Liberty Scandinavia

‍Peer Kjaer, Managing Director

Hello Peer, can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get involved in the travel industry and with Liberty in particular?

After graduating from university with a degree in Japanese in 1989, I was headhunted by the Tumlare Corporation, at that time the largest tour operator in Japan, to head up their Japan section in Copenhagen. Over the past 25 years, I have worked for companies such as Kuoni, Carlson Wagonlit and Robinson Scandinavia, being involved in management, product development, supplier negotiations, sales and marketing and many other areas. However, I always wanted to be independent and work on a more global scale. It was purely by chance that I “stumbled” across Liberty 2 years ago. Realizing that it was a very large organization, I contacted Liberty to ask why they had no presence in Scandinavia. Their reply was a simple one: “we have wanted to venture into the Scandinavian market for a number of years, but so far have not found the right person to open a Scandinavian office.” We very quickly started negotiations, the upshot of which was e myself and a partner signing a contract with Liberty to establish Liberty Scandinavia, which officially opened its doors on 1st May 2012. Liberty is different to most other DMCs as all its offices have a co-ownership format – 49% by local partners, such as myself, and 51% by Prague-based parent company Liberty International Tourism Group. This means that all offices are co-owned by local entrepreneurs.

Liberty is a massive global tourism group with 20 years of experience; how did it begin and develop, and, in respect of the Scandinavian market, what approach will you be taking to? Are the challenges you face different to those encountered by your colleagues in the rest of the world?Liberty was established almost 22 years ago by a visionary Austrian, Mario Enzesberger, who saw new opportunities afforded by the fall of the Iron Curtain. He opened the first Liberty office in Prague and gradually began to realize the potential of bringing smaller DMCs together in a network to exploit the synergies of their individual competencies.

Over the years, this network has transformed into a fully-fledged company with headquarters in Prague and offices in more than 50 countries throughout the world, all of which are co-owned by local entrepreneurs. A significant part of the company’s focus has been on sales, and Liberty now has 22 local sales offices that operate independently of the DMCs.Today, the Liberty Group also owns hotels in several countries, as well as a flourishing chain of lodges in East Africa.The latest addition to the Liberty firmament is located in Japan and co-owned by Liberty Scandinavia. The main office is being kept relatively small, and the founder Mario Enzesberger still owns 51% of the entire company.

Venture Norway product manual and website will be made available to Liberty; how will this help you in your daily and weekly tasks?

Product and destination knowledge is becoming ever more important in our industry. Practically all travellers now use the Internet to search for information. But the information out there is not always true or accurate. Personalized, face-to-face advice remains a vital part of the booking process for most travellers who opt to use their local travel agent, as they feel that they will get all the facts. Consequently, having an up-to-date product manual with maps of the region continues to be an essential tool for travel project managers.

Can you tell us a little bit about the average tourist travelling to Scandinavia? Do they fit the typical profile of a tourist and does that profile vary from nation to nation? For example, is the typical American travelling to northern Europe different from their Chinese or Russian counterparts?

Every tourist is unique, therefore you cannot adopt a “one size fits all” approach when dealing with them, be they Chinese or Russian – they cannot be regarded as merely being tourists, they are more than that.First and foremost, a tourist is a customer who has bought a product. We have to focus must be on the customer’s individual needs, and so cultural understanding is of paramount importance. Each nationality must be handled individually, applying an understanding of their specific needs and requirements.

What is clear is that we are now seeing a trend in which people are moving away from off-the-shelf products towards more customized packages. This is true for both groups and individual travellers.Travelling to Scandinavia is still for the few! For your typical tourist, Scandinavia is only 4th, 5th or 6th on the list of destinations to visit. In their minds, you have to see London, Berlin, Rome and Barcelona before even thinking about venturing to Scandinavia.

Vagabond Tours

‍Hanne Andersen, Founder, Owner and CEO

How did you end up in the travel business?

As a younger person I worked as a freelance mountain guide during the summers. I have always been passionate about outdoor activity, hiking and walking. I found that there were a number of potential products and trips which had not been developed and made available on the Danish market. So I began developing trips that I myself would feel like going on. Fortunately, it turned out that other people felt the same way about them. I enjoy offering holidays with lots of good exercise and exploration of places you would not have found otherwise, including local culture and kitchen.

How many tourists/business travellers do you send to Scandinavia each year, and what would you say is the average profile of the people who wish to visit Norway?

We send around 450 Danes to Scandinavia annually. I Denmark we organize the South Funen Archipelago Walk, in Sweden we offer canoeing and timber rafting, and in Norway you can hike in magnificent natural surroundings. There is a wide age range among our Scandinavia-bound clients, including families with children and somewhat older people.

My own fondness for Norway, which I share with lots of Danes, goes back to the year after I finished High School when I worked a year in the country. It opened my eyes to the friendliness of Norwegians and the great nature of Norway. I spent most weekends walking, riding or skiing in the mountains. I have been back many times. I find it hard to single out favorite places but let me mention the coast of Helgeland including the island of Vega, Lofoten and the Finnmark.

How do you use the Venture Norway manual and what do you think of it?

The manual has been a valuable tool for me ever since I received my first copy. I use it to find inspiration, as well as useful information and contacts.


‍Bo Andersen, Director.

Bo Andersen, Director, Scan-SuisseWhat type of travel agent is Scan-Suisse? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you ended up in the travel business?

Scan-Suisse is a Brazilian tour operator/wholesaler specialized in operation to the Nordic countries. The difference between Scan-Suisse and our competitors is that we are not dealing with one single incoming tour operator but with tour operators selling different products at various levels, so that we are able to offer any kind of service to the even most demanding agent/client. Many of our competitors often buy services from us that they cannot get from their supplier, as they are sure that they will get what they need – or at least an indication as to how to go about it – through Scan-Suisse.

I was born in Denmark in 1947. After a long period with SAS in Copenhagen, I decided to exchange Scandinavia for the vibrant, subtropical way of life in Brazil and accepted an offer from SAS to become part of their family in Sâo Paulo. With a good knowledge of Portuguese and a solid Scandinavian background, I relished the chance to take on our European competitors, filling up our weekly aircraft to Europe by visiting the travel and cargo agents in southern Brazil. After twelve years, I decided to start my own business, and together with a Swiss friend launched our company in 1985. We soon found tour operations the most interesting, and decided to set up packages for Scandinavia and South America to sell on the Brazilian market as well as packages for incoming tourists to South America.

Approx. how many tourists does Scan-Suisse send to Scandinavia each year?

Today we send approximately 1000 passengers to Scandinavia and we look after some 300 Scandinavians coming to South America per year.

What do you think of the Venture Norway publication and how do you use it?

Many Brazilians go to their agents for information about what, when, where and how to do things in Scandinavia. In many cases the agents give us a call or pass the reservation on to us, and mostly we can handle it without getting in contact with our Scandinavian suppliers. If the agents had a copy of Venture Norway, they would be able to reply to their clients quickly and easily. Venture Norway is a sort of “Bible” for us – we use it almost daily. It is easy to sell a guaranteed departure in a group but when you have to sell an individual tour with a rented car and need to give comprehensive, detailed information to the agents or passengers, the Venture Norway guide is a must.

What more, in your opinion, should we do to make the book more helpful for you?

We would like more information about internal transportation in Scandinavia with routings and departure times – cruises and ferries, for example

The Polar People

‍Sarah Mayer

First of all, how did you get involved in the travel business, and how did you end up working at The Polar People?

The Polar People is a UK operator and agent, specialising in handcrafted Arctic & Antarctic holidays. We are a family business, founded on our own love of high latitudes. Over the last 20 years, we have built up a wonderful network of expert friends in the far north (and some in the far south too), operating very specialist and adventurous holidays for tiny groups. We sell these unique trips, knowing that our clients will be in safe hands – and we also guide some of the holidays ourselves. I first fell in love with northern places when I was 17 and took part in a youth expedition to Greenland. I had to go back! So after my degree, I worked for a while organising and leading expeditions for young people. Before long, the parents of my young explorers asked if it was possible for them to visit these beautiful places – with a little bit of comfort. I called up some friends in the north and The Polar People was born!

Can you tell us about your personal favorites, since you do the guiding yourself?

On the mainland, Troms is my favourite corner of Norway. It has everything I could wish for: In the winter, stunning mountains and great snow for ski tours – right down to the sea. Of course it is an ideal latitude for seeing the Northern Lights too. In the summer, the coast and islands of Troms are a beautiful with lots of secret places to explore, either hiking or sailing – great for wildlife as well. Svalbard is another very special place. Exploring by sailing boat, or small expedition ship; anchoring in secluded fjords and hiking ashore to witness the immensity of ice, rock and sea. Although so far north, Svalbard is populated by fascinating and uniquely adapted plants, animals, birds (and people!) – this is where we meet the high Arctic face to face – It takes a lot to beat a trip like that!

What type of tourism are you focusing on?

The Polar People specialises in holidays that are really off the beaten track and away from the crowds. That is why northern Scandinavia is perfect for us, there are plenty of little nooks where we can still experience genuine wilderness with nobody else around.

What is the typical profile of tourists that you handle?

In outline, The Polar People’s guests enjoy being outdoors. They come to Norway to enjoy the wild places: ski-touring, snow-shoeing, sailing and walking. They are interested in birdlife and animals, almost all of them carry a pair of binoculars and many of them are artists. Most of our travellers are adults between the ages of 30 and 80. They enjoy solitude and also the convivial company of a very small group. They like the idea of being truly remote – without a long journey time!

What do you think of the Venture Norway manual, how do you use it and what can we do to make it better?

I use the Venture Norway catalogue as inspiration for new tours and to help me plan ‘tailor-made’ holidays when clients want to visit specific areas that I am less familiar with. I find it useful in giving a ‘snapshot’ of each of the providers, attractions and museums, which gives me an idea of whether they’ll fit with The Polar People holidays. Several times, I have found useful providers in the Venture Norway catalogue which I did not discover on my first internet search. My suggestions for improvements would be clearer maps of each county region, with the providers marked on it. I would also find it useful to include more of the really small family-run accommodation providers.

Last, but not least, would you like to tell us a little bit about the Polar People`s plans for the future; new destinations, new markets, new package tours?

Very slowly we are growing. In the next few years we are hoping to attract more families with children, by offering more self-catering holidays in beautiful ‘Little Red Houses’, (including one we have just bought ourselves in Troms!), linked with local providers for activities. We are expanding the number of tours that we guide ourselves, especially in North Norway and Spitsbergen – and are also making plans for new adventures such as summer cycling holidays.

HF Holidays


First of all, how did you get involved in the travel business, and how did you end up working at HF Holidays?

I was working in London in the media and getting increasingly fed up with the long hours and hectic lifestyle. I’d always been an avid traveler and hiker and decided to move to the Lake District to live in the mountains. I was lucky enough to get a job with HF Holidays working with our leader panel (we have 850 volunteer leaders) which was a complete – and welcome – change of direction for me. Shortly afterwards, because of my own personal travel experience and mountain leader training, I moved into the Abroad department and I now manage our European Guided Walking holidays.

How many tourists do HF Holidays send to Scandinavia each year?

We currently send about 250 walking guests each year to our base at the wonderful Stalheim Hotel. This holiday has sold out each year since we launched it five years ago. We are currently developing a guided walking programme in the Lofoten islands for 2012, with excellent assistance from Innovation Norway, and hoping to move into Sweden in the near future.

Do you feel that the business travel market are increasing, or do you focus more on general tourism?

We’re in the leisure and activity market exclusively. Our main focus is our Guided Walking product and we take about 45,000 guests walking with us each year and another 10,000 with our cycling and leisure holidays like photography and cooking.

How would you describe the average tourist interested in Norway – what is the “profile”?

For our guests, it’s a once in a lifetime destination. They want to see and experience the attractions that Norway is justly famous for – cruising down fjords, riding the Flåmsbana and visiting Bergen. And of course, go walking!

What do you think of the Venture Norway manual, how do you use it and what can we do to make it better?

The Venture Norway manual is an excellent resource as a starting point for developing new resorts and understanding what each area offers. The most important aspects for me to understand are hotel availability, location and standard balanced with what the walking will be like in each area. One thing I would appreciate, would be a map of each area in the relevant section so that I can cross reference key resources against their location. I also find the Norwegian Tourist Information offices an invaluable resource and it would be great to have a contact name for each area’s office.

Last, but not least, would you like to tell us a little bit about HF Holidays `s plans for the future; new destinations, new markets, new package tours?

We’re continuing to expand our range of holidays both in the UK and overseas, having just bought a new hotel in mid-Wales and adding around 20 new overseas destinations in 2012. Walking is always likely to be the mainstay of our business, but we also developing our cycling and activity holidays which have both been very successful. We’ve recently been voted the UK’s Best Large Tour Operator in the Guardian/Observer Travel awards, which we are very proud of, and we’re already looking forward to our centenary in 2013 when we’ll be celebrating 100 years of providing outdoor holidays.

Vorscot Tours

How did you end up in the travel business?

I worked for the UK government in both the National and Municipal Museum services for over 20 years, then with the Scottish Sports Council and as their contact with the then- Scottish Tourist Board and its regional outlets, so I have a good background in differing aspects of the leisure industry over 40 years. I formed my own company, Vorscot Tours, in 2001, mostly based on the kind of experience of tours that my wife and I enjoyed while traveling around the world and taking locally-led escorted guided tours, and I thought: “I know my destination countries well and enjoy traveling and meeting people, so why not start something similar myself?”

How many tourists/business travellers do you send to Scandinavia each year, and what would you say is the average profile of the people who wish to visit Norway?

It has varied over the years. I provide high-quality, privately-escorted, personally-prepared bespoke itineraries for individuals, families and groups, taking them throughout Norway and my other destination countries. I`m into quality, not quantity. My clients are all people with money who are looking for a certain style of tour, giving them excellent accommodation, great sightseeing and local information, plus myths and legends and local folklore. I also provide special focus tours to sacred sights, stave churches and others. Somewhere between 20-60 tourists in any one year, sometimes more when groups are involved.

How do you use the Venture Norway manual and what do you think of it?

I find it an essential and very useful tool to supplement and update my own knowledge, plus that of my good local contacts throughout Norway.


‍Anna Kazmierczak, Executive Manager

Anna Kazmierczak, Executive Manager/NovasolHow did you end up in the travel business?

As a student I was keen on travelling and decided that the cheapest way would be to work as travel guide. I was guiding mainly in Scandinavia. After 4 years I was exhausted from being constantly on the road. At that time NOVASOL Holiday homes was looking for new staff for the Polish sales office – someone with experience and who already knew Scandinavia. And so I end up at NOVASOL as a sales coordinator in Poland. After first years of organizing sales on the Polish market I was offered by NOVASOL to take over all market activities in Poland. Here I’m today – being Poland Country Manager for NOVASOL and having responsibility and fun at developing NOVASOL in Poland. That’s still great adventure and opportunity.

How many tourists/business travellers do you send to Scandinavia each year, and what would you say is the average profile of the people who wish to visit Norway?

Year by year we send more tourists to Norway to our holiday homes. 2011 we had as guests in our cottages in Norway ca. 1500 customers from Poland. People travelling with us to Norway are mainly families and friends, interested in active holiday (i.e. cycling, walking etc.), in doing something unusual (i.e. diving) . Many of them are keen on fishing and prefer to stay in our selected Fisherman Houses (special offer for fishing holidays). But always the main reason for many tourists of NOVASOL is: to see the magician fjords in reality.

How do you use the Venture Norway manual and what do you think of it?

We use Venture Norway to support our sales whenever we are missing the practical knowledge about Norway.


How did you end up in the travel business?

After traveling 30 years for business and pleasure thru Norway I decided to share all these experiences by organizing holidays to this beautiful country. In that way a lot of people can have benefit of my experiences.

How many tourists/business travellers do you send to Scandinavia each year, and what would you say is the average profile of the people who wish to visit Norway?

About 1500 persons each year and the profile is mostly couples of whom the children aren’t living with them.

How do you use the Venture Norway manual and what do you think of it?

It is a great adjustment to keep up being informed about Norway.

Pro Bus Jutland, Germany

‍Mario Malliaros, Director

How did you end up in the travel business?

It had been always my wish to work in tourism, so after school I learned the profession to become a travel agent in an agency. After that, I moved to a big tour operator, where I could depress my knowledge in many different sectors of the tourism business. A few years later I moved to the sector of incoming tourism and took over the direction of a German spa to be responsible for a whole destination. On a tourism fair in 2003 I got in touch with some Danish tourist players and after some good talks, a glass of wine and a lot of fun an idea was settled and Pro Bus Jylland was born. Since that time our target is to develop and sell bus and group tourism primary for the area of Vestjylland but also for the rest of the whole country and we are proud to say that Pro Bus Jylland today has become the leading company in bus and group tourism for Jylland in the meanwhile. Our goal is to be no. 1 for whole Denmark in future. Let’s see how far we will get, we still love what we do and try the best for all of us.

How many tourists/business travelers do you send to Scandinavia each year, and what will you say is the average profile of the people who wishes to visit Denmark?

The average profile of a Danish tourist is classical a family holiday in a summerhouse. We try to bring up a relatively new type of tourist to make the cake bigger. Our target is the bus tourist which you can say has an age of around 60 years and older. So we talk about the best ager generation we are trying to convince to come up to the north. Important for this group target is to come closer with the local people and its culture, have a lot of different experiences, see a lot of the country, offer them to be active as well if they wish, a good standard in accommodation and off course good food. All this you can find in Denmark easily so the destination is the perfect target for the clients we are going after.

How do you plan to use the Venture Denmark manual and what do you think of it?

To have a Danish version of the manual would be a big help for us. It will give us some new inspiration and will show us some more possibilities what to do and what to offer new to our customers. So we look very much forward to this manual!