In a world where all information is just one click away, the only thing becoming scarce is our attention to our surroundings. The only way to grab the attention is by making the experience matter. Things that matter are personal. Stories are personal. With storification a destination or service can be made more attractive and memorable to visitors. If done well, storification can even help grow the vitality of the area.
Author: Kaisu Isomäki
A business framework based on a story
Story based service design shortly storification is a form of service design in which stories are used to improve customer experience, create value and make the service more memorable. Storification binds the company functions and service phases together by creating a story-based framework where company functions such as strategy, productization, service design, marketing and branding are all part of the same story. (Kalliomäki 2014.)
In recent years, travel agencies have started to understand the significance of storytelling as a mean to differentiate from other service providers (Ahola 2020). Well-written story does not guarantee success on its own but with distinguishable manuscript comes competitive advantage and a way out of the price competition. Customers are willing to pay the asked price if the service responds to their needs. (Kalliomäki 2014.)
Stories are personal and multisensory
“Our brain treats a well-told story just like it treats our own personal experience.” (Cowell 2019.) A good story works as the backbone for business. A story forms the spirit of the place. When visitors are able to feel that spirit, they experience that they are a part of the place. (Kalliomäki & Räsänen 2021)
The purpose of the storification is to offer a personalized experience and make service stand out from others. From marketing point of view one well-thought core story works best. To attract multiple target groups, same story should be actualized in different ways. A successful story is bravely different, based on facts and told like fiction. (Ahola 2020.)
From customer’s point of view, the story is tightly linked with the authenticity of the service. A convincing story guides the customer through the service phases in specific order and gives value to the customer in all stages and enables the customer to experience the service also on intellectual and emotional level. At best during the service encounters the story can be seen, heard, tasted, smelled and felt. (Kalliomäki 2021; Tarssanen & Kylänen 2009, 13.)
The story can be brought alive in many ways such as with physical elements that the place has or the items visitors are expected to wear during the visit, audio in a form of music and dialog, lighting and tasting experiences. The key thing in storification of nature travel is to alter the environment so that the story is supported and delivered in a way that makes visitors curious. (Kalliomäki & Räsänen 2021.) Many forests look the same, but not all of them are a thousand-year-old secret and a home to mystical creatures only seen by few.
Picture 1. Moss creature ”Örmy Körmyläinen” is a work of Katriina Vuorikivi (Image: Katriina Vuorikivi)
Exceeding expectations – CASE: Juupajoki
The Juupajoki Gorge nature reserve is the pride of the local people. Locals use the nature reserve for recreation and take their guests to visit it too. Juupajoen rotkohanke 2021 (“The Juupajoki Gorge Project”) has continued the work started a year before in fixing up the structures of the nature trails and in storification of the trails. At present, the gorge area is home to almost 50 moss creatures and their stories made by local volunteers and Katriina Vuorikivi, who coordinates the project. “In total over 100 people have participated in the work”, says Vuorikivi.
Vuorikivi explains that, volunteers have made joint trips to collect moss, and everyone has been able to produce their work at home in their own time. The volunteers have also come up with stories for their own creatures. The stories are gathered on the website of the Juupajoki municipality, and they can be accessed reading QR-codes along the trail. Many creatures blend so well in the nature that without being attentive, visitors might miss them.
The object of the storification of the nature reserve was to market the area in a distinctive way and to increase the number of tourists that would use the services of local companies during their visit. The storification of the trails also encourages local people to exercise more and make memories while spending time in nature. Volunteering increases the sense of community and resident satisfaction. (Vuorikivi 2021.)
According to Vuorikivi, the storification of the trail has had a big positive impact on the usage of the area. “Visitor count has exceeded all expectations. The hiking season has become longer and there are still lots of visitors daily.” Local company, Walleniuksen Wapriikki, an old shoe factory, that has services such as tea and coffee house, delicacy store, a gallery and premises for events, has also told that the sales during the fall season have been as good as during the summer.
Picture 2. Kostia Juupa, the eldest resident of the gorge, checking the accessible viewing point is a work of Katriina Vuorikivi. (Image: Katriina Vuorikivi)
Serious business of storytelling
Storification isn’t just for fun. It is a considerable mean to market nature destinations. Stories, that arise from the local cultural history or are otherwise interesting and become one with the environment, make travel experience feel more personal and unique.
As result well-made and marketed nature destination with a story can improve the vitality of the area by attracting both visitors and new residents. In case the experience is free of charge, the revenue is indirect. For service providers of the area, these free of charge experiences are a way to offer their services for the passerby. Satisfied visitors pay also by raising awareness when recommending the place and its services to others.
About the project
Storification used in design of nature travel has been studied as a part of project Kurenniemi – cultural value of Russia and Finland through M. Agricola trail (1.2.2021-31.12.2022) which aims to establish a nature reserve status on the Cape Kyrönniemi area near the Finnish-Russian border in Leningrad Region. In the project LAB provides expertise in developing sustainable tourism routes and services. The project is funded by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland.
Ahola, S. 2020. Persoonallinen tarina vai samistelijoiden lauma? [Cited 28.7.2021]. Available at: https://www.nordicmarketing.de/blogi/persoonallinen-tarina-vai-samistelijoiden-lauma
Cowell, B. 2019. Storification and Storytelling: What it is, and why you should care? [Cited 28.7.2021]. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/storification-storytelling-what-why-you-should-care-brett-cowell
Kalliomäki, A. 2021. Tarinallistaminen. [Cited 28.7.2021]. Available at: https://tarinakone.fi/tarinallistaminen/
Kalliomäki, A. 2014. Tarinallistaminen – Palvelukokemuksen punainen lanka. E-book. [Cited 8 Sep 2021]. Available: https://www.ellibslibrary.com/book/978-952-14-2046-7
Kalliomäki. A. & Räsänen, P. 2021. Luontoreittien kehittämiswebinaarit – Tarinallistaminen. [Cited 25.10.2021]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12m6Et1gnIw&t=610s
Tarssanen, S. & Kylänen, M. 2009. Elämystuottajan käsikirja. [Cited 28 9 Sep 2021]. Available: http://www.kulmat.fi/images/tiedostot/Artikkelit/elmystuottaja%20ksikirja.pdf
Vuorikivi, K. 2021. Project worker. The municipality of Juupajoki. 27.10.2021.
Kaisu Isomäki, ICT engineer and BBA, works as a project planner in the Business Unit of LAB University of Applied Sciences. In her work, Kaisu strives to solve problems with her technical expertise user-centered approach in mind.
Illustration: Katriina Vuorikivi
Reference to this article
Isomäki, K. 2021. Storification enhances experience and vitality in nature travel. LAB Pro. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: https://www.labopen.fi/lab-pro/storification-enhances-experience-and-vitality-in-nature-travel/