Why every gravel bike ride in Finland is a tiny holiday! TSHS-0076

Why Every Gravel  Bike Ride in Finland is a Tiny Holiday!

In this episode, Sam-Erik Ruttmann interviews Sari Puumala, the founder of PK & Company, about the growing trend of travel by biking, specifically gravel biking.

Sari shares her passion for outdoor activities and how she got into endurance sports like triathlon. We discuss the popularity of gravel road biking and the reasons behind it, including the desire for new experiences, quiet roads, and the social aspect of cycling.

We also explore the difference between bikepacking and traditional cycling tours, as well as the opportunities for small hotels and inns to cater to bike packers. Sari emphasizes the extensive infrastructure and endless possibilities for cycling in Finland, and the need for accommodations to be bike-friendly. We continue by discussing the digital tools available for planning routes and exploring unknown trails.

Sari Puumala discusses the fascination of biking and how she plans her routes, especially when exploring unknown trails or destinations. She shares her passion for planning routes and the tools she uses. Sari also talks about the extensive network of gravel cycling routes in Finland and the challenges of creating interesting routes due to the many roads that end in someone’s house.

She shares memorable experiences from her bikepacking adventures and highlights the social aspect of biking. Sari also discusses the efforts made by the city of Lahti to attract international bikers to Finland, including hosting events like the FNLD Gravel https://www.fnldgrvl.com/ and Nordic Gravel Series https://nordicgravel.com/pages/2024-events. She emphasizes the importance of digital tools and platforms for finding routes and planning bikepacking tours.

Sari Puumala can be reached on Instagram @sora.katriin and @sarikatriin,

I hope you enjoy my content, so subscribe to this channel for interesting discussions about travel and tourism.

Now you can buy me a coffee. 😊https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SamErik

Exploring Africa’s Diverse Charms: Insights on Travel, Sustainability, and Future Trends! TSHS-0075

Exploring Africa’s Diverse Charms: Insights on Travel, Sustainability, and Future Trends!

In a comprehensive dialogue,  Pirkka Tapiola, Ambassador of Finland to Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, Seychelles, and Uganda,  delves into the interplay between Africa and Europe, framing it as a pivotal element in the travel experiences of European tourists. Throughout the discussion, he underscores Africa’s multifaceted nature, debunking the notion of it being a homogeneous entity. Notably, he explores the vibrant tapestry of African culture, emphasizing its richness and diversity. From the culinary delights of East Africa to the burgeoning fashion and arts scene in Nairobi, Ambassador Tapiola paints a vivid picture of the continent’s allure.

Central to his discourse is the imperative of sustainability in tourism, advocating for the preservation of Africa’s awe-inspiring natural landscapes and invaluable cultural heritage. Moreover, he provides invaluable insights into ensuring the safety of travelers amidst their explorations. Looking ahead, Ambassador Tapiola offers astute observations on the evolving landscape of the hospitality industry in Africa, identifying key future trends that are poised to shape the traveler experience in the region.

The Intangible Luxury: Evolving Landscapes of the Hotel Industry. TSHS- 0074


In this episode, Sam Erik Ruttmann interviews Piers Schmidt, the founder of luxury branding consultancy firm Luxury Branding. They discuss the challenges faced by luxury hotel brands in gaining global recognition and value compared to luxury goods brands. They explore the pricing premium discrepancy between luxury hotels and luxury goods, as well as the visibility and marketing challenges faced by hotel brands. They also discuss the distinction between ultra luxury and luxury hotel brands and the limitations on the growth of ultra luxury brands. Finally, they delve into the mindset of revenue generation and the rise of experiential luxury in the hospitality industry. The conversation covers topics such as loyalty programs and ultra luxury brands, building true affinity with guests, the Red Sea Global development in Saudi Arabia, and the future of niche brands.


  • Luxury hotel brands face challenges in gaining global recognition and value compared to luxury goods brands.
  • There is a pricing premium discrepancy between luxury hotels and luxury goods, with hotels commanding a lower premium.
  • Visibility and marketing are key challenges for luxury hotel brands, with a need for more innovative and impactful strategies.
  • Ultra luxury hotel brands are limited in their growth due to the high costs of development and the scarcity of suitable real estate.
  • Revenue generation in the hospitality industry should focus on creating unique and exceptional experiences for guests.
  • The rise of experiential luxury has led to increased demand for one-of-a-kind, immersive experiences in the hospitality sector. Loyalty programs are often used as addiction programs rather than creating true loyalty.
  • Ultra luxury brands should focus on building true affinity with guests rather than relying on loyalty programs.
  • The Red Sea Global development in Saudi Arabia is a unique and sustainable project that aims to attract talent and change the tourism map.
  • Niche brands that focus on a specific theme or passion have the potential to succeed by connecting with their target audience.


00:00 Introduction to Luxury Branding and Hospitality

02:04 The Lack of Recognition for Luxury Hotel Brands

04:31 Pricing Premium Discrepancy

07:47 Visibility and Marketing Challenges

14:47 Differentiating Ultra Luxury and Luxury Hotel Brands

24:11 Revenue Generation and Differentiation

27:06 The Rise of Experiential Luxury

31:55 Loyalty Programs and Ultra Luxury Brands

36:04 Building True Affinity with Guests

40:27 Red Sea Global Development in Saudi Arabia

51:24 The Future of Niche Brands

Selection of brands mentioned in the Podcast

Zannier https://www.zannierhotels.com

Habitas https://www.ourhabitas.com

My Guest

Piers Schmidt, Founder

Luxury Branding

Email contact: piers.s@luxury-branding.com

Luxury Branding: https://www.luxury-branding.com/

The Portrayal of Greenland: A visual Analysis of its Digital Storytelling. TSHS-0073


This is Ep.02 of my discussion with Dr. Francesc Fuste-Forne, University of Girona, Catalonia.

The Ep. 01 ¨How Instagram & TikTok are rewriting the rules of Gastronomy and Travel Marketing. TSHS-0072 is available for your listening pleasure.

The conversation explores Greenland’s digital storytelling emphasizes its environmental factors and the unique culture within nature.

Dr. Francesc Fuste-Forne recommended that Hospitality professionals should strive to balance high-tech and high-touch experiences and create narratives that evoke identity and engage with customers. The conversation concludes with recommendations for enhancing storytelling techniques and contact information for further engagement.



Unleashing AI’s Potential: Overcoming Common Pitfalls and Strategies for Success. TSHS-0071

Unleashing AI’s Potential: Overcoming Common Pitfalls and Strategies for Success.


In this episode, Jayanth N Kolla, an AI expert, discusses the key considerations for implementing AI in businesses.

He emphasizes the importance of understanding the evolution of AI and the different generations of AI technology. Jayanth advises companies to align their AI strategy with their core values and to equip their teams with the necessary knowledge and skills. He also highlights the significance of considering the impact of AI on customer experience and the ethical and regulatory considerations in AI implementation. Additionally, Jayanth discusses the risks and challenges associated with AI implementation and provides insights on measuring ROI and creating implementation plans.


Understand the evolution of AI and the different generations of AI technology.

Align your AI strategy with your company’s core values.

Equip your teams with the necessary knowledge and skills for AI implementation.

Consider the impact of AI on customer experience and address ethical and regulatory considerations.

Mitigate risks and challenges associated with AI implementation.

Measure ROI and create implementation plans for AI projects.


00:00 Introduction and Setting the Stage

02:11 The Evolution of AI and Its Impact on Industries

05:05 Understanding the Intersection of AI 1.0 and AI 2.0

07:45 Different Approaches to AI Implementation

09:08 The Role of Company Values in AI Implementation

10:08 Equipping Teams for AI Success

13:06 The Impact of AI on Customer Experience

16:05 The Role of the CEO’s Office in AI Strategy and Planning

17:30 Ethical and Regulatory Considerations in AI Implementation

20:04 Mitigating Risks in AI Implementation

27:33 Protecting Against Cyber Attacks

30:57 Measuring ROI and Implementation Plans

34:16 Advice for Implementing AI

43:08 Reflections on AI Journey

The Power of Storytelling & Mental Health Innovation – discussion with Daniel Hettwer. TSHS-0070

The Power of Storytelling & Mental Health Innovation – discussion with Daniel Hettwer. TSHS-0070

In this episode, we’re thrilled to bring you a fascinating conversation with Daniel Hettwer, an innovator venturing into the mental health sphere with creative technological solutions.

As our conversation unfolds, Daniel Hettwer delves into the compelling world of immersive experiences designed to save lives through awareness. He critically addresses the current trend of ‘well-washing’ and emphasizes the value of scientifically proven methods over expensive wellness fads. Offering actionable advice, Daniel highlights simple life gestures, such as connecting with a loved one or practicing gratitude, that can profoundly affect our mental well-being.

Further exploring the intersection of story and technology, Daniel illustrates the importance of emotionally engaging narratives, regardless of the medium. He explains how the technology, such as VR-based previsualization teamed with advanced neuroscience tools, can enhance our ability to tell stories that resonate and evoke empathy.

The discussion also covers the delicate balance between leveraging technology and preserving authentic storytelling — an element that can’t be overstated, whether you’re sitting around campfire in the Finnish Wilderness or watching a high-budget film.

▶️ Join us for this episode packed with deep insights and thoughtful discussions on how we can humanize technology to benefit mental health and storytelling. Daniel’s expertise sheds light on the evolving landscape of narrative, technology, and wellness.

Unveiling Authenticity with Aradhana Khowala. TSHS-0069

 Unveiling Authenticity with Aradhana Khowala

Welcome to Episode TSHS-0069 of our podcast series, where we dive into profound conversations with influential personalities shaping our world today. In this episode, we’re honored to have Aradhana Khowala, an inspiring figure in the fields of entrepreneurship, hospitality, and innovation.

We discuss an array of topics, ranging from embracing vulnerability to the implications of artificial intelligence on modern industries. Join us as we delve into the intricate landscape of balancing personal growth, emotional authenticity, and societal expectations. Listen to Aradhana’s refreshing outlook on the necessity of being true to oneself in the ever-evolving world we live in.

Along this enlightening journey, we touch on youth engagement and the power they hold to shape the future. Aradhana shares her optimism surrounding the next generation of leaders and how they continue to hold older generations accountable. As a globe that witnesses rapid changes—whether in technology, politics, or culture—we find solace in the dedication and passion of these young minds.

One of the highlights of this podcast is our exploration of the intriguing intersection of AI, job security, and the hospitality industry. We discuss how 20% of employees may fear job replacement by AI, but this emerging technology also opens doors for new possibilities in skill development, improved job roles, and more meaningful human experiences.

Finally, hear Aradhana talk about the importance of finding purpose in the evolving business landscape. Discover how businesses today are more conscious when it comes to making an impact on a global scale, and why it’s essential to keep evolving alongside the world.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to sit back and journey through the mind and experiences of Aradhana Khowala. This episode will leave you inspired, reflecting on your personal growth and the ways we, as individuals, can play our part in creating an enriched, more connected future.

Tune in now to unlock the secrets of emotional authenticity, AI, and life in the 21st century with Aradhana Khowala. You don’t want to miss this!

Paul Williams: Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Spirit In Dubai. TSHS-0068

Paul Williams: Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Spirit In Dubai

Once in a while, you’ll stumble upon a force of nature – an individual whose entrepreneurial passion and cunning innovation reshape their field, embodying the spirit of self-belief and soaring over adversity. One such person is Paul Williams, the CEO of Spearhead Creativity.

In a recent, highly engaging conversation, Paul shared a narrative marked by entrepreneurship, strategic branding, AI tech usage, and a sprinkle of jazz bars! He champions the notion of self-belief in the face of ‘haters’ and doubts.

Few things parallel Paul’s commitment to his pursuit, except perhaps his passion for open discussions across an eclectic mix of topics – affairs, sports, or just general subjects. Remarkably, he unwinds at jazz bars, perhaps finding the rhythm of his ideas in the cool blue notes of a saxophone.

As spearhead of Spearhead Creativity, a top-tier digital marketing agency, Paul is elevating the hospitality industry with savvy AI solutions. He’s harnessing the power of AI-driven chatbots to provide travelers with personalized experiences within mere seconds!

Despite his professional accomplishments, he remains grounded and approachable, keen to impart his wisdom to eager minds. You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn or drop him an email to kindle vibrant conversations and get business-driving advice.

Paul Williams is a testament to the power of self-belief, proving that truly believing in yourself can spark an entrepreneurial journey marked by success, innovation, and the courage to hit those high notes in business and life!


“Bridging the Gap: How Susanna Sjöberg’s Expertise is Redefining Mental Wellness in the Hospitality Sector” TSHS-0067

“Bridging the Gap: How Susanna Sjöberg’s Expertise is Redefining Mental Wellness in the Hospitality Sector” TSHS-0067

To the listener and reader: What are your top three pain points in dealing with Mental Wellness challenges in your organization? Please write in the comments.

Introduction: In the fast-paced world of hospitality, where customer service is at the forefront, the well-being of employees often takes a back seat. However, in the current era of uncertainty and global challenges, the mental health of hospitality workers is gaining much-needed attention. In this episode of the Social Hotelier podcast, host Sam-Erik Ruttmann delves into the crucial topic of employee well-being with expert advice from Susanna Sjöberg. As a registered mental health professional and the founder of Innerwork CH, Susanna brings a unique perspective that combines her background in business with a passion for workplace mental wellness.

Understanding the Importance of Employee Well-Being:

Sam-Erik sets the stage by emphasizing the significance of employee well-being in the hospitality industry. He highlights the visible impact that employees’ mental states can have on the overall atmosphere of a hotel or service-oriented business. Whether it’s the warm and welcoming vibe of a well-functioning team or the avoidance of eye contact indicating distress, employee well-being plays a pivotal role in shaping the customer experience.

Introducing Susanna Sjöberg:

The podcast introduces Susanna Sjöberg as a seasoned professional in the field of workplace mental wellness. Susanna, based in Geneva, Switzerland, founded Innerwork CH after gaining diverse experiences and insights while working for large organizations and the International Labor Organization. Her expertise spans workplace mental wellness, psychological safety, and health. As Sam-Erik expresses the importance of the episode, Susanna shares her journey, highlighting her passion for workplace well-being that began early in her career.

Defining Mental Health and Dispelling Stigmas:

Susanna clarifies that when discussing mental health, it’s essential to recognize the spectrum it operates on. Rather than focusing solely on mental illness, the conversation extends to mental well-being, analogous to physical health. She acknowledges the challenges of addressing mental health in the hospitality industry, where there is often a reluctance to discuss these issues due to stigma.

 Our mutual friend Carin-Isabel Knoop wrote this timely blog on how to pay attention to the hospitality workers who provide a wonderful experience while we enjoy our holiday.

¨ If we vacation to heal our wounds and wound hospitality workers in return, we do nothing net-positive for the world. So, how do we ensure that we don’t care for ourselves at the expense of others?¨  Here is the link to her blog https://carinisabelknoop.medium.com/of-hotel-towels-elephants-mental-health-and-tourism-a907664d477c

The Global Challenge of Mental Health:

Sam-Erik and Susanna delve into the staggering global impact of mental health issues. Citing statistics from the World Health Organization, Susanna reveals that over 50% of people are experiencing mental health challenges, costing the global economy between one and six trillion US dollars annually. Stress-related work issues alone contribute to over 120,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Examining Workplace Well-Being Programs:

Susanna critiques the current landscape of workplace well-being programs, citing a recent study from the University of Oxford that showed minimal positive impact on employees. She emphasizes the need for companies to move beyond ad hoc well-being initiatives and invest in systematic, structured approaches that build sustainable well-being systems.


Exemplary Companies and Their Well-Being Initiatives:

We explore examples of companies that excel in implementing effective well-being programs. Susanna mentions Pan Pacific in London, highlighting their innovative four-day work weeks and focus on flexibility. Susanna adds TUI to the list, commending their ¨We Care¨ambassador program initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the positive impact of peer support.

Addressing Mental Health in Changing Work Environments:

The conversation shifts towards adapting to changing expectations, particularly those of the younger generation. Susanna notes that younger employees seek meaningful work, flexibility, and a balanced work-life dynamic. She commends organizations like Hilton, which adopts a holistic approach with its “Care for All” program, addressing self-care, team care, and care for loved ones.

The Role of Middle Management:

Discussing the implementation of well-being programs, Susanna emphasizes the crucial role of top leadership and middle management. CEOs must champion these initiatives, while middle managers require training to effectively support their teams. Susanna stresses the importance of a structured approach that involves systematic training for middle managers.

Navigating Employee Expectations and Recruitment:

Sam-Erik and Susanna explore the changing expectations of the younger workforce and how companies can adapt to attract and retain talent. Susanna advises companies to focus on:

  • meaningful work,
  • value alignment,
  • fostering connections among employees.

She underscores the importance of honesty in recruitment to avoid mismatched expectations.


Practical Strategies for Combating Loneliness:

Susanna provides practical strategies for combating loneliness, a common challenge in the hospitality industry due to irregular working hours. She stresses the importance of connection as a biological need, suggesting regular touchpoints, encouraging social interaction, and raising awareness about the issue.


I must extend my appreciation to Susanna for sharing her invaluable insights on mental wellness in the hospitality industry.

Susanna’s expertise shines through as she emphasizes the need for a cultural shift, where companies prioritize structured well-being systems and employees take responsibility for their mental health.

To the listener and reader: What are your top three pain points in dealing with Mental Wellness challenges in your organization? Please write in the comments.