EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Mr. Klemola, the history of KILROY begins at the end of the 1940s in Finland when student organizations started establishing travel agencies in order to enable youth and students to widen their view of the world by traveling. Does this approach still hold true today?
Juuso Klemola: Definitely yes. The idea behind those travel agencies was the belief that by traveling the world, young people would learn about different cultures and develop tolerance. After World War II, it was the young generation that was to make the world a better place again. Also today, we look for so much more than just providing a typical package holiday. We offer the opportunity to combine adventure, education, learning, working overseas and getting to know different cultures. It’s a unique experience with an impact that remains for life.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: That KILROY reaches this goal again and again is probably the reason why your company is the market leader within the youth and student traveling sector in Finland. Could you outline your products and services more in detail?
Juuso Klemola: Our core business is to serve individual travellers - to provide tailored and meaningful travel experiences for a target group mainly between 18 and 35 years old, consisting not only of youth and students but also adventurous older people who are looking for something different. This embraces all kinds of customized individual itineraries, like volunteer excursions, adventure tours, working holidays and fitness, surf and activity camps across the world, as well as around the world airfares and so on. We are a one-stop shop for all their travel needs, online and offline. Apart from that, we have three further business units: First, Groups and the Key Accounts department, focused on educational study tours for student groups, sporting events, company functions and general group or B2B bookings. A second, further business unit is Education, focusing on services to help customers study overseas.
We have a broad partnership university network where we can help you to apply for a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or for exchange studies. And finally, we develop and hold a licence for ISIC, the International Student Identity Card, enabling students to make use of discounts for hotels and flights, to name a few examples. Within the student services sector, we are also a part-owner of an innovative Finnish start-up called Frank Students, the leading mobile application providing thousands of benefits to Finnish students across the market. Student life is getting more and more digital, and we are thrilled to be leading it forward.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: Where do you see your company’s particular strengths?
Juuso Klemola: We’re a well-known and highly regarded player with a broad portfolio. For Finnish customers, KILROY is the travel brand of choice. We are known for combining superior customer service and competitive prices with a human touch. Our customers don’t have to choose between these things, and this is what makes us unique.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What will be the new developments and challenges for KILROY within the next few years?
Juuso Klemola: This year is going to be truly exciting for our company. We plan to grow and develop our teams, and focus on developing digitalization, systems infrastructure and market segmentation. We will be releasing a brand new visual identity and a totally fresh brand look, with a lot of new platforms to follow. Part of this plan will also be the launch of a brand-new travel website sure to inspire anyone and everyone to see the world. Within the next few weeks, we’ll also kick-start a campus tour across universities in Finland, spreading the information about the opportunities to see the world. We will also continue to work closely with our international partners to make sure the opportunities we provide are the best ones out there.
EUROPEAN BUSINESS: What drives you personally?
Juuso Klemola: I am personally driven by a desire to grow, innovate and revolutionize the travel industry, while continuously creating the best opportunities for people to travel with a meaningful purpose, whether studying abroad, learning about cultures, experiencing the world unknown or fulfilling their dreams. I have worked across all continents and seen over 50 countries, which has given me a deep respect and understanding of different cultures, perspectives and ways of living. Travelling is enriching and one of the best forms of education, and I’m passionate about helping others experience and discover this.