Getting the Sustainable Travel Finland label is a testament to sustainable operations on many levels. The label is only granted to those companies and attractions within the travel industry that operate in a manner that is ecologically, socially, culturally and economically sustainable. Solo Sokos Hotel Paviljonki is the third operator in the sector, and the first hotel and city attraction in Central Finland, which has received the STF label.
"We are very happy for this recognition, which is definitely valued by our guests, as well. Committing to the principles of sustainable travel is very natural for us, as responsibility has been built into our hotel's business idea from the beginning. We want to be the pioneers of responsible travel in Central Finland", says Kirsi Tarkkanen, sales services manager for Sokos Hotels in Jyväskylä, who also participated in the application process of the STF label.
The STF label brings forth an even more systematic model of constant development and the most recent information on sustainable travel.
"It also helps us to profile ourselves as a responsible operator both in domestic and international market", estimates Kirsi.
At Solo Sokos Hotel Paviljonki, responsibility becomes especially clear in environmental matters. The hotel has had the Green Key environmental certificate since 2017 to proof that the operations are ecologically sustainable.
"We have achieved a lot already, but there is still work to be done. We are constantly developing our operations with every work group also in this respect. We pull all the stops", says Lina Markkanen, the hotel's Green Key representative.
Environmental awareness is visible in many ways. One example of this is the furniture in the hotel rooms – they are the handiwork of a local carpenter's shop. Recycling and environmentally-friendly practices are a major part of the staff's induction. The hotel has enhanced its consumption of water and electricity, and the use of printing paper is minimised. Textiles that are no longer used are donated to charity – pillows and blankets are given to a local animal shelter, and old work shirts are forwarded to the World Vision organisation. The hotel has also collaborated with the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. In the hotel's social media communication, environmental themes are regularly highlighted.
"We encourage our guests to visit local natural sites and to use public transport and in summer, the hotel's bicycles. We will also soon join the ResQ Club mobile service to sell leftover lunch from our restaurant. The food would otherwise end up as waste."
Wellbeing in many respects
Apart from environmental awareness, responsibility requires choices and practices that are socially and economically sustainable. The social responsibility of Solo Sokos Hotel Paviljonki becomes evident, for example, from the annual survey of employees' wellbeing, the results of which are then reviewed with the entire staff. Even though the results remain positive from year to year, we want to constantly develop in this important area.
"We promote local wellbeing by also collaborating with local producers and local schools. Our hotel is very popular among pupils and students familiarising themselves with working life and doing their on-the-job training or practical training, so how we represent the travel industry is extremely important."
According to Kirsi and Lina, Central Finland is well equipped to promote the region's attractiveness as a tourist destination while observing the principles of sustainability.
"We hope that the several other travel operators in this region would be encouraged to follow our example and join the Sustainable Travel Finland programme", she encourages.
Read more about the STF programme: Sustainable Travel Finland