It’s fair to say that Tanja Sabel, who has managed Mariehamn Airport since spring 2011, is a multitalent in the travel industry. Before her position at the airport, she worked not only in service and administrative roles in the restaurant and hotel business but also in a travel agency and on a cruise ship.
“I’m bilingual and good at languages in general. I’m curious by nature and interested in different cultures. On the other hand, business-oriented thinking comes naturally for me. The travel industry allows me to combine these strengths,” Sabel says.
Keeping up with an international industry
Working at Finavia has exceeded Sabel’s expectations.
“As the airport manager, I’m in touch with all processes that have something to do with the airport, so I’m learning new things all the time. I really enjoy working with people from different fields of expertise, such as environmental professionals and technical specialists, because it gives me new perspectives,” she says.
Sabel is excited about leadership and service design. After getting a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, she has completed specialised vocational training in leadership and management as well as a master’s degree in leadership and service design alongside her daily work. Sabel intends to make use of her knowledge of service design in developing customer satisfaction at Mariehamn Airport.
“Finavia is investing in service design and therefore setting the pace for the whole industry. Personally, I’m looking forward to growing with Mariehamn Airport,” Sabel says. According to her, the internationality of the industry is what spurs the company to lead the way.
“We need to exceed passengers’ expectations to keep up the interest of travellers who have been around the world,” she states.
An avid developer of tourism in Åland
The development of tourism in Åland is close to Sabel’s heart. A native of the Turku area in Southwestern Finland, Sabel has lived in Åland for around 15 years. She has liked it in the archipelago and has no intention of moving out. In Sabel’s view, tourism could support Åland’s economic life and revitalise the region.
“Today, aviation in Åland is mostly business travel. I’d like to see a boost in tourism, and it would be great if tourists found their way to Åland around the year – or, in other words, outside the summer season as well. Moreover, I wish Asian tourists found Åland, and that the triangle flights between Turku, Helsinki and Mariehamn flew more frequently.
Soon, Mariehamn Airport will face a runway renovation project. Sabel says the runway will be reworked just in time for the Tall Ships’ Race, a major international sailing event which will be held in Mariehamn in 2021. Nonetheless, she is planning to focus on creating a great passenger experience at Mariehamn Airport.
“The customer should always come first. No matter what service you’re offering, you must consider all stakeholders’ perspectives, but the customer’s point of view should be priority.”