Even though it’s not Sunday, I went for a coffee with Hannu, owner, heart and soul of KOTI apartments. I will attach this lovely interview to my previously published “Sunday Cafe” section for you to enjoy in the future and easily access it.
When I first met Hannu was on our business meeting regarding my collaboration with KOTI apartments about 2,5 months ago. Ever since the first meeting up until this moment, Hannu has been not just an easy person to collaborate with but also very warm and welcoming individual which is very dedicated to what he does and every single client who walks into KOTI apartments matters. I was happy to spend some time interviewing him and I hope that this will bring him closer to you and that you will too consider staying at KOTI apartments in the future. 🙂
Your name and age.
Hannu Junkkaala , Libra 🙂
Where do you come from and what is your connection to Helsinki?
I come from Helsinki, I was born here and I’m what’s considered “barefoot” Helsinkian.
Well, almost because you’re supposed to have 5 generations in your family who are from Helsinki, I don’t have that many but almost. That also explains my connection to Helsinki.
What are the advantages of operating a business from Helsinki and what are disadvantages?
Helsinki is clean, safe and has pure, straight forward people living here. Helsinki is modern and always developing more. To me, it’s much easier to operate my business from Helsinki because there is enough space on the hospitality market for what I’m doing. KOTI apartments are quite unique in that sense and it makes a big advantage for me.
Disadvantage might be that Helsinki could still have more bigger/ worldwide known companies their offices here and create more centred point for business traveler who are are also majority of our guests. If you compare Helsinki and Zurich for example, they’re the same size wise but Zurich is still much more advanced in business operations and such vs. Helsinki.
Running small, private business vs. bigger one? What do you like about being a small business owner?
I used to work before as part of big business and I must say I prefer more running a small business. Decisions are sometimes made in seconds, there is not so much thinking through and having endless sheets or power point documents but rather going by the feeling and knowing what’s the right decision or the next step in the given moment.
I also like that I have a great and close relationship with my employees and they feel like family members rather than my workers. I don’t think that it’s possible to have that in big business.
Also, my days are all different. It might sound like a cliche but every day is different. I might have an empty schedule when driving in with my car to work and suddenly it might be that it’s 9 pm and I’m only then going home. That can be good and bad but mostly a good thing and I like that.
Why name KOTI apartments?
I used to own KOTI hotel before and I sold my business to Forenom apartments in 2015. I have then lost my “rights” on that specific name so when I was about to open KOTI apartments I chose that name half because I had some melancholic attachment to my previous business and half because KOTI means home in Finnish and that’s exactly the feeling which I wanted to create at KOTI. It can be of course modern design, luxurious and classy apartments with great equipment but the feeling needs to be the one of “home”. It is nice to see that not many people who visit us know what KOTI means in Finnish but when they come over and get that homey vibes and find out the meaning of “koti” in my language they connect the dots and are pleasantly surprised that the name fits the feeling of the place. 🙂
What inspires you or makes you happiest the most in your work?
I can honestly say that I’m the happiest when I interact with my visitors. Due to the current situation I have been “locked up” inside of my office for the past 3 months and I miss the daily interaction with our guests. It is part of our KOTI vibes, to see me or Jasmin and have a smiling face say hi and wish you a nice day. I am also happy when I hear that our clients are happy and that we have met or exceeded the expectations. I’m happy when I hear that somebody had been marketing us in “mouth to mouth” way and they have only good things to say, that is what truly inspires me and gives me motivation to go forward.
What is the best place you’ve ever stayed at like hotel/ apartment/ etc?
I would say that the best experience was last Summer in one boutique hotel in Lourdes, France. I went there with my girlfriend because of Tour De France and could easily go each day with car or by bike, from the hotel to see different stages of the Tour de France. I liked the fact that it was ran by elder couple who would also every morning prepare big breakfast table for all of us and each morning you would be seated differently so you get to meet and talk to different people. I liked that.
When it comes to my benchmark place/ hotel, I always stay at Ett Hem hotel in Stockholm who’s name by chance means home in Swedish just like KOTI does in Finnish. 😀
What’s your life motto?
Angels live in details. Some people say for the contracts that the devil lives in details and I was thinking that Angels live in details because in my work, you have to have basic ground great but details are what makes the work or place stand out and special. We have lots of little details at KOTI and I think that it is nice touch. But it is true that if basics are not right, then details won’t matter at all. If I put a bowl of candy at your room it won’t make you happy if rooms are not clean or if our staff is not nice.
Recommend a book, movie and song?
Favorite book is by Simon Sinek, Start With Why
Texas country music, something like Kenny Chesney.
Name 3 things everyone should do or see when staying at KOTI apartments?
I think that if it’s first time someone is visiting Helsinki and staying at KOTI apartments they should go to Loyly, Suomenlinna island and jump on the tram 10 which stops next to KOTI and wonder off. 🙂
Thank you Hannu for this interview!