Ice hotels have become popular touristic experiences in Arctic areas. But a Finnish family has developed the idea. It is possible not only to sleep in an snow and ice construction, but also to contribute to the building of it. Oksanen et al (2012) outline the story about the innovative family enterprise SnowBrick:
“The history of the Luminite service concept goes back to the early 1990s, when the owner of a Rovaniemi-based architecture office decided to focus on resource abundance in winterish Lapland – snow and the opportunities it opens in skillful hands for design and building. In the beginning, the company developed a snow building method based on mould-designed snow brick, as well as smaller moulds for snow decorations and a set of tools for the design of snow.
The development of techniques and tools for snow design, together with a thorough know-how of snow as a building material, subsequently turned out to be a critical factor for the development of the Luminite service package. The original idea for the concept came from a local tour operator, who wanted to offer tourists visiting Lapland a new type of accommodation experience. The company designed a number of different versions of an easy-to-use igloo assembly kit before finding the feasible model which was patented and put into use.” (p. 29)
“As an experience offering, Luminite is modular; the visiting tourists can build their own igloos assisted by guidance from SnowBrick staff; they can overnight in the igloo built with their own hands and, in addition, there is an opportunity to use smaller moulds and tools to design various figures from snow alongside the igloo building. Depending on their wishes, the customers can select a combination most suitable for them – either having the total service package, including building the igloo and staying overnight in it, or having the experience of building an igloo after which they continue to the next attraction, or alternatively arrive and spend the night in a ready-made igloo. Necessary accessories (sleeping bags etc.) are included in the service. As a service targeted at tourists, SnowBrick’s Luminite concept exemplifies several aspects of experience innovation and includes entertaining, aesthetic and learning aspects wrapped in a well thought-out process.
The igloo provides a high arousal out-of-the-ordinary experience of accommodation, compared to a regular hotel room. The concept links technological and non-technological elements into a distinctive experience offering and actively involves tourists in the production of experience through the building of an igloo. This is an exemplar of co-creation of experience as discussed by Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004). Using and forming snow with specific tools and building an igloo offer tourists a first-hand opportunity for learning by doing – an important element of a memorable experience. The use of snow as a building material also highlights the sustainability of the concept. The fact that all these activities take place in a specific surrounding near the Arctic Circle in Lapland underlines the significance of the dedicated context for experience. As a whole, the attractiveness of the offering is based on the uniqueness of the experience leaving a long-lasting memory.” (p 30)
Oksanen, J., Lammi, M., Loikkanen, T., Rask, M., Pepo, P., Timonen, P. (2012). Experience innovation. Co-creating value with users. Espoo: VTT Technology http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/technology/2012/T38.pdf
See this publication for other fascinating Arctic tourism innovations.