The History of Touring Cars brand
Providing dream holidays since 1982
With inspirations from Russian market and a bit of a touch of Kuopio; Touring Cars was born under the northern stars in the Eastern part of Finland. The exciting journey started in 1982 from a small town in Finland and this story still continues as a European wide international franchise chain concept.
Touring Cars provides the most unique motorhome rental holidays for all generations with a fine combination of tourism and hospitality. Company was the pioneer provider of this service in Finland and has been a strong developer in the industry over the years in the Nordic countries. Today, the company, together with entrepreneurs, is the finest motorhome leasing organisation which offers high-rated travel services in luxury products across 11 different countries in Europe.
Touring Cars is a dedicated service provider with 40 years of business competence, over 150 assigned tour operator partners worldwide and a strong strategic collaboration with Hobby, the leading caravan and motorhome manufacturer from Germany.
Touring Cars Founded
As we start this retrospective of how Touring Cars came to be and its success, we first have to mention the most significant person of the company’s life cycle, who had a pivotal role and who determined Touring Cars’ future. Touring Cars was, in fact, born under Northern Stars when a famous Hollywood movie star rented the first motorhome from what is soon to be Touring Cars.
Hollywood star Lee Marvin played the leading role in the film Gorky’s Park, which was filmed in Helsinki. As a break and dressing room for the starring actor, the filmmakers decided to rent a motor home, familiar to Americans, but a rarity at that time in Finland, as well as entire Europe. After a tough search process, such motor home was finally found in Kuopio in Eastern Finland and was rented for Mr. Marvin. The foundation for the present camper renting business was thereby laid – and Touring Cars was established.
Lee Marvin, 1982
Passion has always been an enormous part of the company – passion towards vehicles, camping cars and above all, passion to serve its clients to the maximum and above. The proof that this passion is deeply rooted in the company’s foundation lies in the past, as well as the present. Acting upon company’s values and aims, the former owner rebuilt Touring Cars’ first motorhome model with their own hands, just to serve Lee Marvin as the number one rising star.
Born Under Northern Stars
The key behind a franchise concept starts at the early stage, and it means constant planning, creative way of thinking, taking chances and moving forward. Always focused on the next step and looking at challenges from a higher perspective.
'I remember the day clearly' – Tanja Saarnio, Head of Touring Cars Motorhome Rental Franchise and Chairman of the Board adds. 'The overall procedure was not always fairy tale and sunshine with cocktails by the beach. We had to go through all the necessary measures and challenges to start our franchise operations and to become a strong, successful brand as we are today'.
In fact, behind every business a creative entrepreneur stands firm. Mrs Saarnio originally started to operate Touring Cars in an early age while still studying at the university. Her interest was longing to the Russian market, therefore, she chose the language as her major while she was actively working for Touring Cars and participating in several sports activities
Former owner quickly realized Tanja´s outstanding skills. Thanks to her hard-work, strong dedication and creative mindset, she was meant to take care of Touring Cars. Eventually in 1991, Mrs. Saarnio became the Managing Director of the company and the world never been the same after all.
Touring Cars started to blossom and spread its seeds across Scandinavia. This time with a different concept and fresh idea. After carefully choosing the right partners with full allegiance, TC Vehicle Oy became the number one operator with a unique business model and concept.
Since then, Mrs. Tanja Saarnio represents as one of the most remarkable franchise business owners in Finland and across Europe.
The First Steps Ahead
The first business cooperation began immediately in 1985. Sweden was seen as a potential market for a combination of motorhome rental and holiday concept. That was a start for a flourishing operations in Stockholm. Within few year, company also expanded into the Norwegian market (1989).
Over the following years, Touring Cars became like a family which provided `Good Feelings` motorhome rentals and assured the greatest holiday experiences with maximum quality of hospitality. The concept formed its special meaning in 1999 at the time when the currently recognized brand and a comprehensive marketing communication was built.
The Key to Freedom
Mrs. Tanja Saarnio became the sole owner of Touring Cars. The company decided to invest in a good-quality camper fleet and put an emphasis on customer service; the customer-oriented magazine Key To Freedom was also founded.
By that time, the company grew strongly and at the same time the investment earning system was created. Touring Cars’ major focus was to strengthen local presence and expand across the country. That is the reason why Touring Cars started to import motorhomes into Finland e.g. Viva, Frankia and Hymer campers, but terminated the import business and concentrated on the cooperation with Lohja Caravans, Solifers made by Hymer.
Hymer Caravans, 1996 - 2000
The Upheaval and the Industry
Meanwhile, in 2001 global tourism industry faced a challenging period caused by the terrible incident known as the 09/11. However, according to the company mindset, challenges are meant to be overcome. Despite the global situation, Touring Cars did not give up on its innovative operations and decided to focus on technology and business digitalization.
In 2002, Touring Cars created its staff training program and quality handbook, with the help of which their qualifications were enhanced and their aspiration to an even better customer service heightened. The company joined the quality system 1Q00 (Laatutonni) of the Finnish Tourist Board MEK.
Touring Cars expanded its activities to Sweden by buying the already established business of its franchising partners. The customer magazine was revised and was marketed to international travel bureaus. The company became a member of the Association of Finnish Travel Agents AFTA.
In 2004, Touring Cars expanded its activities even further by opening offices in Kuopio, Pori and Oulu. We wer awarded official praise by the Finnish Tourist Board while Dunn & Bradstreet awarded the company the highest credit rating, AAA.
Dedication and Support
Only a year later, in 2005, Touring Cars expanded its camper fleet and started its own direct import cooperation with Hymer Fabric. We were elected as `The Most Innovative Tourist Company` of the year. One of the jury members was the Finnish Tourist Board, which also awarded Touring Cars with the Quality Award.
Along with the expansion of business activities, Touring Cars opened a new full-service camper centre in Vantaa. New premises enabled diverse renting and service activities, such as customer service, to be done simultaneously and even smoother. The Association for Finnish Work awarded Touring Cars Oy the Key Flag symbol, which shows that a product is manufactured or a service produced in Finland. It is a symbol for quality, safety, and sustainability.
Touring Cars Oy always had a strong belief in the future. In 2007, by means of its excellent staff, the company created unique tourist experiences for its customers and rewarding experiences for its cooperation partners as a decision-making company member of the Quality Centre Excellence Finland.
When the conceptualizing process began, numerous doors opened for our fruitful business. The next chapter in 2009 started with Touring Cars Iceland and its motorhome rental operations. During those years in between, the brand grew significantly with 125 motorhome vehicles and 30.000 overnight stays. The vision and the brand´s visibility resulted in over 120 tour operator partnerships and travel agent co-operations worldwide.
A Valued Partner – Cooperation with Hobby-Wohnwagenwerk GmbH
Before 2013 the company never stopped pursuing its success. Back in 2012, Touring Cars celebrated its 30th anniversary and a massive three decades of extraordinary growth by initiating the company transformation through a new growth strategy.
In 2013 Touring Cars officially became a franchise business. Back then, Touring Cars already verified dedicated partnerships with world-wide tour operators and travel agencies and was running a vehicle fleet of over 200 units. In fact, our dream became true when Hobby, the leading motorhome and caravan manufacturer, became our most valued business partner.
It did not take much time until the second agreement was signed, this time in Iceland. In 2014, local franchisee agreement is signed in Reykjavik, Iceland and TC Rent Ltd is founded and the current franchise network concept and structure is established.
As our business concept flourished, in 2016 we made our strategic partnership with Hobby which allowed Touring Cars to provide the maximum quality motorhomes available to our valued customers.
With over 50 years of experience in vehicle manufacturing, Hobby provides a premium and convenient setting for Touring Cars travel concept. Spacious design, quality and functionality, are at core of our motorhomes.
As none of the service providers out in the market would reach such high potential without a powerful team, the International Sales Office and Licence Management Organisation located in Helsinki were reshaped and grew gradually. Anyhow, one favorable aspect did not change: the dedication towards customers and their needs. Our personalized, yet professional support allowed Touring Cars business concept to keep the sustainable development path without losing a touch of our strategic value - customer satisfaction and highly dedicated approach with our respected partners.
In 2017, Touring Cars expanded its concept to new countries like Estonia, United Kingdom and Spain.
The following year, in 2018, Barcelona and Riga joined our franchise team and opened its rental stations to assure the most unique, yet luxurious motorhome rental concept in the local and international markets.
The Significant Changes
As Touring Cars followed a massive sustainable development period, it reached a strong European-wide international presence with over 17 rental stations and franchisees by 2019.
Throughout 2019, several rental stations opened its doors to the public. The most exciting destinations became members in the Touring Cars concept with dedication and premium quality. Zagreb (Croatia), Nantes (France), Evenes (Norway), Moscow (Russia) and Scotland (UK) joined Touring Cars to strengthen our international mobility and to spread the passion of an exclusive motorhome holiday concept across Europe.
Together We Are Stronger
Sustainable business growth is more than strategic choice of market expansions and fine tuning with internal processes and standardized operations. To have the lead role in the business, organisation should also be managed by skilled, highly motivated, energetic and committed professionals. Hence, several new positions were opened over the years alongside the growth path to strengthen the capacity and expertise of the licence owner organisation.
Another significant change was made when new board members entered our international team. Since 2019, Mr. Jonas Ideström and Kari Neilimo has been at core of building Touring Cars success.
Mr. Jonas Ideström is the most contracted franchise consultant and internationally wellknown of his talented franchise operations with over 100 companies in Scandinavia. Mr. Ideström is a chairman of the Swedish Franchise Association and has been a board member of the European Franchise Federation (EFF) throughout many years. Today, Mr. Ideström himself is a Found Partner and Honorary Member of Franchise Arkitekt with a dedicated support towards Touring Cars. His presence in our business culture allows us to strategically reach out the franchisees with a sustainable growth, to fully support our entrepreneurs and expand Touring Cars portfolio to a European-wide coverage by 2025.
'I have worked with independent company owners as franchisees practically all my professional life. The energy, optimism and drive that I find in these people is the most invigorating I know. Nothing is impossible for an entrepreneur. That's what I call The Power of Franchise' - Mr. Jonas Ideström adds.
Many of us could study from Mr. Kari Neilimo, Ph.D., and his Strategic Management and Management Accounting written footprints. In fact, not many know about the professor´s significant path and highly demanding professional activities across decades. Mr. Neilimo was the CEO and Chairman of Board of Directors of S-Group, visiting professor of Strategic Management and Management Accounting in several universities in Finland and abroad, Director of General Executive MBA Program since 2008, Industrial Advisor, CEO and the founder of Neiconsulting Oy, a consultation company for strategic management. Today Mr. Kari is a dedicated board member of Touring Cars. His presence helps our local and international business culture to flourish.
The Key to Success
Each day, thousands of travelers choose Touring Cars in order to experience a genuine urban and rural places in Europe and to enjoy the flavors of vibrant unique atmosphere.
If you are a passionate explorer with a strong interest in outdoor activities or if you consider yourself a culture guru with a need to know more about history and art, a motorhome holiday with Touring Cars allows you to fulfill the adventurous side of you. Our motorhome holiday concept is easy, comfortable, unique, yet greatly adventurous and exotic. Let's share moments together!
Touring Cars currently operates in 12 countries with 20 local rental stations with the mission to provide you with excellent starting points for your next holiday.
We Are Touring Cars Motorhome Rental
Your Key to Freedom