Díana Mjöll was born in 1974 and was raised in a village of 1,000 inhabitants on the east coast of Iceland called Eskifjörður. You can say that she was raised in tourism because her father ran a bus company and she never let him out of sight and experienced the privilege of travelling all over Iceland from the age of six months. Her dream was always to travel the world, get to know people and learn new languages and in 1992 she spent a year in Germany as an exchange student and in 1995, she spent 7 months in France as an Au-pair. These experiences gave her the opportunity to scratch her travel bug and to meet a lot of new people, many of whom are still her best friends.
She graduated from The Icelandic School of Travel and Tourism in Reykjavík, in the year of 2000 with an international IATA/UFTAA Diploma as a travel consultant and in marketing. Díana Mjöll has three children, born 1999, 2002 and 2005. The oldest and youngest ones are boys and the one in the middle is a girl. She got married to her husband in 2001 having been in a relationship with him from 1992, his name is Sigurbjörn. Díana Mjöll and Sigurbjörn moved from Reykjavík back “home” as they say, in the beginning of the year 2001, where Díana has been focusing on the travel business with her father and her husband came along in 2005. Díana’s interests are travelling, meeting new people, outdoor activities and enjoying time with her family and friends.
How do the experiences you offer at Tanni Travel give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your Iceland?
Here at Tanni travel we aim to give people an authentic and personal experience of Icelandic nature and Icelandic society. I believe that travelers want to connect with the community that they are visiting. At the same time, I believe that the society that we live in has a much interest in being good hosts and providing a unique experience for travelers in the area. Our mission is to try to connect the traveler with local people so that they experience themselves as a part of the community. One example of how we do this is that travelers can buy a dinner at a local home with an Icelandic family and really get to know how people in Iceland live. The local community has been very supportive of our endeavors and takes pride in introducing travelers to the Icelandic culture.
How have the tour that you offer evolved since their inception?
Few years ago we partnered with others in the local tourist industry to form a cluster of companies that aim to make the stay in East Iceland unique for travelers coming to the area. The project is called Meet the Locals. When this concept was first conceived we had a pretty clear vision of what we wanted to do. We have remained true to the original concept of Meet the Locals, which is to give travelers an authentic experience and give them a taste of what life is like in Eastern Iceland. Through the years we have built new trips and experiences for travelers around this concept.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
In the whole of Iceland live around 330.000 people. In the eastern part of Iceland live only about 10.000 people. We are far from the beaten track and life here is quite relaxed. I sometimes wonder whether people traveling through the area experience just how slow life moves here. It is an important part of the experience of living here having time to enjoy the little things in life and really be present with what is happening. It would be great if travelers coming to visit us were able to tap into this experience and really get to feel what life is like in the slow lane.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in a tour with Tanni Travel?
Iceland maybe an Island, but it’s still pretty big. If you want to experience the country and all it has to offer you need time. If you are coming to Iceland make sure that you are not rushing it too much and you have time to really take inn all that the country has to offer.
What is one unexpected piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize their enjoyment of the experiences you offer?
One of the most important piece of equipment that people should have when they are traveling in Iceland is a solid pair of hiking boots. There are many hiking trails all over the country that are worth seeing. Also they come in handy when you’re looking at waterfalls in Iceland. They will help keep you safe when walking in rough terrain and make the whole experience more joyful. Another piece of article that people should really consider bringing along is a swimsuit. In Iceland there are many thermal pools which it can be good to relax in after a long day of traveling. Many of the pools also have areas for children and slides making them enjoyable for the whole family.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
I feel that many tourists are now searching for an unique experience. More and more people want to venture of the beaten track and search out the areas and activities that are not yet mainstream. For us living in rural areas in Iceland this is a wonderful opportunity to tap into a vast amount off natural wonders waiting to be discovered.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
In Iceland mostly only the costal line is inhabited. Which is why we have a ringroad (our main road) around the country. The ringroad will take you through many wonderful towns and to many natural wonders. But it’s also the shortest way around Iceland and if you don’t deviate from it you will miss out. Therefore, I would urge travelers to venture past the ringroad and experience the road less travelled. There are many beautiful sites that lie beyond it that are well worth seeing.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
I think what has helped us to grow through the years is patience. The eastern part of Iceland is still an area off the beaten path. I have learned for trips and experiences to be able to establish themselves they need time. It can take two to three years to for new products to build a reputation We have also given ourselves time to grow in a manner that allows us to maintain the level of services that we want to provide. We want people to connect a relaxed and joyful experiences to East Iceland. That means giving us time to grow and in mature in a way that reflects who we want to be as a company.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
I think that one of the habits that have helped me to navigate the company is respecting its history and its value. We at Tanni Travel are a company that is rich with experience and tradition. The company was established in 1993 but its operations date back the 1970‘ies. I have kept an open mind and through the years we have tried many new things. But through it all I have also let our original value guide us. The company’s motto is experience – ambition – fun and we have let those words be our guiding light through the years. What matters most to us is the experience of our customers and we pride yourselves in going the extra mile for our clients.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
One of the more endearing experiences that I have had was with a guest that was having dinner at a local home. After the dinner when he was leaving he thanked for the dinner and experience and remarked “I came as a stranger but I leave as a friend”. The moment I heard him say that I knew that he had captured the essence of the experience we wanted to provide. Since the line come as a stranger, leave as a friend has become the catchphrase for our project Meet the Locals.