Episode 347 – Björn Ingi Knútsson talks about Icelandic tourism, conquering yourself, and managing logistics


Björn Ingi Knútsson is one of the major reasons that Matt and his friends had such a positive experience in Iceland. He was the group’s tour guide and was instrumental in either setting up or influencing many of the “Lessons from Iceland” Matt talked about in Episode 340. Bjorn is a native Icelander and has tremendous experience within the business and hospitality sectors, both in Iceland and around the world. He became a tour guide later in life when he was looking for something fun to do. He is also a certified wine expert and runs an attraction of his own, Vínskólinn Við Vatnið, which translates to “Wine School by the Lake”. In this episode, Bjorn talks about Icelandic tourism, conquering yourself and managing logistics.

Icelandic Tourism

“We have way more tourism in the Southwest of Iceland.”

Compared to the US, Icelandic tourism is in its infancy. In fact, the majority of tourists who come to visit Iceland stay in the Southwestern corner of the country, which is where you find the major airport, the capital city of Reykjavík and destinations like the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon Spa. But if you venture out to the East and North, you will encounter unparalleled (and undisturbed) beauty. 

Icelandic tourism has gotten major boosts from a few things over the years. First, a volcano that erupted that drew people to the area, and second, a marketing campaign that highlighted Iceland as a convenient stop-over between New York and Europe. Of course, not every Icelander is keen on turning their home into a tourist destination. Bjorn told us of two farmers who owned the property on either side of a canyon. One embraced tourism, the other did not. It’s unfortunate, Bjorn said, because the farmer with the better view is the one who is against the influx of tourists. 

Conquering yourself

“I have a mindset that I need to go outside of my comfort zone and tackle things.”

Bjorn has accomplished a lot in his life, both personally and professionally. From beating cancer to starting a new career late in life, Bjorn knows what it’s like to either be pushed out of his comfort zone, or to push himself beyond his current limits. 

When Bjorn decided to test for his wine certification, he felt it was like going back to school. But, he said, in those situations you just have to read, research and learn in order to be ready for the next challenge. In many ways, Bjorn was inferring that we have to conquer our present self to grow into our future self. 

Managing logistics

“Instead of calling Ops to do things, you take matters into your own hands.”

Whether directing the operations of Iceland’s largest airport or executing a tour for 18 people, Bjorn emphasizes the importance of personally managing the logistics that matter to the end user’s experience. For example, in Iceland, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s imperative to look ahead, use your resources and make contingency plans. 

Even on Matt’s tour, there were sights and experiences that they had to miss because of closed roads. Luckily, Bjorn looked ahead, knew of some alternative options and made a plan. The result was a seamless, and extremely enjoyable, experience. 


To learn more about Bjorn and his wine school, check out Vínskólinn Við Vatnið.

This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our faaaaaantastic team:

  • Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
  • Audio and video editing by Abby Giganan

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