As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after two terms and seven years holding the position of director of the Croatian National Tourist Board across the pond in the United States, Ina Rodin has taken to entrepreneurship.
Over recent days in New York, she founded a company called IR Global Consultants and a brand called Convene Hospitality, and she will provide consulting services in the tourism and travel industry.
As Ina Rodin revealed, her future work will continue to include the promotion of the Republic of Croatia, and she plans to pay special attention to strengthening the luxury tourism segment, including working on a greater presence of strong luxury hotel brands across Croatia. This former HTZ Office director was especially praised in the sector for the significant results she achieved during her two terms, and the successful positioning of Croatia as an increasingly desirable destination for American tourists.
During her tenure, Ina Rodin, among other things, developed a strong collaboration with Virtuos, a leading American and global luxury tourism group, which awarded her as Ambassador of the Year at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas back in 2017.
In addition, Ina Rodin recently received the “Tourist Oscar” in sunny Miami, a silver award won by the Croatian National Tourist Board in the category of the best European tourist organisation, while Croatia won a bronze medal in the category of the best destination in the entire Mediterranean.
This is the second time that Croatia has been awarded the Tourism Oscar, the first time taking place in New York back in pre-pandemic 2019.
“In our sector, what I’ll do is called ‘representation’ services. In fact, it will be like classic consulting, combining supply and demand, plus strengthening the image of the American market through the placement of stories and products in the media. I’m going to try to capitalise on everything I learned during my two terms in America, but also partially return to the consulting business for hotels, which I was in before I went to the US,” explained Rodin.
The United States is the most promising distant market for Croatia
For Ina Rodin, leaving HTZ doesn’t have to mean leaving America, which she currently considers the most ”potent” and promising distant emitting market for Croatian tourism.
“America has the most potential for Croatian tourism than all other distant markets and the promotion of the country should definitely be even more present there, especially since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, as it will take several more years before the normalisation of relations and tourist traffic with China and the whole of Asia begins. This past summer, with the introduction of direct flights to Croatia from the United States, it turned out that this potential was recognised by American companies, which took the opportunity, because Croatia was one of the few countries that allowed Americans to travel back then. However, our openness and interest should be cashed in in the coming years, so I will work on further cooperation with the airlines,” explained Ina Rodin, who, in addition to the US market, also plans to pay special attention to nearby Canada. That market has been rather neglected so far, although it has great potential, she believes.
Canada in focus
“This market is very interesting to us for several reasons. First of all, Croatia has a strong diaspora in Canada, and partly because we have good infrastructure, there are direct flights. So there is already some relationship there. In addition, Toronto is one of the largest bases, it has the most good travel agents who sell not only to Canadian, but also to American clients. I’m especially interested in this segment of luxury tourism, because there are a lot of agents in Canada who belong to either Virtuos or Travel Leaders, and these are the leading consortia for luxury tourism,” she noted.
Of course, Croatia still has a lot of work to do when it comes to building a luxury product that interests both American and Canadian guests, which can be “twisted” in this supply and demand chain that already exists. Rodin therefore plans to capitalise on his current relationship with Virtuoso, by helping Croatian companies and hotel companies become part of that same Virtuoso “family” or some other similar consortium.
Virtuoso is already present in Croatia, there are two DMCs that are members of Virtuoso in Croatia, as well as seven hotels. In 2021, Virtuoso gained four more Croatian brands, Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, Ikador Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa Icici, Maslina Resort Hvar and Villa Korta Katarina & Winery.
One step further…
“But we don’t want to just stop there, the more hotels we get, the greater the opportunity we have to satisfy this segment of guests, who are looking for special facilities provided only by Virtuoso hotels. However, it should be borne in mind that the offer of luxury products in Croatia is still quite limited, not everyone is ready to host this profile of guests.
These are guests who spend a lot of money on various services, exclusively staying in 4 and 5 star hotels. At the same time, it’s no longer so important to them that they have to stay in well-known hotel chains, such as the Hilton or Marriott, which was the case with previous generations of travellers.
This is especially true for those Americans who have already travelled to and around Europe, they are experienced travellers who are looking for local experiences, boutique hotels, and local brands aren’t excluded,” explained Rodin.
However, it would be great for Croatia to turn to some more serious hotel brands with a luxury portfolio that are present in the world, to put Croatia on the map of luxury tourism. The guests she’s talking about would like to have brands in Croatia such as Aman, One & Only, Capella, Six Senses, Rosewood.
Although Croatia may not yet have reached the level of prices that would be profitable for the entry of some of these luxury brands, if we had any of these hotels, the destination would have more of a punch to pack,” concluded Ina Rodin, who plans to work on such projects here in Croatia.
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