Croatia Travel Trends for USA Market: Al Merschen Presentation on Hvar

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Where does Croatia travel fit in American priorities and interest? An in-depth analysis at Days of Croatian Tourism on Hvar on October 25, 2018.

Among the many fascinating discussions and panels held at the 2018 Days of Croatian Tourism on Hvar this week was an in-depth look at the perception of Croatia as a tourist destination with the American market. Al Merschen of Myriad Marketing provided a comprehensive overview of a targeted survey of Americans interested in travel to Croatia. In order to give the research more relevance to Croatia, the survey target group was confined to households with an annual income of more than $100,000 who had taken a holiday in the previous 12 months to a destination further than Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. 

Setting the Croatia Travel Context for the USA Market.

While the focus of the presentation was on Croatia, Merschen gave some great insights into the trends of American tourists, which was an interesting overview into the trends of tourism promotion in this increasingly digital age. Apologies in advance for the quality of some of the photos – I was sat a little further back than I would have liked in Hvar’s historic Arsenal, but I will explain all in the text below each slide.  

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The top five reasons for travelling all play to Croatia’s strengths – experiencing different cultures, exploration/adventure, experiencing new cuisines, variety of tourism product, and relaxation, all of which Croatia does with aplomb. 

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The top six countries of interest in Europe are Italy, England, France, Spain, Germany and Ireland. As Merschen pointed out, these are all countries with sizable diaspora (Croatia has around 1.2 million diaspora in the United States) – a target market in addition to regular American tourists.  

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The most important methods of searching for destination ideas and information are travel review websites, online search, destination websites and recommendations for friends and family – good news for our little website, which gets 60% of traffic from Google Search and has a number of destination websites. 

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The declining interest of print media is there for all to see, as is the power of travel review sites. Interestingly, Merschen explained that while the majority of people travelling now are millennials, the majority of those leaving comments on review sites are baby boomers, so children are listening to their parents after all, at least in terms of travel recommendations… 

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A big surprise for me in this age of terror was that almost two-thirds of American tourists had no problem flying with a non-US airline. 

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And if there was any doubt in where the world is going in terms of seeking information, this slide says it all –  average daily time spent with media – more than 6 hours online, just 23 minutes with print. 

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Welcome to the world of the power of the mobile. 

Croatia Travel Study – Results of Myriad Marketing Survey of USA Market.


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Moving to the research into the Croatian market, there was some very encouraging information, as well as some opportunities to build on. Almst half surveyed had an interest in Croatia, with some 23% Croatia travel veterans. 

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The biggest interest group are millennials. And before you think cheap backpackers, the oldest millennials these days are 37. 

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More good news for Croatia in the length of stay survey – the vast majority from 4-7 days and 1-2 weeks. 

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And some of the best news of all – Americans are very prepared to spend, spend, spend – a much higher vacation spend on average than Croatia is currently enjoying. 

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The most interesting places to visit threw up some surprises, and at least one huge unexploited opportunity. Interest in wine and wineries is above Game of Thrones. And yet Croatia does not have an official website about wine to help address this obvious need. TCN started a dedicated website about wine, Total Croatia Wine, to meet this need. Perhaps it is time to make a wine road for Damatia too… 

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Food tours and wine tastings figure high on the list of things to do. Croatia has so much potential as a top gourmet destination – potential immortalised by the late Anthony Bourdain in his No Reservations show about Croatia six years ago. 

Croatia has the potential to be on a par with France, Italy and Spain as a gourmet tourism destination, but it has some way to go to reach that level. But the potential – and the demand – is there.  

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Among the best – and most surprising – news was that some 85% of those surveyed did not see the need to change planes to reach Croatia as a barrier. Although the first direct flights from the USA to Dubrovnik after the war will commence next summer, the lack of direct flights is perceived as being a major obstacle to North American tourism to Croatia. It appears that it is not. 

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And for those not interested in Croatia, the reasons for lack of interest in Croatia travel were also encouraging. Nothing specific or negative in the key reasons – no destination suits everyone. 

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Croatia has a major appeal to exploit – its attraction as a different cultural experience. 

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A closer look at the interest in gourmet tourism also reveals interesting results – who needs Michelin-star restaurants when you can have local and street food experiences?

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Those travel review websites have a major pull.  

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A lot more so than recommendations from friends and family. 

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And an interesting statistic for those planning for next season – the largest number of people researching their Croatia travel do so 6 months before arriving. 

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The power of social media. 

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The average age of people interested in visiting Croatia was a lot higher than I imagined, and things must be good in the States, as more holidays are envsiaged next year than last. 

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A profile of the people surveyed interested in Croatia travel from the United States. 

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And, given the distance involved, a rather surprising number of respondents who are interested in Croatia travel with young children and/or teenagers – good news for Croatian tourism providers in the high-quality family tourism segment. 

Plenty of great information from Al Merschen’s presentation, and the news is very, very good and the (that word we use in Croatian tourism so much) potential is huge. Can it be turned into bigger tourism numbers of high-spending American guests?

Many thanks to Al Merschen for such a thought-provoking presentation. You can learn more about Myriad Marketing here.


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