And there are many reasons for him to be proud because for an agency from Croatia to have an office in New York is a great success and a huge challenge. It’s one thing to come to a tourist fair for a couple of days, and quite another to be present at the market every single day, writes hrturizam.
“We are starting with one project directed at all tourist boards in Croatia. It unifies the presentation of Croatia as a tourist destination to more than 2,000 agents in America. For the American market, we will present tourist destinations through 4 regions, plus “Best of Croatia.” American agents will go through training, be it 45-minute or 60-minute lessons, separate for the regions of Croatia,” says Weinpert.
The decision to open an office did not come overnight. Pointers Travel has been working on a market expansion for the last five years, and they have been to various fairs in America during that period. The opening of the office followed a logical sequence of events. American agents for sure view it differently when an agency is present on-site in the USA.
“This is our 10th time appearing on the American market – last year we went to 5 fairs, this year two, and before that with the Croatian Tourist Board. We were there before the pandemic. We already have two fairs arranged for next year. Next year we are going to Chicago and New York; the contracts have already been signed. Opening an office in NY immediately turned out to be a great move. We have already seen at the fair that it changes a lot. Travel agents and companies prefer to work with a company from the USA.
I can say that these are extremely large investments. So far, attending 7 trade fairs plus the ones before, while being present for two years on the American market, was a significant investment. We had some support from the EU, but we really gave it our all – not just financially, but our energy,” points out Weinpert and emphasizes that, according to their experience, American agents are extremely interested in Croatia.
“Croatia is becoming one of the top three locations in Europe for the American market, and we realized that Americans still need to learn a lot about Croatia. They know some information, but they don’t have much detail. Seeing as Pointers has more than 400 videos, and we work with more than 150 tourist boards all over Croatia, the decision is to approach agents in such a way. We will also do PR activities on the American market, as well as online campaigns, all kinds – adverts, Facebook, and PR articles on the American market”, states Weinpert.
Focus on the pre- and post-season: Americans do not want to go to Croatia at the peak of the tourist season
Another sector that Pointers travel will cover is strategic assistance to tourist communities. Again, it is one thing to take up advertising space in the media, and quite another to have partners who are on the market, presenting, and know the market best. This is something that every tourist board should take full advantage of if it’s trying to communicate with the American market.
When asked what their cooperation with tourism boards will entail, Weinpert states three directions.
“We give the tourist boards the opportunity to become our partners in the project and, in that way, present their tourist destination, the special features of the destination and, what is very important, want to help them boost the pre-season, and post-season. Americans don’t want to come during peak season; they do not find that interesting.
Secondly, we can bring them visitors with high paying power. We try to make sure that the events in which they invest significant funds are well attended, that they are sufficiently present in the American media and presented to agents as if we are “selling” the new contents of their destinations. For example, if a destination has invested in cycling or hiking in recent years, then we will focus on what they have invested in. This is how we give tourism boards the opportunity to cooperate.”
The project officially starts on the 10th of March with the arrival of the first American agents in Croatia. These are agents who own companies in both America and the Emirates and cover the markets of America, the Emirates, and India.
“They want to come, they have 5 days, and their entire tour of Croatia this time starts from Baranja. We start from Baranja, Osijek, and the rest of Slavonia. Then we go via the golden hills of Papuk, Velika, towards Varaždin, the pearl that is Zagorje, Zagreb, we tour the famous four rivers, Gorski kotar, Lika, and Plitvice. Via Knin and Split, we end up in Dubrovnik.
One of the tours goes to Umag to the Kampinski Resort and includes a tour of Istrian wineries. We provide agents with study trips to Croatia, which allow them to get to know Croatia as a whole. What we are going to do now is to create more than 30 types of travel packages for the whole of Croatia; there will be between 50 and 60 travel packages, and they will be given to agents in America for use.
We provide agents with more than 10,000 photos, free of charge. These are photos that Pointers has been able to create together with tourist boards in the last 7 years, and we provide them with more than 400 videos of professional quality,” explains Weinpert and adds that the benefit of what they have been doing in Croatia for the past seven years is finally being recognized.
The third segment, which is included in the entire project and is very important, is cooperation with hotels, restaurants, wineries, and destination attractions. Naturally, they find it interesting to be on the route and defined itineraries of the American agents.
“We go to the hotels in those destinations with which we cooperate; we go to quality restaurants, wineries, and attractions. We offer them cooperation on an annual level, on a contractual basis, where we also present them and include them in tourist packages. We bring agents to introduce them to all of this. I expect that by the end of the year, a large number of agents from America will come to Croatia, a few dozen. I don’t know if the number will reach a hundred, but many American agents will certainly come to Croatia this year,” points out Weinpert.
Croatia is an undiscovered jewel of Europe for American tourists
It is difficult to generalize, especially when the American market is concerned, but when asked what the perception of Croatia is on the American market, Weinpert emphasizes that there is great interest for this Adriatic beauty.
Americans want to avoid the biggest crowds in the peak season; they want a different type of vacation than just chilling at the beach; Weinpert further explains and points out that American tourists are looking for packages where they can taste and experience quality gastronomy and wine, and see natural and cultural sights.
“We got to know the American market well; we saw that its potential is huge, that Croatia is well accepted, that our prices do not pose any problem to them, and that they need much more in-depth information about Croatia. We push packages that last 14 days, some 7 days of cruising the Adriatic and visiting the main points along the coast, and after that, the continental areas, via Zagreb to the east of Croatia.
We do not work below that, nor does the market demand it; it simply does not make sense to come for a shorter period due to the length of the journey. We must admit that the reason for coming is still a brand stronger than the name of Croatia – Dubrovnik, followed by the Plitvice Lakes, food, nature, clear sea, wonderful people – this is what is most often communicated.
What surprised us all these years is that people who have been to Croatia have so many exceptional positive emotions for the country. Croatia is the undiscovered jewel of Europe for American tourists, which is starting to push hard alongside Greece, Italy, France; it is starting to brutally beat the competition,” Weinpert concluded.
A large part of the work has already been done. The promotion has been done, and promotional photo and video materials are available, as well as direct contact with American agents who come to Croatia and experience Croatia firsthand. The most important thing, however, is to be constantly present in the American market.
By opening the Pointers Travel office, he took that big step forward and completed the whole story with strong foundations. That is the first prerequisite for a more serious approach to a market, in this case, the American market.
Finally, if you want to be part of this project and your focus is on the American market, representing a tourist community or a hotel, restaurant, or winery, contact Krunoslav Weinpert from the Pointers Travel agency ([email protected] ) or via the website.
For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.