Volunteers Split the work in Croatia…

Every year, TUI employees have the opportunity to apply for ‘Project Discovery’, a volunteering scheme exclusive to TUI, whereby Travel Foundation matches employee skills to those needed on overseas projects. This week, we hear from Claire and Pat, who spent two week’s volunteering on the coast in Croatia. Tasked with surveying customers and independent visitors to learn more about the economic impact of the hotels on the area, there was no time to lose and they hit the ground running…

Croatia volunteers“Firstly it’s probably a good idea to introduce ourselves. We are Claire and Pat and together we are the team sent to Croatia on behalf of the Travel Foundation to carry out a survey into the spending habits of tourists staying on the Makarska Riviera. We arrived in Split within ten minutes of each other from Gatwick and Manchester airports and, together with approximately 350 guests, we headed 2 hours south to two newly refurbished hotels on the beautiful Dalmatian coastline.

The aim of our volunteering experience is to determine the economic impact on the local community after the re-launch of both hotels with a different customer base and board offering, through customer surveys. After a significant time being used by Polish, Czech and Serbian customers, the hotels are now marketed to Western European clients, with guests coming from British, Nordic and German markets.

Our first evening saw us introduced to most of the hotel management team and gave us the opportunity to ask questions about the resort and how well the recent changes had been received locally. Day 2 saw us exploring the local area and starting our surveys…

Every day we surveyed customers (mostly British, some language barriers with other guests – but we soldiered on!). Every evening, division of labour saw Pat making notes and blogging our time away, and Claire entering the data into Survey Monkey. Half way through the trip we were on target with 107 surveys out of 200 completed. Claire is a survey machine and keeping us well on course!

Of course our work has focussed on collecting the necessary survey data, but centre stage and playing the leading roles in our time overseas were the many people we met living and working locally who gave us a huge insight to the history of Croatia, and the changing tourism landscape we are seeing today. On our day off we headed to Dubrovnik, and had a great day touring the city. We headed back to the much quieter coast, two hours north, after four hours – the August heat beat us!

Throughout our time surveying, one message from customers came over loud and clear. When asked if they’ll return, more often than not we were met with the response, ” we’ll only return if the charm of the area remains intact”. Customers want to visit Croatia. Yes, they want a quality hotel to stay in, but what is attracting them and making their holiday special is Croatia – the food, the scenery, the people.  No “Golden Arch”, or “Fish and Chips”, no “Brathaus”, or “Southern Fried Chicken” outlet. We guess that the sanguine, pragmatic Croatians will know what is best for them and their futures. Pat hopes so too – he’s already planning to return to the area next year on holiday!”

For more about our work in Croatia, click here.