Exactly five years, ie one day more, have passed since our tourist offer, and especially the one in Zadar, was richer for one great tourist story, and that is the Forum hostel from Zadar.In these five years, it is fair to say that Hostel Forum has refreshed our offer, because throughout all this time it has delighted us and our guests with creative promotions, events, approach, engagement for branding the destination, and also set high standards for all flour and so pushed hostel industry forward. As it is so, it is a confirmation that the Forum hostel was declared the best hostel in Croatia for two years in a row, as well as the most important reviews and guest ratings.The story around the hostel is individual, personalized and in my personal opinion the greatest value of the hostel is that, in addition to a different philosophy of accommodation, they sell authentic stories and experiences to their guests. And that is why the main person in the hostel is the host, ie the “receptionist” who is in direct contact with his guests and who advises them what and where they can experience in the destination.In 1.825 days, over 50.000 guests passed through the Forum hostel, and this relevant sample through internal research confirms exactly what I say all the time – how guests want emotions, experiences and stories. “If we had to put the wishes and preferences of our guests under the same denominator, it would undoubtedly be getting to know and experience the local, indigenous. “Points out Martina Knežević, marketing manager of Turisthotel doo and adds that they very often mediate in the sale of various excursions and other experiences. “On the one hand, Koreans blindly and somewhat “nerdy” follow the instructions of printed guides when consuming local content, while, for example, the English regularly follow the advice and experience of our receptionists, in turn locals. The preferences of the guests thus depend first of all on their profile, and then on the planned time of stay in the destination. We often mediate in the sale of excursions to the Plitvice National Park, this year a little more to the Krka National Park. Interest in the Kornati National Park has declined this year. Given the shorter average stay of each guest both in the city center and in our hostel, it is usually a half-day trip, a short tour of the city (independently), the inevitable sunset and the Sea Organ and an evening out in the city (Koreans for dinner at a restaurant according to the instructions of the guide, the English on beer according to the instructions of the locals). “Knezevic pointed out.Martina Knežević, marketing manager of Tursihotel doo and Nives Kalac, director of the Forum hostelIn this context, the additional efforts of the Hostel that invest in the promotion of the tourist destination should certainly be praised and highlighted. From promoting various events through social networks, and through publishing digital e-book publications in which they promote the experiences of the whole region, both through additional activities and through gastronomy. If you are wondering why they do it at their own expense, the answer is very simple: They are very well aware of the fact that the motive for coming is not accommodation, but quality, diverse and authentic content of the tourist destination. If the guest is satisfied with the destination, they will come back again, and they will come back to them again.In five years, these satisfied guests have made a total of 50.600 arrivals and 86.469 overnight stays through the Forum hostel, and with a very simple calculation, we come to the average day of the guests’ stay, which is 1,7 days. The number is certainly small and worrying, although it refers to the Zadar peninsula, while in Zadar the average is about 3,5 days, but when we add the fact that the peninsula was left without people / locals because they rented their apartments, we come to a big problem because outside the main season the peninsula is dead. And if we want to extend the season we have a big problem. The question is what is the solution?It seems that some uncontrolled and spontaneous “development” is happening to us, points out Nives Kalac, director of the Forum hostel, and adds that the question is whether a solution is being sought at all. “The number of accommodation units is completely inversely proportional to the number of domicile population. Now it is no longer a seasonal move to rent their own apartments but permanent and they are no longer “apartments” but “apartments”. That is why we have an empty city from the moment the flight season ends, ie from the end of October to the beginning of April. But that’s not all, because the demand is simply not so high that it could “swallow” the current number of beds in Zadar, except for the peak season. Therefore, the profitability of these investments, primarily of private persons who have entered the tourism sector, may be called into question. ” says Kalac.It is not enough to have a strategy made and paid for on paper, so everyone has it! But only those who are focused and brave and implement it – Nives Kalac, director of the Forum hostelCertainly, the motive for coming is our authentic story, which we have to pack nicely through various tourist stories about our way of life, customs, gastronomy, etc. problem . As Kalac points out, until a few years ago we longed for good restaurants that we would recommend, because the guests did not have much choice both in the center and in the wider part of the city.. “Now we all” skip “chairs, billboards, push ourselves between tables, souvenir stands and jewelry, get stuck in rows in front of chests for ice cream or bakery products. Simply, somehow everything is too much, and the people of Zadar with some of their original “gyre” are less and less. I believe that the local self-government, ie the City of Zadar with all its services, must bring some frameworks in order to preserve Zadar primarily for ourselves, and then proudly present it to our guests. Unplanned licensing of everything must come to an end. Some European hit destinations are on this trail because they are rapidly losing their identity, which is why they eventually became so desirable. Suffice it to mention Barcelona. It is not enough to have a strategy made and paid for on paper, so everyone has it! But only those who are focused and brave and implement it. ” Kalac pointed out. Strategic and sustainable development of a tourist destination is the only solution for quality and long-term growth, but it seems that the word strategic development has not been in our books at universities for a long time and unfortunately we can not rely on it, except in part in Istria.Tourism has always been and will be one of the first branches to be “hit” by new trends and technologies, and thus changes are faster and greater than ever before, the market is changing rapidly as well as the wishes and needs of guests. I was interested in the current situation and how much things have changed in Zadar since the beginning of the success story of the Forum hostel until today. “We are subject to rapid changes in trends, styles and quality of life, which are then reflected in the way and preferences of travelers / tourists. Among other things, the extraordinary popularization of low-cost airlines has made “classic” airlines more accessible to a huge number of passengers. This, of course, enabled the incredible availability and connection of emitting markets and destinations themselves. It is becoming common to travel several times a year for short periods of time and with as many destinations as possible. Primarily OTAs, online channels for booking accommodation, have adapted to this. This has all led to a large increase in individual guests who in turn arrange the itinerary according to their preferences and desires. We are lucky that Zadar is on that map and that it has a connection with the “world” for at least 7 months. I think the most important thing is to know the profile of the guest you are addressing in your marketing campaigns and for whom you are offering what you are offering. If this is not in discrepancy with what it offers and the destination you are in then success cannot be missed. “Said Kalac.One of the big changes is certainly in the profile of guests visiting Zadar, today Koreans convincingly hold the first place on the scale of arrivals, at least from the perspective of hostels. And this will certainly increase significantly since Zadar was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List this year. ” For the past 3 years, Koreans have convincingly held first place at the Forum Hostel in terms of arrivals and overnight stays. The profile of such a guest is most often a woman in her early twenties who travels alone, has just arrived by bus from Zagreb (she was previously in Ljubljana) and has a travel bag three times heavier than her body. She has a guide in her hand, who directs her to Plitvice, Sea Organ and Karlovac or Ožujska radler beer (depending on the guide), which is often the only alcoholic beverage she will consume in the destination. The itinerary is carefully planned and does not allow deviations, especially when it comes to the date of transport to another destination (usually Split). The Korean, in spite of our efforts, often enters the “necessary dialogue” during the check-in with only three words; reservation, breakfast and wifi password.”Knežević points out, and adds that they still learned a few short Korean phrases and greetings because they are amused by that surprised expression when we address them in their language, and they care about the guests.Precisely one of the important segments of the success of the Forum hostel is the attitude towards guests, as evidenced by various reviews and ratings on booking portals. But, of course, there are always negative comments, both constructive criticism and various subjective, when asked how to communicate and behave in such situations, Martina Knežević points out that she likes to respond to reviews, especially the bad ones. ” In fact, it is much easier to respond to the bad than to the good. The worst mistake in responding to reviews that an “object” can make is to respond exclusively to bad reviews and attack the guest in an attempt to defend. Unfortunately, I often see that. The formula as we respond is essentially very simple; from the whole review we draw something positive, thank you for the compliment (there is always such an element), through the answer we try to highlight the services and the truth knowing that future potential guests will quote the most just bad reviews and answers to them. We accept things we cannot change, we change things we can change immediately. An example of what we cannot change is, for example, the ringing of our “neighbor” bell tower Sv. Stošije. Some guests, although rare, but find themselves, the bell bothers in the morning when it indicates a “full hour”. We certainly attribute this to the local flair and with a slight dose of humor we promise to ask the “neighbor” for a slightly quieter performance. I believe that with a good and smart approach you can turn even the worst criticism to your advantage, of course, only if you are completely behind the service you provide. “Says Knezovic. In these cases, the worst thing you can do is not communicate. It is extremely important to communicate, especially to put out some future “fires” and additional discussions that can create big problems for you.The reactions are mostly great. Ideas for marketing campaigns usually come to us spontaneously, so we realize them – Martina Knežević, marketing manager of Turisthotel dooYoung people are the main focus of the hostel story, and young tourists make up approximately 272 million of the total 1,2 billion international tourist arrivals in the world in 2015. This share of more than 22% indicates the potential of this market to which the hostel offer can best respond, which is why it is important to develop it, again strategically and planned.As I mentioned before, Hostel Forum has proven to be very successful through various promotional campaigns, I was interested in some advice on how people react better to campaigns and how much they have an effect on foreign tourists in the context of sales. Today, it is more important than ever to know the habits and needs of your guests. Through one segment communication is never easier, and yet never harder precisely because of the great noise in communication. “In the context of marketing campaigns aimed at conversions of foreign tourists, we have been advertising on Facebook and Google AdWords for years. Among other things, our target is determined by geolocation, so these are mostly destinations connected by low-budget flights with Zadar. Although we use a certain amount of creativity for the purpose of designing such ads, I must admit that most of the creative projects and campaigns are aimed precisely at locals and domestic tourists. The reactions are mostly great. Ideas for marketing campaigns usually come to us spontaneously, so that’s how we realize them. We nurture the relationship with the people of Zadar because we believe that they are our greatest ambassadors. Accordingly, so far we have supported a large number of projects, festivals, ideas and associations that we believe will contribute to the quality and richness of content in the city, both for local residents and foreign tourists.. “Said Knezevic.By the way, slightly more than 220 hostels are currently open in Croatia, and as the synergy of all stakeholders is extremely important in everything, and especially in tourism, the Association of Hostels at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce was founded last year.When asked which administrative or legal acts slow you down and what needs to be changed in order to facilitate hostel business, Knežević points out the lack of categorization as well as special promotions of the hostel story as the main problems. “As one of the members of the council of the recently established Association of Hostels at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, I must first of all praise the initiative. However, this means that as a profession, despite the smaller and almost insignificant number of total accommodation capacity compared to other accommodation entities, we have finally begun to take the hostel sector seriously. What slows us down the most in acting towards the implementation of some basic goals is certainly the lack of time of colleagues involved in the association. Namely, thanks to the distinct seasonality of the entire destination, the only time we can set aside for these purposes is just a few months in the winter. Of course, this is a rather limited period of time considering the amount of work, ideas and goals. One of the last discussions we held recently in Zagreb was on the topic of organizing the first hostel conference in Croatia, at the national and possibly international level. I hope we succeed in our plan. ” said Knezevic.The idea of jointly promoting hostels with the Croatian Tourist Board at certain tourist fairs under the umbrella name “Croatia full of youth” is also current. “Of course, given that in Croatia (and beyond) there is no categorization of hostels, it would be good, at least for the purpose of promoting all segments individually, to define and determine what belongs to what. Thus, for example, all hostels could be divided into boutique, party, group, heritage, etc. hostels. After such categorization, it would certainly be easier and more efficient to find the right marketing mix for a particular segment. ” said Knežević and concluded that the level of quality of hostel accommodation in Croatia is above average compared to the rest of Europe and we should be proud of that, but that does not mean that we can be passive and wait for “those tourists” to come to us. “Staff of hostel Forum, ZadarHowever, the success story of the Forum hostel is not over, on the contrary, they plan to expand and create new additional values. Namely, the parent company Turisthotel dd last year bought a valuable property, ie the Callegro center with a cinema cinema, shops and a cafe of the same name. Otherwise, the building is directly leaning on the hostel building, and as Nives Kalac, director of the Hostel Hostel, points out, the intention is certainly to keep the catering and accommodation facilities. “This is our core business, so development will certainly go in that direction. A detailed plan has not yet been adopted, as we are currently in the process of preparing a feasibility study and conceptual design. It will definitely be a new concept and a new interesting story in line with trends and at the level of high quality that Zadar deserves. “Kalac concluded.Looking at the successes and development of the Forum hostel so far, I can certainly say that I am happy with their daily development and I am looking forward to new interesting stories and values that will raise the bar a few steps higher again.Until then, learn, communicate, exchange ideas, think out loud, and collaborate. Without the synergy of all stakeholders in a tourist destination, there is no quality or long-term success. And don’t forget, the motive for coming is not accommodation, but a tourist destination.Tell stories, our authentic stories.