Find out how the quality of the destination is directly raised. An example that other tourist boards should follow

Author  Goran Rihelj

23. September 2022.

The main task of the Tourist Boards is the branding and promotion of the destination, and in my opinion, above all, the strategic development of the destination.

We can see an excellent example of strategic development in Požega-Slavonia County. An example that should serve as a guide for all tourist associations in Croatia. So let's start in order...

The quality of service and offer in the destination in catering facilities is extremely important. The most banal example can be seen through the quality of coffee in coffee bars. As we know, although we are a country that has a strong coffee drinking culture, we as consumers know very little about the quality of coffee, and getting the same quality of coffee in a cafe day after day or having consistency in quality is extremely rare.

The story of coffee, as well as of wines, is broad and complex, each "science" is on its own, and the quality of coffee is influenced by many factors. There are many reasons why the quality of coffee is relatively poor in coffee bars all over Croatia, but the most important thing is education. Education that very few waiters have received, while the education system does not put baristas on the market. Except for those who voluntarily educated themselves at their own expense. 

If we want to attract quality guests, raise tourist consumption, our destination must be at that level. From quality content, offer and preparation of food in restaurants, to the offer of wine and quality coffee in selected restaurants and coffee bars. For that we need quality (value for money) partners, as well as educated waiters, i.e. baristas and sommeliers. 

So, the question is how to directly influence the quality of performance in the destination? Especially if we are on the continent, where we have much less human and financial resources as well as tourists, than on the Adriatic. The answer is simple - you organize education in selected catering establishments! And so the entire destination grows and develops. 

And that's exactly where the Tourist Board of Požega-Slavonia County steps in in a simple and logical way. This is the mission and task of tourist boards - to influence the strategic development and increase the quality of the destination.

This year, the Tourist Board of Požega-Slavonska County focused on the promotion and development of wine and gastronomic offers and services. Thus, a workshop on the topic was recently held in the Grgin dol restaurant Introduction to coffee and the profession of a barista as part of the "Golden Slavonia Eno & Gastro" project organized by the Požega-Slavonia County Tourist Board.

The workshop is intended for the owners and staff of catering establishments/restaurants in order to complete and raise the restaurant experience to a higher level and to get ideas about pairing coffee with dessert. Dessert opens a lot of new topics. First, consumption is raised, as well as earnings, and secondly, the dessert is made on local ground, i.e. some new OPG or company, with locally produced food. By selling desserts, tourist consumption is reduced to more local partners. Of course, as we can be proud of our diversity and authenticity, one dessert will always be linked to the local authentic culture and story. And so the story just expands and continues. 


Domagoj Trusić / Photo TZ PSŽ

Let's go back to coffee workshops. Coffee specialist Domagoj Trusić he gave an introductory lecture on professional work with coffee, practically demonstrated the protocol and anatomy of espresso, and held a short demonstration exercise for the participants, where everyone could apply the knowledge they had learned.

"The most important thing when it comes to preparing coffee is that the person preparing the coffee experiences it as a ritual, but also the person drinking the coffee to experience drinking the coffee as a ritual. The more seriously we approach coffee procurement, quality, preparation and brewing techniques, the better that product will be in the cup, and the more we will enjoy it." points out Domagoj Trustić. 

But it's not just a one-card story, it's about the "Golden Slavonija Eno & Gastro" project, which connects several educations intended for owners and staff of catering facilities/restaurants, all with the aim of raising the quality of the entire destination. 

Thus, a workshop on the topic was held at the beginning of September Domestic strong alcoholic drinks and liqueurs, held by a famous Croatian sommelier Darko Lugaric. Through the theoretical and practical part, the participants were presented with: raw materials for alcohol production, basics about distillation, fermentation, proper selection of glasses for distillates and liqueurs, and tasting of twelve distillates and liqueurs.

"The workshop is intended for restaurateurs, manufacturers and catering workers to learn how to bring their products closer to the end consumer and know how to present them to the end consumer. Manufacturers sometimes think that their products are available to everyone and that they should not be emphasized, but what is high-quality and local should be especially emphasized, what they learned at the workshop", said lecturer and sommelier Darko Lugarić.

Strategic approach to education and workshops 

Otherwise, it is a much broader project,"Golden Slavonija Eno & Gastro" organized by the TZ Požega-Slavonska County, which covered various excellent thematic excellent workshops.

The year started with the workshop "Traditional Slavonian wedding menu in a modern way" chef Damir Sertić, continued with the exhibition of photos from the workshop and individual business consulting for restaurateurs.

What does the traditional Slavonian wedding menu look like through fine dining according to the idea of ​​chef Damir Sertić? 

9 exhibit from the Sarma exhibition

Let's respect ourselves, our recipes, culture and way of life, because that is our greatest tourist value. However, this does not mean that through gastronomy we cannot use a modern approach to cooking and interpretation in order to give the same dishes a "new" life. In fact, this is exactly what top chefs have been doing for years, and the mantra is a return to autochthonous dishes, quality food from organic and domestic production, but interpreted in a modern way. 

That's exactly what chef Damir Sertić did. He interpreted the traditional Slavonian wedding menu through a fine dining concept. And the most important thing, the food remained more or less the same. 

Wedding soup (meat and vegetable soup, leber dumplings, micro Basque greens, parsley emulsion), cooked meat (boiled beef and chicken, chives, carrot sponge, horseradish mousse from N2O nitrogen, tomato sauce spherification, pea microgreens), Slavonian roast (roasted breast milk on a spit, pureed cream of Slavonian pear, garlic and fennel, pea greens), Sarma (sauerkraut, minced meat, rice, edible pansies, sarmina soup foam) and poppy field (poppy seed cake without dough, dehydrated strawberries and raspberries, white chocolate dressing, lemon foam).

You can find out more about the modern interpretation of the Slavonian wedding menu in the article: Traditional Slavonian wedding menu through fine dining? Yes of course!

Gastronomic and wine workshops were held in April. The educational workshop was held in the Kutjevo Castle, and was intended for managers, chefs and waiters from eight catering establishments in the county that are holders of the Tastes of Golden Slavonia standard.

Chefs together with the top by Branko Ognjenović they prepared and presented dishes from local seasonal ingredients of the OPG from the area of ​​the county, which have products on the market 365 days, with an emphasis on connecting each dish with a suitable wine from the Kutjevo Winery, with the aim that restaurateurs see what can be made and how they can use local food include in your offer.

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Chef Branko Ognjenović i sommelier Darko Lugarić they also had business Advisory in seven catering establishments, where they had the owner/chefs/waiters to record the situation, that is, detect aggravating circumstances regarding the cooking, wine offer and/or business organization of the individual establishment.

Wine workshops were also held at the end of April. Four-hour education under the guidance of a sommelier Darko Lugarić she presented the topics of production and serving of different types of wine and table culture, as well as an organoleptic analysis of seven styles of wine from the region (sparkling from the base wine Graševina, young premium dry Graševina, premium semi-dry chardonnay, rosé, cabernet sauvignon, black aged cuvée, and predicate ice wine harvest of graševina). 

All workshops were attended by managers/owners, chefs and waiters from catering establishments that bear the Tastes of Golden Slavonia standard (eight establishments), and wine workshops were additionally attended by representatives of wine tasting rooms and wineries.

"From the field, we received positive reactions and expressions of satisfaction that we organized a series of trainings where the participants received concrete advice and examples of how and what they can improve and/or change, tried themselves in the practical parts of the trainings, and completed their knowledge and gained new experience. After a series of workshops, educations and consultations, we expect to apply what we have seen and learned to the menus and the overall wine and gastronomic offer of catering establishments." points out the director of the Požega-Slavonia County Tourist Board Maja Jakobović.

By the end of September and the beginning of October, there will be education on the topic of events, as well as the continuation of business consulting in hospitality establishments that bear the Tastes of Golden Slavonia standard, and as Jakobović states, the plan is to continue holding workshops/educations in the next year as well.

An extremely important factor is that the workshop and the upgrading of education continue, and not that the entire project is a one-off. This is also the meaning of strategic development, to have continuity. 

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"One of the biggest challenges is the creation and branding of a recognizable destination that is perceived by guests in the way and with the highest quality products that the destination offers. Connecting the destination's offer, i.e. all stakeholders, from accommodation facilities, food and beverage providers, trade offers, travel agencies and of the entire tourist infrastructure so that they meet the demands of an increasingly demanding tourist market is a necessity. In order to achieve this, this year we are conducting a series of educational workshops for entrepreneurs on the topic of gastronomy and oenology in order to acquire knowledge and skills in the range of product design, continuous assurance of its quality, successful market placement, all with the aim of raising the overall service of catering facilities and improving the wine and gastronomic presentation"  expires Maja Jakobović, director of the TZ of Požega-Slavonia County.

I don't remember that any tourist board has ever done such a complete, comprehensive and connected workshop and education, which directly affects the quality of the destination. Here, as we can see, we are not talking about a one-time education, but about connected workshops that all have their own sequence and meaning. As well as a clear goal - raising the quality of performance or quality. 

This is precisely the purpose of the tourist board; to encourage, educate, develop and then package all this well into tourist products and experiences, and promote and brand it. But the most important are the foundations, good quality foundations that are created precisely on the mentioned example. 

If we want to raise the quality of the destination and deal strategically with the development of tourism, this is the only right way. 

Photo: Požega-Slavonia County Tourist Board

Author  Goran Rihelj

23. September 2022.