Rajko Ruzicka: “Fight” for the Russian tourist will become even harder
The new director of CTB in Moscow, Rajko Ruzicka tells us what kind of influence will the crises in Russia have on Croatian tourist season 2015 and gives useful advice to Croatian hotels.
What are your business experiences in Russia?
My first professional experience in Russia starts in 1997 when i was a young specialist in marketing working on a very interesting project to develop OTC business for Pliva. After that i was a Head of Representation of Belupo in RF in 1999, where I stayed for over 5 years. As a professional it was clear to me that it is almost impossible to live and work in Russia on a high quality level. So i dedicated myself to learning the Russian language on which I still actively work. I took the duty of being director of CTB 10.01.2014 or to be exact, three months ago.
What are your expectations for 2015? In your opinion, will the crisis in Russia affect the arrival of Russian tourists to Croatia?
Due to the highly turbulent 2014 and the unstable economic and political situation in Russia, particularly to the problem of the drop of the ruble, it is expected that the 2015 will be a tough year for Russian citizens.
The weakening of the ruble, bankruptcies of tourist operators, reducing the purchasing power and increase the number of individual tourists who book their trips online are just few of the features of this tourist year.
It is certainly to be expected that some of these trends will continue next year and that the “fight” for Russian tourists will become more difficult than before which will be reflected on the number of tourists from RF, who traditionally come to European destinations. Regardless of the very complex situation in the market, I believe that in 2015., Croatia could still go without a great deal of stress related to the number of Russian tourists. Namely, all Croatian institutions in Russia together intensively working to promote Croatia. Together with the activities of the Croatian Embassy in RF, the CTB and representative of CCE we believe that next year we need to feel a positive shift.
All Russians know about the Croatian sea, but only few know of the rest of the Croatia. Do you plan to advertise other Croatian regions?
Croatia is a small country, but a country of diversity and a country that can offer a little something for everyone’s taste. Our cultural heritage, national parks, wining and dining scene, sport and health tourism, are only part of a very rich Croatian tourist offer. Most of the credit for the development of Croatian tourism certainly deserve our sea and beaches in the summer but our goal is to present and that other, less famous Croatia, and we will work on it intensively. Of course that is something, particularly in a big Russia, can not do overnight, but definitely think that this must be our medium- and long-term goal.
What is the best type of advertising in Russia?
I’ve already talked about the changing business paradigm in tourism sphere and today is very difficult to detect what type of marketing communication that is best. In fact, it is complicated to precisely segment the market and it is therefore impossible to say that one type of advertising is better than another. We will focus on the integrated marketing communication whose goal will be as efficient as possible to convey the necessary information to the targeted market segment. This way we will optimize our costs and maximize the effectiveness of our campaigns.
Do you have any advices to Croatian hotels about how to attract more Russian clients?
First of all, Russian tourists need to know for our hotels and their offer. They need to know the benefits and features of our hotel, which means that hotels must be present on the market. This can be done through appearances at specialized fairs, online advertising, but also through agents who present hotels to professionals. We have to be aware that Russian tourist has a lot of offers when thinking about vacation and it is very important to provide him information from which he can make a decision. A tourist who travels through tourism operators or agencies will ask them for their opinion, and if the agency does not have information about the hotel or there is not enough information about the hotel, it is unlikely that tourists choose this hotel. On the other hand, if the hotels website does not have a Russian translation it is also very likely that the Russians will not choose them. In short, if a hotel wants to work with Russian tourists they must adapt their offer and the way of marketing communications to Russian guest or tourist agency.
Do you have any advices for the Croatian clinics? Does Croatia have its advantages?
Health tourism with Russian guests really could become a very important segment of Croatian tourism, if you consider quality and professionalism of the Croatian health services. I would recommend our health institutions which are interested in the Russian market to adjust their offers and ways of communicating to a targeted market segment.
In this case we need to talk about doctors who send or may send their patients to treatment or therapy beyond the borders of the RF. With the diversity and quality of service that our health institutions can offer together with short flights and relatively easy obtaining visas, Croatia as a Slavic country, whose language and culture are close to the Russians, certainly can be potentially very interesting destination for this type of tourism.
What are the biggest mistakes that Croatians make when trying to attract the Russians?
I wouldn’t call it mistakes, when talking about Croatian attempts to attract Russian tourists, but perhaps the disorientation or the strategic guidelines. In fact, Russia is a huge country and has a wide range of people on different market segments, from family people, young professionals, ultra-rich, and so on. It is important to know which of them we want to see in Croatia and to adapt our offers to them.