Thursday, 21 April 2022

Destination Dubrovnik: Dean Kuchel, Digital Nomad, on the Power of Yes

April 21, 2022 - With less than two weeks to go until the Work.Place.Culture conference kicks off in Dubrovnik, TCN continues to present the elite lineup of speakers who, through their experiences and wisdom, will put the Pearl of the Adriatic on the digital nomad world map. Up next, a house favorite: Dean Kuchel on the power of yes and connecting your way around the world.

In the midst of a pandemic that to this day still has no end, cities like Dubrovnik stepped forward to change the way they positioned themselves in the tourism industry. There had to be something beyond the flights, the cruise ships, and the hundreds of thousands of tourists walking its ancient streets, and that is when Dubrovnik, in an exemplary union between the city administration and its tourism board, turned its attention to a group that in recent years has been revolutionizing the concept of remote work in Croatia: digital nomads.

Back in July 2020, the city and tourist board of Dubrovnik agreed to a proposal from Saltwater Nomads and Total Croatia News to put it on the map for digital nomads. Following Croatia’s first Digital Nomads conference in October 2020, the city was presented with a program for 2021 that would help attract digital nomads to visit, and stay, in the city. Tanja Polegubic, the founder of Saltwater, proposed a unique event - a digital nomad in residence program. A competition to select 10 nomads from around the world, who would then live in Dubrovnik for a month and collaborate on a plan to make the city more attractive to the digital nomad community. The program was promoted through Total Croatia News and drew global interest. The event came to life in April 2021 with the digital nomads in residence arriving in the city. Over four weeks, the Saltwater program team facilitated a series of workshops involving the visiting nomads, the city, the tourist board, and the local community.


This year, and to continue to show that Dubrovnik is on the way to being a hotspot for digital nomads, Saltwater Nomads, the City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, the Digital Nomads Association Croatia (DNA Croatia), the Croatian National Tourist Board and Total Croatia News will hold the first Work.Place.Culture. conference from May 5 to 7 in Dubrovnik. Work.Place.Culture is the conference which brings work from anywhere to absolutely everywhere. Join remote professionals and destinations from around the world as they inspire a global workforce that has greater location flexibility than ever before, and the destinations which are reinventing to support them through policy, infrastructure, and community.

Most definitely, the soul of the conference (together with the magical city of Dubrovnik) will be its spectacular lineup of top speakers from the ever-evolving world of remote work. In recent weeks, TCN has shared a bit more about them, and this time it's Dean Kuchel's turn, a man who needs no introduction if you're talking about Croatia and digital nomads in the same sentence. Think of a country, and surely Dean has visited it. But the most important thing, beyond his surprising record of known countries, is his will and energy to promote the culture of remote work and the development of communities among digital nomads in each of those countries. Dean's first contact with Croatia as a destination for digital nomads was at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week last year in June, where he drew everyone's attention with his life motto: ''Say yes, go explore!''. Later, he became Zagreb's digital nomad ambassador in September, and in the following months, he found time in his busy travel schedule to reconnect with Croatia, visiting Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Today, Dean shares with us his expectations ahead of the Work.Place.Culture conference.

Dean Kuchel and the Croatian digital nomad story seem to be intertwined. Great to see you coming back to conferences in both Dubrovnik and Zagreb in May and June. How long will you stay this time?

Between May and June, I plan to stay around a month in Croatia, I’m on a little bit of a tight schedule this summer trying to visit many friends and my family in order to celebrate my 40th birthday in June.

As a global traveler with a keen interest in Croatia, explain how the scene in Croatia has progressed since you spoke at Zagreb Digital Nomad Week less than a year ago.

I’ve always been super excited about everything that happened in the past 12 months, whether is the activities by the government, the tourism boards, and the private sector with examples such as Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, Digital Nomad Valley, and the Digital Nomad Association… so many things happening in the country. And in the past year, it just leaped forward to really position Croatia as one of the leading destinations for nomads and I think it works.


We see Nomad Base planning to have its next event in Croatia, bringing 300 or 400 digital nomads. More and more friends and people in my network are starting to talk about Croatia as one of their destinations this year and next year, so definitely I can see the results. Croatia seems to be very structured now, so if a digital nomad chooses to go to Croatia, there are enough resources for them to find all the information, all the activities, and everything that happens there, and that’s beautiful. And you can also throw Cromads into the mix here!

You are a man who could build a community on the moon. How do you see the nomad community developing in Croatia?

The community in Croatia definitely evolved, I see a big step forward in the last year. I recently traveled to Zadar’s Digital Nomad Valley where I met a lot of groups of connected people, and this connection and community is what makes people stay much longer in Croatia, and it’s what makes many other people around the world consider Croatia as a destination.

With this being said, I think there’s still a lot of work to do in order to connect different communities within Croatia into one, single, unified community. From my side, my take on communities is that we need a single community that connects everyone rather than spread them and break them into smaller groups. I think this is where Croatia can improve a little bit and I wanna see more collaboration when it comes to communities, and between the different cities and regions in the country.

A few words about Dubrovnik, which is perhaps not the most obvious nomad destination, but it has worked hard to change that perception. Your thoughts?

It’s an interesting question because, if you asked me three months ago about Dubrovnik I would tell you, ‘‘yes, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it’s the perfect backdrop to host such an event’’, but for me, it was more of a place to come, visit, see the Old City, and move on. But then, three months ago, I spent a little over a week in Dubrovnik and I was able to discover a city that is really an amazing destination for nomads. It obviously offers all the beauties of an old city, the access to the ocean, the great weather almost all year long, and then I found that there are bars and cafes, and plenty of restaurants. I met with other nomads that spent time there and expats that have been staying in Dubrovnik for a long time.


I think it is up and coming, and definitely hosting and holding this event in Dubrovnik would help to spread the word out that it’s not just a place for the touristic comfort, but also for nomads to come and spend the whole season.

You will be speaking at the Work. Place. Culture. conference in Dubrovnik in May. What is your topic, and what are you looking to get out of the conference?

I’m very excited about the Work. Place. Culture Conference in Dubrovnik! I’m happy to be back in Dubrovnik for the second time within five months, and I’m also excited since I’m taking a more active role this year, as a contribution to supporting Croatia’s effort to become a top digital nomad destination.

In regards to my talk and the topic, if you want to know what I’ll talk about, you should attend and you can do so onsite or online. Join us at the event, and I can just give away that the words ‘‘digital nomad lifestyle’’, ‘‘world travel’’, and ‘‘community-building’’ will be touring in the air.

I’m definitely looking forward to expanding my network, connecting with locals, connecting with digital nomads, and I really hope to inspire the local community and local businesses to see the benefit and the good that the digital nomads, both the people and the lifestyle, can bring to the country and help flourish in all different areas: business, tourism, or economy-wise. It’s something that is important for me and I hope to bring it with me to this conference.

Next steps for Croatia?

In one word: synergy. There’s a lot of beautiful effort being put by cities and regions, tourism boards, the different private ventures, and I would like to see a single ecosystem that connects all these efforts and companies altogether, that focuses on these efforts and reaches the goal of making Croatia a top destination for digital nomads. I think Croatia can really benefit from more collaboration between the different ventures, and this is where I think Croatia should head next.

And, as always with your crazy lifestyle, what is next for Dean Kuchel?

Right after the conference, I will head to the Nomad Base - Croatia meetup, and from there I’ll head to Tel Aviv, Israel, to spend some time with my family and friends to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’ll then attend and speak at the Bansko Nomad Fest in Bulgaria, and at some point, during the summer I’ll head back to Bali, Indonesia, where I have grown a few roots and building a house. A big, big change for the frequent traveler that I am.

You can learn more about and connect with Dean through his official website, Facebook, and Instagram.

You can buy your tickets for the conference in Dubrovnik through this link, and you can download the full programme of the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik here.

Work. Place. Culture. is a collaboration between the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN, with support from the Digital Nomad Association Croatia and Dubrovacka Bastina. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week is a partnership between Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads, and TCN. 

To learn more about magnificent Dubrovnik, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik in a Page guide, in partnership with Sun Gardens Dubrovnik.  

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Say I Do in Dubrovnik: Adriatic Pearl to be Branded as Wedding Destination

November 29, 2020 - Because who doesn't want to say I do in Dubrovnik? A look at why the Adriatic Pearl is an ideal wedding destination.

HRTurizam reports that within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the Dubrovnik County Chamber, a professional group of wedding organizers has been established, which will bring together agencies that organize weddings from the wider Dubrovnik area. The idea is to gather the organizers themselves, but also related activities, into one marketing story to brand Dubrovnik as an ideal destination for weddings.

"This is an industry that entails a lot of other activities, such as suppliers of various equipment, catering, musicians, florists. From a marketing perspective, this is a unique opportunity to position Dubrovnik among different groups of people as a destination for weddings, but also in general. Weddings by their nature bring together a heterogeneous group of people, of different ages and interests in one place, and the arrival of such a group creates a unique opportunity to present the city and its offer if they decide to return in a private arrangement," said the president of the Professional Group Ines Nanić from the company Dubrovnik events.

The newly established Expert Group emphasizes that weddings in destinations have a multiplier effect on the entire economy. An average of 70 to 150 participants travel to a destination for a couple of newlyweds.

"Their promotion of the destination through pictures and posts on social networks is something that can hardly be achieved through commercial campaigns. Therefore, this story has an extremely large impact on all segments in the provision of tourist services within a destination and is an excellent platform for building the image of the destination," said the Expert Group.

Nanić also reminds us that in these challenging times, the competition is certainly not asleep, preparing its marketing plans and strategies for appearing on the markets, so we must be ready.

“Let’s not forget how big the wedding industry is and how many micro-entrepreneurs have been affected by its drastic decline this year. Hundreds of service providers in our country have lost their jobs. Our mission is to work together with marketing activities to revive our industry in the form of promotion that can only bring us positive results. At a time when everyone is quiet, it is up to us to do our best to make a good word heard about the services and beauties and values ​​that our city offers," concludes Nanić.

To speed up the recovery, joint marketing activities will promote the destination, but also those segments of the offer, i.e., the business sector that is involved in the wedding as a final product. They hope to present to the newlyweds what their story might look like if they say "DA u DU" (“YES in DU”). Since the English version of this slogan is hardly applicable, it may be that the Professional Group is targeting domestic guests and newlyweds from Croatia. The Expert Group invites all interested parties to get involved in the work of the group and present their ideas on how to improve this story and help in the campaign of positioning Dubrovnik as an ideal place for the most important day for the future newlyweds.

Weddings are a well-known tourist product that has been intensively developed by Istria since 2014, with the desire to get guests from the Western European market for weddings, as well as newlyweds from overseas countries. The Istria - wedding destination project has encouraged numerous initiatives aimed at positioning Istria in this domain and has resulted in the creation of a specialized website to further improve and develop this tourist product. Two months ago, Istria also announced that some new cooperation and product development measures had been agreed upon. In Istria, one of the first realized projects was the production of photographs and videos advertising the destination on various platforms. In addition to aerial shots, two stylized shots were organized - in the Brijuni National Park and the Village & Hotel San Canzian. According to the American lifestyle online magazine, San Canzian is listed among the TOP 8 world locations where guests can travel virtually in search of their honeymoon.

The Istrian Tourist Board also believes that the development of wedding products can significantly mitigate the seasonality of tourism, strengthen pre-and post-season and consequently increase local community revenues in the off-season while promoting less developed tourist areas and small businesses.

Given the popularity of Dubrovnik in the world, it should not be difficult to sell the idea and story of a romantic wedding in the city where Game of Thrones was filmed. 

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.