December 9, 2017
Big Berry is newish company with a small landscape resort on the Slovenian-Croatian border, by the River Kolpa in Bela krajina. Here visitors don’t sleep outside, in tents, but in cabins that sleep two to six, made by the project’s founder, Hosekra. They also dine on more than crackers and cheese, with most of the foods served at the site sourced locally, and if visitors want to explore then there are several partner restaurants where they can learn about the history of the food served, and also hear from the owners whose families have been running these businesses for generations.
But this working resort is only one facet of the BB plan, another being starting a franchise of similar sites, with the same cabins. Since Big Berry’s very successful social media campaign has already brought a lot of coverage of the resort aspect of its business, we asked the company some questions about their business plan instead, and they were kind enough to respond.
The business model seems to be half a glamping resort, and half a franchise plan, where you’ll sell the cabins to others. Is that correct?
Exactly. Big Berry (BB) brand’s vision is to spread its roots in various locations all over the world. There are three different colours for BB houses with three different meanings. This concept gives high value to the nature, so it needs to conform to it. That’s why it was divided into three, according to the exterior design.
Blue Berry symbolizes the colour of the sea, the light summer sky and the breeze. It’s perfect for coastal areas and the seaside. Brown Berry is for continental areas, mountains and lakes. The different shades of the colour “brown” were picked from the skin of the birch tree, which is the most common tree in Bela Krajina - the birthplace of BB. The brown colour of the house is perfectly associated with natural environment. Orange Berry houses are suitable for urban areas and rooftops. They are bright and can be seen from long distance.
Each of the concepts has a different growth and development strategy, according to the specific needs of the market where they are represented. What connects our three concepts and makes BB unique is the endeavour to integrate into the local, authentic environment. BB is strongly connected to its surroundings, and the main mission is to promote the destination it is located in by cooperating with local producers and service providers. We aim to deliver a unique experience, not just for the guest, but for the local community as well.
Taking in consideration our sustainable approach in respect with nature and local communities, it is rather difficult to put us in one category, even within hospitality.
Guests won't be roughing it
How involved are Hosekra in this project, or do they only supply the cabins?
The BB project was initiated by Hosekra Group, a company located in Slovenia. They had the idea to integrate luxury houses into genuine and authentic surroundings. After finding perfect location, a meadow with magnificent, colourful berries they decided to name the project “Big Berry.”
The principal activities of the group include the development of advanced materials, innovative manufacturing processes, the installation of roof coverings and prefabricated constructions such as garages and mobile homes. In the development of new products, the company achieve high standards of energy efficiency and use environmentally friendly materials. Their products are characterized by safety, durability and an excellent and well-thought out design that allows quick and easy installation. There are six main group of products: Roof, floor, garage, mobile homes, noise barriers and now BB.
No washing under a cold tap
What are you plans outside of Slovenia?
Currently BB is finalizing negotiation with more than 10 new franchise destinations. Interested buyers come from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Romania and Spain. It is our goal to spread the word of BB all around the world to various destinations that will show our full potential, not just in the hospitality industry, but as an important link of destination management.
What role does social media play in your business plan?
The tourists of today are using the Internet as their main source of information while planning their next vacation so naturally, it is very important to be visible online and to provide the information needed. The second, and very important travel planning source of information is a recommendation from a friend, family member, colleague or a stranger found online. Social media enables former guests to share their opinion about destinations and provides future guests with insights and “real” experience feedback, not just promotional material they would normally find online. We are active on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr and, of course, our webpage. Through social media we are promoting our brand and connecting with partners, sponsors and other influencers. Social media enables us keep contact with our future and former guests in a non-formal way, helping us to deliver the atmosphere of BB team - a friendly, fresh, dynamic and young group of creative and driven individuals.
There are a lot of spin-off products and partners on your website. How do these fit in to your brand and what you offer customers?
BB follows its own partnership concept. We are connecting producers from Bela Krajina and, at the same time, giving them a chance to present their products and services within and through the resort. In this way, we are also providing the guests with a unique experience of authenticity. BB focuses on close relations with other companies and by cooperating with them, boosting the local economy. Tourists are thus getting an authentic Slovenian experience, a chance to visit unknown and unspoiled places and spend a vacation in natural and friendly environment.
They can attend a wine or craft beer tasting, there is an option for rafting on the Kolpa River, sightseeing of cultural attractions, various workshops and handcraft courses. Guests can enjoy locally made delicacies such as chocolate pralines, honey, liquors, jams, hemp oils and many others. By connecting with partners, BB offers a quality service and an authentic experience- something that is often lost in bigger places.
What has 2017 meant for your business?
Unlike 2016, when the main focus of the company was on brand development and marketing strategies, 2017 was the first year of BB’s commercial activity and we like to consider it as the actual opening year. The emphasis was placed on the guest and the development of a unique tourism product. We have created our services for individuals, smaller groups and organized events; ready to be presented on the tourism market and be visible on booking sites.
Although we did not expect a lot of visitors, the guests recognized our unique offer and season exceeded our expectations. Their positive feedback encouraged us to develop our services even further so there’ll be a lot of surprises for 2018.
The main goal is to be a trendsetter in other locations as well, providing unique and authentic hospitality experiences and to support the local communities while doing so. With the successfully implemented development strategy and increased interest in Bela krajina, BB is ready to spread its message and hospitality model to other destinations. Of course, all of our existing projects are always subject to improvement and many new ideas emerge along the way which will raise the bar to a new level.
You can learn more about Big Berry from their website or social media, and there are plenty of reviews online, in text, photo and video, if you want to see what people have to say about their cabins and resorts.