Basic Event Information:
Zagreb Digital Nomad Week and Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project
Date: 21-27 June 2021 (July – December 2021)
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Organiser: Saltwater Nomads (Media partner Total Croatia News)
Client: Zagreb Tourist Board
EVENT CATEGORY: CROSSOVER
EVENT FORMAT: HYBRID
Event description and key objectives
7 days. 7 themes. Plus a 6 month global ambassador project. Zagreb held a groundbreaking event for digital nomads in June 2021, only 6 months after devastating earthquakes in 2020.
The entire city was the venue.
For one special week in June, the capital city drew in remote professionals in person, and reached a global online audience of over 70,000, to cover emerging themes in remote work and highlight lifestyle and experiences in the city.
Zagreb Digital Nomad Week ran from 21 to 27 June 2021, in person and online for a series of 7 themes over 7 days, covering: cyber security, online presence, remote careers, tax & finance, future of work, wellbeing and exploring Zagreb.
There were over 26 speakers, streaming live from Bali to Barcelona, Manly Beach in Sydney, to a coworking space on Zagreb’s British Square, struck by one of the earthquakes.
Zagreb is rebuilding its vibrant image, after a series of earthquakes in 2020. As businesses reopen, attracting Remote Professionals to the Croatian capital has become a focus for the Zagreb Tourist Board (ZTB) as Croatia was among the first countries in the world to offer a ‘digital nomad permit’.
During ‘Zagreb Digital Nomad Week’, the first of 6 monthly ‘Digital Nomad Ambassadors’, was announced – selected from applicants from around the world. These events are part of a multi-year strategy to raise awareness about Zagreb as a destination and ultimately build a community of remote professionals.
Several areas stand out as the challenges for the event.
* HYBRID EVENT IN MULTIPLE VENUES
* NEW AUDIENCE
* STAKEHOLDER AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
1. HYBRID EVENT IN MULTIPLE VENUES
This event was delivered as a hybrid – online and in person. Further, it was across multiple venues, with daily livestreaming.
2. NEW AUDIENCE
As this was the first time this event had been held, many of the attendees were not familiar with the event nor the city.
Due to current epidemiological measures, the number of attendees at any one venue was restricted. This was managed and the focus on the online delivery to ensure all sessions could be viewed and the safety of all physical attendees always a priority.
4. EARTHQUAKE IMPACT
The damage from the earthquakes in the capital and nearby towns in 2020 has impacted many businesses, lives and employment. The challenge here was to support all those impacted – through bringing extra business, and a boost to morale.
5. STAKEHOLDER AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
Digital nomads are a new concept for many local residents. Many businesses who were contacted required education on this target audience and required improvements to services will take some time. For others, there were established providers and early adopters who embraced and truly welcome and understand this audience.
Creativity, Community, Movement, Long Stay tourism are at the heart of this event.
The concept was devised to showcase the entire city – and make use of cafes, bars, coworking spaces and restaurants – taking a distributed, or ‘nomadic’ conference approach by moving from venue to venue.
For Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, the entire city was the venue. Everywhere from parks to coworking spaces, gyms and bars were used. And one week was seen as just the start of this story as Zagreb Tourist Board embarks on sharing their city with a new audience which grew overnight: remote professionals.
The 1 week event was intentionally distributed, or, ‘nomadic’ – with the weekdays based on breakfast, brown bag lunch and happy hour sessions across cafes, coworking spaces and hotel lobbies. This was intentionally designed to bring a dynamic feel to the event, and show as much of the city as possible.
Friday was a full-day conference with over 20 speakers, covering The Future of Work. The sessions were held as keynotes, panel and interactive sessions.
By bringing in a 6 month project, with 1 month periods, brings longevity to this project – and brings in further diverse experiences as a diverse group of winners are selected to serve as ambassadors and tell the story of the city in their own way, each month.
The Hopin platform was a key tool to deliver a means of engaging with chat, speed mentoring and Ask Me Anything Q&A sessions.
Big names – from Bali to Barcelona, Banks, Business Writers and Government Officials.
Zagreb Digital Nomad Week brought the Future of Work to the Croatian capital. We hosted thought leaders from global communities, industry trend and tourism experts and governments. Seasoned digital nomads also joined us in person and virtually. We invited speakers to bring global insights into three areas of the future of work: the evolving workplace, the rise of remote work and the importance of community building, especially as it relates to Zagreb.
The Digital Nomad Association Croatia also invited its network, among them its major corporate supporters, Raiffeisen Bank, Hrvatski Telekom and global consultancy KPMG. Croatia’s digital nomad permit has placed Croatia firmly on the map for many seasoned and new remote workers. It enables millions, who have previously been limited by long office commutes and only 2 weeks vacation, to now base in a new place – and explore new career and lifestyle opportunities.
An event company, media company, Tourist Board… and a CEO’s dog.
This event was delivered in partnership with Total Croatia News, the Zagreb Tourist Board and managed by Saltwater Nomads. There were multiple venues and a global audience.
Interactive and Livestreamed
The program was hosted using the interactive Hopin hybrid event platform and simultaneously livestreamed via Streamyard across Hopin, YouTube and Facebook. As the target audience is digital nomads and remote workers – the venues were spread out across the week, to cater to a variety of personal and professional preferences as it is a very diverse audience.
The client, Zagreb Tourist Board, has been publishing to the partner media company, Total Croatia News and this event brings on a new stakeholder with the event lead, Saltwater. The program is now progressing positively, with a very collaborative approach and co-creation as part of the ongoing 6 month ambassador program.
The one week event set the foundations for the 6 month project, with support from all bars, restaurants, hotels and coworking spaces now engaged and hosting the incoming AMbassadors (and in many cases, their partners) for their month in Zagreb. This community of local and visiting remote professionals demonstrates the longterm goals are being met – to build a community and maintain strong relations between the client and service providers connected to this event.
With a spend of under 2,000 EUR per month for 7 months, the reach of the event and 6-month project is substantial. This equates to approximately 100,000 HRK and access to over 100,000 people.
The online event was promoted among the largest LinkedIn community for remote professionals, as the community manager attended in person as a keynote speaker to cover The Rise of Remote Work. Close to 70,000 members are part of this community, with the second keynote speaker leader of a digital nomad community of over 20,000 people.
The online sessions had over 500 registrations, with over 10,000 views online across the live-streamed videos and their replays, collectively. This is on the Hopin, YouTube and Facebook platform.
The event page has received a page click increase of 693% on standard days.
Arte TV (European Culture Channel for over 30 years) interviewed the event organiser Tanja Polegubic and Veronica Mulhall, the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, in Zagreb for July. These interviews were broadcast on 11 July 2021, in a segment entitled “Croatia: Cradle of Tech Innovation”.
More than 10 major media portals for news, tourism, meetings and events sector covered the event through articles.
The goal was to raise awareness for Zagreb as a destination of choice for Digital Nomads, especially with Croatia’s new digital nomad permit, which enables third-country nationals to stay in Croatia for up to 1 year. Further, the permit and events like this reach any remote professional, whether they are EU based (and thus do not require the permit), looking to stay for an average of 1 month and now know Croatia is a place to combine business and tourism, as the entire world embraces working remotely.
This event has raised awareness through the largest English language news portal in Croatia, Total Croatia News, with a dedicated section on Digital Nomads.
The event has also been circulated online – website and social media, including the channels for Zagreb Tourist Board, Saltwater Nomads and Total Croatia News. Multiple online forums specific to expats and digital nomads also have shared content, as selected speakers have large followings among their audiences.
The event reach is further communicated each month to the personal and professional channels of the selected digital nomad ambassadors. Media coverage continues, with local and international media sending interview requests.
The use of sustainable practices
This event was produced with a focus on environmental, economic and social issues.
Sustainability Panel Theme:
The “Future of Work” day had the theme of Sustainable and Regenerative Destinations for the first panel. Panelists included directors of the Zagreb and Dubrovnik Tourist Boards, a NY based travel writer, professional adventurer and blue economy expert as moderator.
Hybrid and Longtermism:
By choosing a hybrid format, virtual attendance allows for less impact on the environment.
The emphasis on longstays (i.e. 1 month) for the Zagreb Digital Ambassador further demonstrates sustainable practices.
The social and economic issues from the COVID19 pandemic and earthquakes affected Zagreb. This event was specifically designed to bring customers to businesses who were most impacted by the events of 2020, among them coworking spaces and hospitality businesses.
Along with the benefits of virtual attendance on the environment, each day’s venues were mostly accessed by public transport and by walking.
A longterm vision to build community was evident from the strong collaborations between businesses and even other cities. City representatives from each corner of Croatia were present – including, central Istria, Northern and Southern Dalmatia.
The panel on sustainable and regenerative destinations enabled viewers to understand the commitment and direction of cities in Croatia, their decision makers, tourism professionals and storytellers.