On-line shopping has taken a flight over the last years, with large digital operators with no need for physical spaces gaining ground, and with large retail chains complementing their physical shop activities with very active webshops. Smaller commerce and retail operators have great difficulties in competing in this environment.
The crisis from the last years has put additional strain on smaller commerce and retail businesses, which has led to the closure of many businesses in areas which were once the commercial centre of the town or neighbourhood. This has not only affected the commerce and retail sector, but also the hospitality and cultural businesses in these areas. A commercial area with less commerce or retail is prone to loose visitors, which in turn has a spill over effect on the hospitality and cultural businesses in the area. In many medium-sized and bigger towns, large malls on the outskirts offer a “one-stop-experience” for shopping, culture and hospitality, generating even more difficulties for the smaller ones in the centres to subsist.
Not only the retail, commerce, culture and hospitality sectors are aware of this issue, but the deterioration of commercial areas, has raised interest from municipalities and civic organisations, as the reduction in retail, commerce, hospitality and cultural activities in these kind of areas results in an overall deterioration of the area, with less movements of persons. Many municipalities are looking for solutions which can help them to give new live to these kind of areas and spaces.
Trends related to increased awareness among consumers about sustainability issues, the impact their decisions have on the environment, and the “slow”-movement (which advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life's pace, and of which the “slow-food” movement is the most well-known), generate ample opportunities to bring about the so-much desired change. Proximity products and services are gaining ground. Also, consumers nowadays not only acquire a product or services, but look for an “experience” or a statement with regards to their preferences and lifestyles. If one merely wants to buy a product, going on-line is for many the obvious option, so attracting consumers/visitors to the commercial areas requires an added value, e.g. an experience, or a combination of products or services not easily found somewhere else that are sustainable, ecological and environment-friendly.
Although there are already some initiatives springing up in commercial area, which cover the consumer demands with regards to sustainability, proximity and the slow movement such as shops which offer products in bulk so the consumer can buy exactly the needed amount, or those offering local ecological produce, there are many which have not adapted to this new setting. It is difficult for a small commerce, retail, hospitality or cultural/creative business to provide answers to the aforementioned challenges individually, and when they do, the impact is limited to the specific type of consumers they address, with less possibility of opening up their offerings to other types of consumers. Hence intense collaboration through the joint creation, design and implementation of new products and/or services, offering the consumer the needed experience is key.
The present project aims to provide an answer to the aforementioned challenges by offering a learning programme aimed at owners, managers and self-employed persons of small retail, commerce, hospitality and cultural/creative businesses in commercial areas in decay (or at risk of) which gives them the knowledge, skills and competences to:
By acquiring these skills they will be able individually and jointly provide an answer to the demands of the sustainable conscious and digital-native consumer, open to the slow-movement concept and compete through differentiation offering a different and unique experience.
The Erasmus+ project STORIE (2018-2020) aims to improve the competitiveness of rural businesses that operate in tourism and related sectors. STORIE will create an online learning tool and a set of guidelines to help develop skills and capacities of small rural companies in design and promotion of sustainable tourism products based on intangible cultural heritage.
Project partners are 7 organisations from 5 EU countries - Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania and Spain - involved in rural tourism, training, consulting, research, and association activities. The project is coordinated by Lake Velencei Development Nonprofit Company - VELENCEI (Hungary).
Why is this important?
Rural tourism supports about 1 million direct and indirect jobs in Europe. It deals with issues of depopulation of rural areas, encourages environmental conservation and enhancement, helps retain “traditional” skills; it can be a great tool for safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage and enrich the lives of enormous numbers of people.
At the same time, there is a need for small rural businesses to become more professional in their marketing efforts, enhance cooperation and learn how to use the valuable unique resources of their region to create memorable tourism experiences.
Returning to Labour Market through Entrepreneurship - RE-ENTER - is an Erasmus+ KA2 project that started in 2017 and will be completed in 2019. Learning Detours implements the project together with partners from Croatia, Greece, Netherlands, Norway and Spain.
RE-ENTER aims to understanding of the motivation of, and the skills most needed by the potential and new entrepreneurs of over
45, particularly in project countries, and provide an Entrepreneurial Development Programme meeting the needs of this target group. The Programme will offer full support for development of entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge and skills.
The online learning materials will be available through the project website www.reenter.eu in 2019.
The final event of the Erasmus+ ENTERPRISE project took place in Nicosia on 8 May 2017. Once again we met and shared the experiences and memories from the mobilities in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.
36 students from Cyprus worked on 5 business models for local Leeuwarden companies, exploring innovative ideas of beer made of old bread (recycling!), surprise dinners, insect food, business cafe and chocolate "insurance".
The traineeships involved developing a final presentation/ pitch, which would convince a potential investor...or a manager of a business incubator.
And the winner is...the Insect Food team!
And the winner is...everyone that took part and tried to get the most of this experience. Learning how a small business starts and grows, trying to be creative and innovative in a "serious game", playing with business ideas. Meeting new people and new culture. Getting to know each other and ourselves?
What's next? Any new business ideas? We are looking forward to continue working with the "alumni" of the project.
ENTERPRISE - Development of entrepreneurship, creativity and teamwork skills for students and teachers in VET
The Erasmus+ ENTERPRISE project (Key Action 1 - VET learner and staff mobility) aims to increase entrepreneurship of young people - VET students - as well as the ability of VET teachers to influence the development of these skills and competences - by offering opportunities to acquire experience abroad, improve intercultural communication and language skills, as well as strengthen the self-confidence and independence of students and pedagogical competences of teachers.
36 students and 2 teachers from VET schools/ colleges in Cyprus will have an opportunity to see and experience how young businesses are started and supported in the Netherlands. They will work on real case studies of local companies trying to understand their business models and suggest improvements. The participants will be hosted by Business Development Friesland - a business support organisation that has their own business incubator.
The project is coordinated by Learning Detours, and includes 2 VET colleges - Intercollege Nicosia and Intercollege Larnaca, and 2 VET schools - B Technical School of Nicosia and Technical School Makarios III.
Local communities and cultural heritage preservation are at the centre and constitute key ingredients in ensuring sustainability in tourism. Cultural heritage inherently provides information about the history and identity of a community through its interpretation and communication to visitors and locals (new generations) and is essential to it's sustainability. While the valorisation, exploitation and promotion of the tangible cultural heritage is well established, the exploitation of the intangible cultural heritage is lagging behind.
Despite the fact that there are well established examples and success stories, there are still ample opportunities in tourism for new and innovative products (and thus the preservation of local communities through the creation of tourism-related job opportunities). Therefore, the L’AQUA consortium feels that the intangible heritage that focuses on local traditions, sayings, stories, sagas, legends, deserves the same level of attention as the tangible heritage.
L ́AQUA focuses on the tourism potential of intangible heritage, establishing a transnational route with regional sections covering in total 8 areas/countries (Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Hungary) where water and related activities play an important role in their geography and/or history, and putting the magnifying glass on the sagas, myths, legends and traditions associated to water.
In the participating countries/regions, the needs of private companies are very much concentrated in just one issue, attracting more visitors. This is a growingly hard task as travellers are no longer where they used to be (new ways of marketing and new consumers need new strategies; pursuing internationalization strategies requires more specific tools and placing the traveller at the centre of the tourist product or experience).
Transnational potential demand should be considered and addressed, taking into account the variety of institutions that are already working in different fields and have access with potential markets. Marketing tourism products in foreign countries is essential for survival.
for more information please contact Elias Kouloumis
The L'AQUA project is being funded with support from the European Commission. This publication/communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
18 students with backgrounds in pharmacy, sports management and business administration formed 3 business teams and worked on a specific theme using different tools in the process, like Business Model Canvas and Lego Serious Play.
After 2 weeks of training sessions with different challenges and team work, a lot of hard work and fun, 3 business models were presented and everybody successfully completed the programme. We had some time to explore the sights of Cyprus as well!
For more information about MOVIN+ contact Vita Adomaviciute