The past three days have been non-stop. We have seen a good portion of the country from the windows of our giant touring bus that has transported us from Belgrade to Southern Serbia and Northern Serbia and back again. With the help of our translator, Dragan, and trip coordinator, Neda, we have had face to face meetings with all five of our clients and toured each of their production facilities.
On Monday, we drove three hours south to the town of Aleksandrovac for our first on-site visit. We were pleasantly surprised to see how modern the production facilities were at this particular company, and also how hospitable and open our host was. It was clear that the client appreciated our being there and the work we were doing to help them with their marketing efforts. Our group also drove to Krusevac (and hour south of Aleksandrovac) and Bruce (an hour north of Krusevac) which are rural towns on either side of Aleksandrovac. That day we also stopped for an amazing lunch of meat soup with meat and more meat, which was absolutely delicious (Serbian food will have to be a whole other post, but you should know that they eat alot of meat). Although we spent a total of 13.5 hours traveling that day, we can all agree that the time was well spent and it was a great opportunity to see the beautiful Serbian countryside.
On Tuesday, we drove to the town Ruski Krstur, which is just north of Novi Sad, one of the larger cities in Serbia, to visit another client. This client was equally as welcoming as the others had been. After spending so much time on the bus the day before our group resorted to passing the driving time by playing games on the bus, which was not only fun but helped the five hours of travel time to fly by.
Today, we drove a (thankfully) short distance to Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) which is just across the Sava River from our hotel. This particular client went above and beyond and treated our entire group to lunch and even gave us many boxes of their product as a gift. We were also privileged to meet the Chairman of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce who is a good friend of the company owner. Following the client visit, our group went to Delta City which is a large shopping mall that houses the largest grocery store in the Belgrade area, Super Maxi. We spent our time at the Super Maxi doing research on Serbian products and checking out the competitive landscape for each of our clients. It has been interesting to learn about the difference between US products and Serbian products and also what Serbian consumers respond to. This trip to the grocery store gave us invaluable insight on the landscape of Serbian packaged goods.
With all of the information gathered from our on-site visits with our clients and trips to local grocery stores, we are now able to put some finishing touches on our marketing plans for each of our clients. We are all very excited about the next steps in the process. Hopefully the next steps do not involve a bus 🙂