When people ask what a matchmaking zone is, I always begin my explanation by defining residents and beta-residents. The short version is that residents live in Klitmøller. Beta-residents are recurring visitors of Klitmøller.
Both residents and beta-residents share a deep relationship with the ocean and the surf, the light and the sand dunes, the wildlife and last but not least the culture and the people of Klitmøller and the entire Cold Hawaii coastline.
Residents do most of their work in Klitmøller. Beta-residents live somewhere else and need to bring (some of) their work to Klitmøller to be able to go more often and sometimes stay a little longer.
Behind the distinction between the two types you’ll find our desire to cultivate a kind of micro-business tourism in Klitmoller and Cold Hawaii. So allow me to ramble on a little further.
To do what each of us does isn’t always unproblematic in a village with 830 inhabitants in a municipality with 44 people per square mile that is as far from the capital of Denmark as you can possibly get within Denmark.
No kidding. If you draw a straight line from Copenhagen to any village or town, then Klitmoller is the place in Denmark that is farthest away from Copenhagen.
Many obvious and self-explanatory good things come from living here. But that doesn't change the fact that the village and the area, from a business standpoint, suffer from a lack of people.
We have decided to solve that challenge. The solution is a matchmaking zone. A matchmaking zone is a place where visitors can come and be a part of our place and community for shorter or longer periods.
Making such a place obviously isn't (only) for fun. We do so because we believe that we can create new and better opportunities - for ourselves and the people visiting our village.
The latter are what we call special interest tourism (SIT). A special interest tourist is defined as someone travelling with the primary motivation of practicing or enjoying a special interest. This can include unusual hobbies, activities, themes or destinations, which tend to attract niche markets.
The term SIT has traditionally been used for those forms of tourism that focus on activities which attract a small number of highly dedicated visitors. These may be relatively unusual hobbies or activities practiced by only a few people. Special interest tourism has been described as an alternative to mass tourism.
Seen in this light, Klitmoller has something that many other (Danish) villages do not have, namely a flow of potential users of a matchmaking zone. First of all, the people who are here to surf.
When I hear people talk about (special interest) tourists, it’s almost always exclusively about their money. A tourist is synonymous with the size of their wallet. Therefore, the opportunity lies in what we can sell to them.
I see nothing wrong with that approach. Especially if it means that the product and thus what the area has to offer get better and better because of it. In other words, I of course understand why people in the "industry" think like that and act accordingly.
My view is different though. When I see a tourist, I see a person with a job, a career, a business. I see the "thinkers" and "doers" and the potential and the value that lie in capturing that aspect of the people who every day walk or drive past our windows on the main street in Klitmoller.
As it stands, we surf together but that’s not enough. Therefore, we’re creating a place where creative, energetic and extrovert local (surfers) with a special interest in what Klitmoller and Cold Hawaii has to offer, can meet creative energetic visitors with a similar relationship to what Klitmoller and Cold Hawaii has to offer.
With the matchmaking zone in Klitmoller, we want to cultivate a sort of micro-business tourism. Traditionally business tourism is defined as meetings (face-to-face with business partners), incentives (e.g. a job perk aimed at motivating employees), conferences and exhibitions, or in short 'MICE'.
As such, MICE itself represents different forms of special interest tourism. The branch that we would like to develop is the relationship between surfing, meetings, incentives, (mini)conferences and exhibitions. We call it “SMICE”. It is aimed at those who want to spend more time in Klitmoller, not necessarily in June, July and August, but when the wind blows and the surf is up.
So what happens in a matchmaking zone? Here’s an example from the real world:
Peter is an experienced writer and filmmaker. Peter lives in Copenhagen, where he runs his own business. Peter is a surfer and is therefore a frequent tourist to the Cold Hawaii coast. He does not come out of a desire to take time off and relax. It’s the need to go surfing.
As a freelancer, Peter needs to take care of his business. This also applies when he is in Klitmoller. That’s why Peter has bought a ten-trip ticket to the matchmaking zone in the village. From there he can work effectively. He’s also a part of a community where (local) surfers meet and work together.
During one of the events in the matchmaking zone, Peter met Rasmus, who’s a surfer living in Klitmoller. Rasmus runs his own communication and marketing company and therefore often needs a skilled storyteller and filmmaker. So, Peter and Rasmus started working on different projects together.
It goes without saying that (S)MICE as described here isn’t limited to Klitmoller, surfing or for that matter villages in remote areas. The phenomenon is relevant to any place that has something that interests a large enough group of people so much that they are willing to travel (again and again) to get there.
Traveling like this isn’t about holidays in the traditional sense. It's about a particular interest. What we offer is a chance for people to practice their interest and at the same time to expand their network and to seek out new (business) opportunities. The same could be done within areas that are particularly suitable for rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, diving, fishing, bird-watching, etc.
Seriously – as a person who really, really cares about my work, I would love to be able to travel like this.