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Preparation for public discussion using World Cafe method
Organizers of the discussion invited various participants – specialists in tourism and recreation. Representatives from municipality, port of Klaipėda, hotels, guides’ association, tourism information centers, museums, Klaipėda District Employers’ Association, Klaipėda Boating Center, Lapių Community, students and graduates of University, media.
A week before event all participants were divided into 5 tables (cafes) according to their occupation, type of activity. For example, there was the café of hotels, café of recreation activities, café of tourism information centers and etc. Students were split to each café according to their fields of interest. The hosts of tables (owners of café) were appointed to the tables in advance too. They should think about problems they want to solve and send them for organisers before discussion.
• How attracts tourists from Scandinavia to Klaipėda region?
• How to attract more visitors to Lithuanian Sea Museum during autumn and winter time?
• How distribute clients flows in SPA center of hotel “Vanagupė” during working days and ensure even distribution of employment?
• How to attract to hotels more guests during non-seasonal period?
• How to use entertainment center “Utrių kalnas” during different seasons?
Initiators of World Cafe created the special environment for large group dialogue. Historical place in the heart of Klaipėda Old Town – White Hall of Friedrich Arcade – was chosen for the event. The imitation of café was modelled in the hall: tables were covered with sheets of paper (tablecloths), and chairs at each café table were put. The coffee and snacks were served in the hall. The live piano music was playing during breaks.
Welcome of participants
The discussion started with positive-thinking session and relaxation task in order increase calmness and good mood of café “clients”. The moderator asked all participants to close the eyes, imagine beautiful beach and let only pleasant minds to take possession on your thinking.
After that moderator introduced Café Rules. The owners of each café were asked to get out from the bag an item and give the name of café somehow related to got item.
Welcome and introduction phase was ended with presentation of each café (why this name, participants) and the problems they want to solve.
Discussions at café
The large group dialogue began with the first of five 10-minutes sessions of brain-storming of ideas in the small groups seated around 5 tables (café). At the end of 10-minutes each member of the group used to move to a different new table having different problem. The host of new table (owner of café) used to welcome “new clients” of café and briefly describe what happened in the previous rounds.
At the end of this process all café had the time to make conclusions and summaries of discussions. Then hosts of tables presented for audience main findings of conversations in each café.
After event World Café participants were asked to fill in evaluation form to say their opinion about large group dialogue.
Majority of respondents underlined that distribution participants’ groups by the tables according to their fields of activities was very successful. Each problem was discussed from very different angles. Also everybody thinks that relaxation techniques used at the beginning of dialogue, positive attitude of organisers and moderator of event inspired participants to open discussions. It was important, because most of participants didn’t’ know each other, especially students needed to be encouraged to express their ideas freely.
Some participants, mainly entrepreneurs, were happy with time management and fast pace of small group rounds; some, especially students, would appreciate more time (for instance 20-30 minutes) for conversations in each café. But all participants wrote that they gained undoubted benefit from event – a lot of new ideas, information and contacts.