· Executive Summary
· The source of D’Gostar challenge
· Brief company presentation
· Main company needs identified
· Main goal
· Activities to develop
· Expected results
· Criteria for selected participants
· Period to implement the activities to solve the challenge
· Performed tasks
· Contributions from partners
· Selected participants
· Performed tasks
· Expected results
· Recognition of this challenge
· Used tools/resources
· Used tools
· Difficulties experienced in the course of this challenge
· Main conclusions

Erasmus Co-funded project
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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Executive Summary

The following report is under ther Erasmus+ KA202 project “Real Challenges for VET Students” project (RC4VETs). The main objective is creating challenges based on real problems/situations to prepare and facilitate the transition of students into the labor market. This time, the challenge has been elaborated by the Portuguese partner, Proandi, together with local company D’Gostar restaurant, based on their needs, and will be worked on by trainees from areas related to Commerce, Business, Administration, Restaurant or Tourism at ISCED 3, 4 and 5 levels, of the six Vocational Education and Training institutions in partner countries: Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

Vocational Training Centers involved into “D’Gostar” challenge

The source of D’Gostar challenge

The “D’Gostar” challenge is behind the need of Proandi to find another partner to continue the challenge under the RC4VETS project. On October 7th 2021, we were informed by the restaurant manager of the previous challenge partner “Casa Paivense” that they were going to sell the restaurant, for personal reasons and, as a result, they could no longer be partners in this challenge.

In this way, an email was sent to the project coordinator and partners to inform them of what had happened and that we already had an alternative with a new partner to proceed with the challenge, trying to maintain a similar structure. During the transnational meeting in Glyfada (Greece) from 20 to 21 October, Proandi presented this challenge, which was accomplished, but also presented the new challenge “D’Gostar” and what would be done to divide the work among all the partners.

D’Gostar restaurant and Take-Away accepted the challenge and integrated the project. After a meeting between the Proandi team and the head of the company, the development of a Communication Plan for the restaurant was defined. The Communication Plan for D’Gostar main objective is developing a communication plan for the restaurant, located in Póvoa de Varzim, applying it in your day-to-day.

Since the company intends to develop more the image side, attracting more customers, and not so much looking for financial solutions, we think that the best option was to develop a communication plan.

Brief company presentation

Global Cook, Lda. is a company providing catering services, namely take away, restaurant, catering, bakery and pastry services. D’Gostar (it’s one of the restaurant brands of Global Cook, Lda.) opened its first unit in 2012 in Póvoa de Varzim and in the following years it opened in Vila do Conde, Guimarães and Famalicão. D’Gostar is the creative name given to a take-away and restaurant with typically traditional and homemade food.

Main company needs identified

As already mentioned, this communication plan was carried out, since the company wanted to boost its image and reach new target audiences.

In the first period of confinement (March 2021), D’Gostar decreased in-store by around 80% from our regular customers. It had to quickly adapt in a proactive way, through home deliveries to private customers and also deliveries to companies, consequently the Communication Plan is highly important for D’Gostar, as it will allow them to get closer to customers and adapt faster to any changes in the regularity of the market.

Main goal

The to be developed challenge’s main goal is defining the Communication Plan for “D’Gostar challenge”. It was planned to involve all partners from different areas.

Activities to develop

  • Meetings with the involved staff for identifying needs within the company and necessary information for planning the project phases.
  • Meetings with staff to plan the stages for implementing the challenge and the physical and material resources to be involved.
  • Meetings with company officials and trainees, mentors and tutors who will participate in the project.
  • Follow-up and monitoring all the project phases by Proandi.
  • Monitoring meetings with the resources involved and responsible of the company to communicate status reports and other matters.
  • Presentation of the final version of the Communication Plan to the heads of the company and if there are any changes, proceed with these rectifications.

Expected results

  • Communication Plan creation.
  • Monitoring activity.
  • Formative and non-formative community engagement to achieve the challenge.
  • Provide trainees a different experience and an approach to the labor market.
  • Allow trainees to become more autonomous with decision-making skills.
  • Provide trainees with personal skills important to the labor market.

Criteria for selected participants

For D’Gostar challenge, the selected criteria were:

  • Number of participants — 4 or 5 per partner
  • Academic qualifications — trainees from professional courses in the field of cooking, pastry, catering, trade, commerce, economy, e-marketing, e-commerce, health care (level 3/4/5 EQF)
  • Gender of participants — depends on each entity
  • English level — a level that allows participants to understand a dialogue in English; basic knowledge of English — concepts and grammar

Before selecting the participants, it’s essential to talk to all interested people to find out if they are motivated to work on the project and understand why. Students who may come from disadvantaged backgrounds can also participate.

Period to implement the activities to solve the challenge

The challenge was developed from 7 October until the end of January 2022.

Performed tasks

Proandi prepared the topics for the communication plan and among all the partners it was established that each one would develop certain topics.

Contributions from partners

It is important to mention that this report includes the individual tasks that each partner was responsible for doing, but all working together. Depending on the topics worked on, each partner met online with their team and with partners from other countries, whenever necessary. It was not individual work, but cooperation between all partners.

Selected participants

In the graphs showed are represented respectively: the participants gender balance where a significant majority of women can be noticed (70,5%) and their age range, where the majority of students are from 18 to 24 years old.

The field of studies of the participants with a predominance coming from the administrative and financial fields (48,8%) and and more than 25% from cookery and pastry.

Finally, regarding the EFQ level of participants respectively 13 and 14 students were from EFQ 4 and EFQ 5 level, with only two 2 from EFQ level 3.

Performed tasks

Proandi prepared the topics for the communication plan among all the partners. Each partner had to develop certain subjects. In this respect, the Bulgarian team, supported by Desislava Pencheva — Director of VET Center within the Bulgarian — Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was in charge of elaborating on D’Gostar Communication plan, chapter II — What Is A Communication Plan, Sections 2.1. Communication Plan Objectives And 2.2 Message. Before the first Learning Teaching Training Activities (LTTA) hosted by Proandi with 14 participants with 12 teachers in Póvoa de Varzim, the Bulgarian students elaborated preliminary research on the designated tasks. They prepared a presentation of the main ideas and proposals for the key messages of the restaurant to communicate with their target audience. However, during this 1st LTTA from 22nd to 26th November 2021, Bulgarian participants continued their work in collaboration with the DIEK Glyfada’s Greece-Commerce Team for the further detailed development of the tasks. Key messages were outlined, along with an activities calendar and budget proposal for advertising and promotion in communication activities and campaigns. A joint presentation followed the initial development of those segments on the last day at Póvoa de Varzim; this latter involved constructive feedback. Finally, the project was finalized with the extensive analysis uploaded on the designated Google Drive.

Connecting with their studies, IT students from the Slovenian Poklicni Center Obala and the public vocational training CIFP César Manrique cooperated in preparing the Webpage design and content. The centers created a map of small challenges for all the students, which they needed to fulfill according to the webpage development. After organizing a brainstorm of what is good to include in the webpage, students started to program the page based on the plan.

In addition, CIFP César Manrique students elaborated a Digital Marketing Plan and a Digital content using graphics and design tools. Beyond the content, they found new ideas that could reflect the general philosophy and define D’Gostar’s mission, vision and values. To increase D’Gostar promotion and dissemination, they created a promotional video, organized the Instagram feed, and made it more attractive.

For such, the students selected the middle column of the meal to share different services of the restaurant as quotes, healthy lifestyles, other company restaurants, etc. In the first and third column, they shared the main meals. Finally, they created logos for the different restaurants.

In collaboration with PCO caretaker students, students from the non profit organization Submeet and the hosting Vocational Education Training Provider Proandi developed three different menus to attract more customers with fish, meat, and vegetarian alternatives and prepared dishes with healthy ingredients suitable for people with a celiac, a gouty arthritis and a ketogenic diet. They had to write recipes that respected the national traditions but were also ideal for the chosen diet. They combined those recipes and turned them into a menu for D’Gostar, which consisted of a starter, main course and a dessert.

Expected results

All Participants achieved the expected results in the challenge. The communication plan objectives were outlined and by implementing participants’ suggestions, the owners raised awareness about their business and attracted new clients, preferably young people, and maintained their existing loyal clients. In particular the proposals were composed of: two final key messages ( “Travel for less” / “Travel to taste”); a traditional and digital media for advertising and promotion. Moreover, they elaborated an events calendar and outlined both advertising and promotion campaigns and specific activities. At the same time also the working webpage can be reached through this link below:

http://proandi.pco.si/krneki/wordpress/

Front of D’Gostar restaurant

The site is not completely finished, due to missing data. The expected result from the Caretaker students were menus for different diseases, which our students also completed:

Moreover, a digital market plan has been prepared to achieve the company’s commercial objectives. Secondly, the positioning and online marketing processes have been defined with guidelines for carrying out online advertising and promotion. In addition, the new communication and customer relationship trends in digital marketing have been identified, also by carrying out marketing actions through mobile devices. Regarding the social networks, communications, advertising and sales have been accomplished with other users, adding, as well as audiovisual and photographic contents of the activity, products and commercial processes. In particular, they posted elements and used photographic and audiovisual tools into the social network page.

Beyond the positive effect on the D’Gostar business, the project had a fruitful impact on the students since they improved communication, interpersonal and relational skills with peers from other cultures. They improved their English language and problem-solving skills, also improving their capacity to work in a multifunctional team, enhancing their team working abilities.

Recognition of this challenge

To summarize, BRCCI and Proandi students were recognized through a certificate of participation provided during the D’Gostar challenge. PCO IT students did not get any specific recognition because they had to develop at least three Webpages/APPs, which they put in the final exam. All their products are being gathered together and exactly monitored (searching for: who was responsible for what and how their work contributed to the final product and its difficulty level). This program/APP would later be in their portfolio for the final exam. Regarding caretaker students they had to do their own research and produce results in the school dietetics subject. The students received a grade for their work. The recipes were also made public for everyone to reproduce. Regarding DIEK GLYFADA and Submeet students, they received extra grades in their final exams. Finally, CIFP César Manrique students received an exemption from a relative subject in the final exam.

Moreover, at the end of the 1st LTTA (22nd — 26nd Nov. 2021, Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal) activities an Europass Mobility document has been provided for all the participants.

Used tools/resources

Used tools

To communicate between partners, several online tools were used:

  • Shared folder on Google Drive for placing materials produced and necessary for the challenge
  • Communication using institutional email of all partners
  • Online meetings through Meet and Zoom for internal meetings of the team and with the owners of the restaurant.
  • Discussions with teachers in Vocational School of Economics and Management in Ruse.
  • Free materials on internet resources related to communication plan objectives, purpose and structure.
  • Educational school handbooks on Marketing and communication.
  • Ms-Office suite.
  • Acrobat suite.
  • Capcut: create video.
  • Canva: edit pictures.
  • Photopea: edit pictures.
  • Freepik: free online pictures.
  • Shutterstock: free online pictures.
  • Lightroom: using free presets to edit pictures.
  • Google drive: cloud to share ideas and graphic material.
  • Planable: webpage to observe how the feed of Instagram will be before uploading the pictures.

Difficulties experienced in the course of this challenge

No major difficulties were identified during the implementation of the tasks. In the beginning there was some confusion regarding the change of the restaurant and in the organization of the work and what the restaurant was supposed to achieve with this new challenge. In particular regarding the EFQ 5 studies, the students had some difficulties at the beginning as they had a lot of ideas on how the social media profiles would be created, but as a group they had to put all the ideas together. These were students from different Vocational Education Trainings and therefore they did not know each other, consequently sharing information was a little bit hard for them as the only connection was the Digital Marketing course. In addition, PCO students experienced some difficulties in communicating with the owner. They received much material in English, however at first the owner was not clear about which parts of the text were better to add on the Webpage and in which language (English, Spanish and Portuguese). In addition, regarding the EFQ 3 level students, some of the partners could not access the common folder. The communication was slower; however, after the face-to-face meetings in Povoa de Varzim the gaps were closed and clarifications, photos and additional information were provided to the participants.

Main conclusions

Despite the restaurant replacement during the challenge, Proandi managed to facilitate the smooth work of the teams, and all misunderstandings were overcome. This was a restaurant challenge but the experience achieved helped students to understand how vital their knowledge and practical skills were. Firstly,they had to work on something they had no experience with and solve the problems. Secondly, they could improve on communication, understanding customers’ needs and gathering information about them. Thirdly, they gained more autonomy about the work done and their problem-solving capacity in the moments that arose. Still, they also developed other values, such as working with people from other groups. Moreover, they learned how to manage a social media platform, use a wide range of webpages for Marketing, deal with patients that get wrong dishes based on their diet requirements, and create content and value. Finally, the students learned that they were capable of doing it and applying it in their future work environment.

In addition, the LTTA organized by the project partner Proandi in Povoa de Varzim was very successful for all participants. Indeed, it consisted of new challenges, unique connections with the instructors and the students, an array of innovative ideas and proposals, exciting discussions on the progress, the essential upcoming activities and the project’s outcome.

To summarize, the “D’Gostar communication plan” challenge undoubtedly provided participants the opportunity to develop activities to solve a real challenge managed by a Portuguese company. The students and teachers/instructors of the partnership have collaborated to provide solutions in collaboration with other partners. In addition to this, the implementation of this challenge gave the opportunity to 2 students and 2 teachers of each partner to travel to Portugal and discover the national culture, witness the Portuguese hospitality, improve English language skills, and encounter fun experiences such as the Fado night, and new contacts for future projects. new international partners and friends that we will cherish. At the very end of the trip, all agreed that the objectives were achieved as the communication plan was completed and we as people gained self-knowledge and had the chance to grow in such a short amount of time, marking it as a successful and memorable trip.

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Eduardo del Reguero

Profesor en Ciclos Formativos FP. Ingeniería Informática - Universidad de La Laguna. Learning English