Engage – Empower – Inspire – Energise
Hello! My name is Viktoria Darabi and I am Food Culture Tourism Consultant specialising in the Culinary Tourism, Events and Hospitality industries.
I help food and beverage businesses turn food and culinary tourism trends and events into profits. I do this by helping them amplify their passions, skills and stories through events and activities that excite existing and entice new customers.
I use my skills, passion and more than three decades of experience as both a small business owner/operator and corporate contractor, to bring together people, food trends, tourism, events and marketing in innovative ways to benefit communities and social cohesion.
Food in the Blood…
In the 1970’s my mother was a pioneer in TV cooking shows for the Sanitarium Health Food Company on Channel 6 Shepparton VIC, where she presented a 5 minute weekly vegetarian cooking show. As a CEO’s wife in the 70’s and 80’s, she hosted numerous dinner parties at home for visiting company business VIPs.
My early education was undertaken in VIC, QLD, NSW and NZ. After six months of a journalism major in California with a dragon-lady professor, I ran away from university and home for a time to do a travel agents course. I returned to university, but not home and completed a BA (Hons) in French Language and Culture at Loma Linda University, California.
Upon completing the Travel Agent’s course, I was hired by Trafalgar Tours, California as a “paid” intern. As a reward for living successfully on $4.60 per hour was given a free trip to Europe on a 35 day luxury coach trip and first class Pan Am flights to London at the age of 18. “I fell hopelessly and helplessly in love with France – its language, its people, its culture, its food – Ohhhhh the food…” Experiencing Europe at such an influential age changed me forever.
I have been in marketing since the age of 18 and have worked in a diverse variety of multi-nationals, medium and small businesses in marketing roles caring for budgets ranging up to $1M in both Australia and California. I didn’t even know marketing existed as a discipline until that age and after having done several personality tests and being defined as an Analytical/Promoter/Influencer, I now realise it is a pathological condition.
In 1997 I undertook a tree-change and developed an heirloom timber rocking horse business. With my then partner, we became Australia’s largest and only full-time makers and restorers of high quality heirloom rocking horses. With just the two of us, we offered made to order rocking horses, kits, plans, accessories, 3-day rocking horse making classes for baby boomers, coach group tours with morning tea for seniors and a B & B.
To market the business we did numerous interstate trade and Royal Shows. With school aged children and without a support network of grandparents, the travel and shows became impossible. I became very adept at writing press releases and stories about rocking horses and getting them published in national magazines, Sydney metro and regional newspapers. I also pitched TV show producers and had success with about half a dozen resulting in the business being featured on TV about 20 times over a period of 4 years.
During the course of operations, I successfully developed a strategic marketing plan that related to our particular tourism and hospitality niche – Residential Rocking Horse Making Master Classes, “Holiday and Heirloom to Boot”. I developed strategic relationships with other accommodation, food providers and tourism products/experience providers to encourage participants to stay longer and explore the area further.
Two large-scale “Open Weekend” Events were conducted on our 10 acre property in the Hawkesbury. The first of which featured Iain Hewitson from Channel 10’s “Huey’s Cooking Adventures. The event attracted some 50 paying artisan craft and food stallholders and 2000 paying visitors to the event. Huey and his team stayed in Hawkesbury for a week and filmed over thirty segments on the regional producers for their show. The PR and marketing coverage for this event was substantial. It appeared across TV and local radio; several magazines and newspapers plus our, Huey’s and Hawkesbury Harvest’s website. As a result of this event, the Rocking Horse Making classes were booked-out 18 months in advance.
Also during this tree-change I established an Antiques Trail, an Artisan’s Trail and a Regional Festival in the Hawkesbury all based on co-operative marketing. I mentored many small business people, did public speaking for the Department of State and Regional Development, taught marketing workshops for Hawkesbury Council and wrote freelance artisan profiles and the country lifestyle stories for Australian Country Collections magazine for 4 years.