The Value of Strategic Partnerships in Hospitality: How Corfu Beer Is Making a Difference

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Successful individuals often have a team of people behind them; the same is true of prosperous businesses. These enterprises are made stronger through the people they employ, the suppliers they work with, and the strategic partnerships they form.

I recently discovered an independent brewery, Corfu Beer, situated on the peaceful, north-western shores of Corfu. Tucked away in the town of Arillas, it’s easy to miss. The building, that is. The impact this business has on others, however, can be felt near and far. Its influence stretches well beyond Arillas, all across Corfu, and into the greater European continent. The secret to their success? It stems from an incredible vision, powered by strategic partnerships.

Here’s how you can take a page out of Corfu Beer’s brewer book, and concoct a recipe for business success.

Strategic partnerships start with a clear goal

Two things come to mind when I think of the team behind Corfu Beer: passion and integrity. They love making great beer. And the thing that keeps them going today is the very thing that brought them together in the first place.

They wanted to make a difference.

Not long ago, Corfu, Greece, and most of Europe felt the economic strains of a recession. Many lost their jobs, and virtually everyone had to tighten their belts. To bolster the local economy, beer aficionados Spiros & Thanasis Kaloudis made a bold move.

They started a brewery in a small town in a country known for spirits.

Why? So that they could hire locally and keep the town’s economy afloat while doing what they love.

And they did. They achieved success and garnered acclaim locally despite the hard economic times. Then they trained their sights on the entire Ionion Islands Region—and beyond. By setting their sights higher, and further, they were able to develop a powerful vision statement (and organize one heck of a beer festival).

Their vision:

“… to extend the summer tourist season in Corfu in October… wanting thus to contribute to local economic empowerment of our island.

We would like to provide also a unique opportunity for the participating countries so as to connect and unite with each other.”

How strategic partnerships lead to economic empowerment

In Greece, a country whose tourist population ebbs and flows according to the widespread best-time-to-visit assumptions, extending the tourist season can have profound implications. With every additional week that travellers arrive on its azure blue shores with their transportation, accommodation, and culinary needs, the country’s economy receives a significant injection of revenue.

To help them achieve their goal and prolong the flow of tourists (and money) that Corfu enjoys during the summer months, Spiros and Thanasis decided to host a beer festival at the beginning of the fall season. Travellers would get the nice weather and have the added incentive of the beer festival—a unique experience they couldn’t get in the summer.

And so, a microbrewery in a small island town managed to attract enough travellers to impact the economy of the island region’s second largest island—outside of the high season.

How? By building strategic partnerships with local and foreign brands of kindred ideologies, and by taking advantage of every cross-promotional opportunity such partnerships bring.

In their first year they partnered with Germany’s Bavarian breweries, gastronomic giants, and entertainers. Year Two saw affiliations with the UK’s finest in food, drink, and music. This year, the festival will host Italian brewers, cooks, and artists, all showcasing their culture’s passion for fine food and great drink.

What are strategic partnerships anyway?

Strategic partnerships are the professional relationships established between brands. In the case of Corfu Beer, the brewery reached out to like-minded organisations that shared their goal and could help them achieve it via partnership marketing. It was how Corfu Beer was able to generate more exposure for both their brand and their community.

Strategic partnerships help brands like Corfu Beer reach new audiences through a mutual leveraging of marketing initiatives. They add value to what the partnered brands already offer their customers, as well. And when it has such partnerships, a company is no longer dependent solely on its own marketing channels and assets. Instead, it can use the channels of all of their strategic partners, too.

Ready to find out how to form strategic partnerships?

First step: establishing the goal

Strategic partnerships begin with and depend upon a shared vision.

Corfu Beer’s vision was to extend the local tourist season, and by forming their strategic partnerships around that common goal, they were able to achieve it: Their Corfu Beer Festival brings in 10 thousand visitors to an island that, according to HVS (a prominent Greek Hospitality Intel firm) has around 44 thousand hotel beds in total. That’s a pretty significant stream of traffic for a time of year when hotels would normally close their doors.

As a hotel owner, take a look at your locale. Identify what you, your town or city, and the other local businesses can together provide, improve, protect, or promote. Is anything threatening tourism in the area? Are there any local events, delicacies, or other unique features that are failing to attract visitors? What will you cross-promote? What common goal will you leverage your marketing partnerships to accomplish?  Analyse your cultural, social, and environmental surroundings and determine what issue you want to address. There’s your rallying point.

Now it’s time to find your strategic partners.

Building the partnerships

Corfu Beer decided to promote tourism locally by developing strategic partnerships with the most relevant companies first. For the brewery, this meant playing host to brewers from countries with strong beer cultures.

Now in its third season of playing host, Corfu Beer works with an army of tradesmen, small businesses, artists, hotels, transportation providers, food vendors, entertainment providers, and tourism companies—because what’s a festival without food and entertainment?

And the brewery’s strategic partnerships are at the centre of their festival’s success, because they partner with parties that align with the Corfu Beer brand values and have similar goals. But they don’t stop there. The brewery empowers their partners, offering up their own media channels and assets to them and supporting them however they can.

You and your hotel can do the same.

Begin by looking at the organisations in your local business-improvement, destination-marketing, and commercial arenas. Next, research industry-specific groups such as hotel, tourism, and hospitality associations. Then identify which companies and groups may compliment yours in branding and vision—these are the brands you want to approach first. Just make sure to draft the costs and benefits of the partnership before bringing other groups on-board.

Final thoughts

When speaking with master brewer Klaudio, it became clear to me that the festival embodies everything Corfu Beer is about. It creates jobs for locales, it fosters international relations through strategic partnerships, and it extends the local tourism season—in short, it achieves everything the brewers set out to accomplish.

Consider your assets and think beyond the threshold of your own hotel. By supporting the local community, empowering others, and reaching beyond your borders, you too can bring in additional business and even impact your own economy.


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