The 3rd Corfu Symposium on Managing and Marketing Places we organised between 18 and 21 April 2016 at the Corfu Mare Hotel was a big success! We would like to share with you our experience of the event and the practical outcomes of the Symposium.
On this year’s Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places, we had many interesting presentations, from both academics and practicioners from all over the world. We had delegates from Greece, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, the USA, Thailand and Saudi Arabia! The presentations covered many facets of place management, making, marketing and branding, but the most important fact for us is that we got most delegates to think with us on how we could apply all their knowledge and experience on how to manage and market our own place, the island of Corfu.
This is, in our opinion, what makes the Corfu Symposium unique. Academics do present their papers and discuss about them, but they also engage with local practicioners and stakeholders who are looking for ways to implement all this wealth of knowledge. This encourages both academic and practicioner delegates to think about and maybe even actively participate in putting their research to practice, joining us in an effort to change the image of Corfu from a mass tourism destination to an exciting place with great nature and culture, high quality local products, hospitality, and all kinds of cultural, sport and spiritual activities. Seasoned academics were impressed and told us that the engagement with “the real world” in this Symposium is higher than in any other academic conference!
We had a great meeting in the Town Hall of Corfu, where all our delegates had the chance to talk with the Mayor of Corfu, Kostas Nikolouzos, for 45 minutes. The Mayor listened with great interest to what our delegates had to say, but admitted there are no resources available to devote to place branding. Whatever happens is up to us!
But what did we discuss with the Mayor? These were the basic themes:
- Developing alternative forms of tourism.
- Attracting visitors in the low season.
- Utilising the cultural heritage of Corfu, especially with Corfu town being a UNESCO heritage site.
- Protecting and utilising the nature of Corfu.
- Creating a general branding concept to consolidate existing and future cultural and other events.
- Utilising augmented reality and virtual reality applications.
- Branding the island of Corfu as “slow” (slow food etc).
This can sound all quite theoretical, but as we said, this is an outcome-oriented symposium. So, on the issue of trying to implement all these ideas in reality, some of our delegates are going to try to find funding for concrete projects to be carried out on the island.
The second thing we all agreed on is that, as there are no resources from the local government, tackling the whole island of Corfu is probably too ambitious. So, what we will do instead is focus on Arillas, our village on the north west coast, which is going to act like a prototype! Arillas is a unique place, where the local community is already very active in taking care of the village and alternative tourism is booming. More on Arillas on our website. One of our delegates has already done some preliminary work on defining the Arillas brand and next year one day of the Symposium is going to be held in Arillas!
A third practical spin-off is that one of our delegates is seriously considering bringing a group of 30 third-year students for a field trip to Corfu next spring. This means that we will have thirty young academics carrying out research on the island!
What I haven’t mentioned yet is the general feeling of the symposium. I think it is beautifully portrayed by the fabulous photos Ian Southerin made! We feel a strong connection with all our guests. We had a lot of fun, laughs, good times and interesting discussions, not only on place-related subjects but also on Life, the Universe and Everything!
We would like to thank all people who participated in the Symposium for helping make it such a great event. Our 4th Corfu Symposium next year will be from 24 till 27 April 2017 and we are already looking forward to it!!!