Life really is better in Greece, and it just may have been perfected in Corfu. You can feel it. From the rich cerulean blue skies, to the crystal-clear waters and salted air. But it doesn’t end there. The passion of the people and the dedication that they have towards one another is moving. It’s this bond to one another that’s driving the local economy. Small and medium, often family-run businesses, are breathing new life into Corfu.

One of those family businesses is Taverna Tripa.

How to Run a Family Business

Taverna Tripa is engrained in the modern history of Corfu and the people know it well. Hoteliers, fellow restauranteurs, Corfiots, dignitaries, and celebrities alike have passed through its humble doors many a time. From the likes of Aristotle Onassis to Jane Fonda, it’s a must-go when in Corfu. Why? For starters, the restaurant has been perfecting hospitality since its doors first opened in 1936.

So, what’s the secret to their success? Why do so many seek out this quaint tavern, tucked away from the island’s main city?

It’s three-fold, really. They share their history with guests, focus on their unique selling point (USP), and never forget who they are.

Leverage your history and share your story with guests

The family behind Taverna Tripa has a rich history and each new guest becomes a part of its fabric. From the wartime stories, to the décor, and right down to the highly thoughtful selection of house specialties, nothing is without its story. Its Prix-fixe when you’re at Tripa, and standard fare is a mix of delectable mezedes (appetizers) and platters (samples of main meals), complemented by copious amounts of the well-reputed house wine.

It’s through these tastes, their stories, and the atmosphere that Taverna Tripa has undoubtedly fashioned their humble family business into something of legend.

But everybody has a history. Every hotel, restaurant, and small to medium business has an essence. An inspiration, and a starting point. It matters little if a family business has opened 8 years ago or 80 years ago. It’s only the ‘how’ that really matters, and the way you articulate that to guests, encouraging them to become a part of it.

Stories live forever. Word of mouth is touted as the best form of advertising. And it starts with you, your family, and the tale that you have to tell. Share it with guests as Taverna Tripa does. Mention ‘how it all began’ on your website, via social media, and in-house through your in-room materials.

It’ll leave an impression, and chances are good that this small but powerful detail will set you apart from the competition.

Focus on your Unique Selling Point (USP)

But your history isn’t all guests want to know about. They want to know what makes you unique and how that will lead them to have an experience unrivaled by any other hotel stay, or in the case of Taverna Tripa, restaurant visit.

Tripa’s owners, Spyros and Rena Anyfantis, take their history beyond the stories of yesteryear and incorporate it in their offerings of food, drink, ambiance, and decor.

While pigging out on Pastitsada, the house specialty, chances are good you’re also staring at a wall that has the markings of time leaning against it, or propped up on one of its shelves. Shelves that can’t be clearly seen for the sheer number of full booze bottles lined up upon them.

And these bottles are Taverna Tripa’s Unique Selling Point (USP).

It begins when founder, Grandpa Anyfantis, collected bottles from store fronts as Corfu was being bombed during the war. Main buildings lost their doors and windows, and the walls were pitted with bullet holes and marks left by shrapnel. But that didn’t stop Anyfantis. No. He grabbed remarkably intact bottles from abandoned and shelled store fronts in Corfu town instead. He used these to cover his own walls. Guests to the tavern then began to donate bottles to the cause.

Well, 80 years have gone by and the shelves are about 4 rows deep now and graced with silken threads from almost a century of spiders building their webs. And everyone who knows Taverna Tripa knows about those bottles. Many are inclined to donate on their return visits to this day. And this unique selling point means that the average guest is no longer a visitor but rather they a part of something much more. They immerse themselves in a unique experience, leaving a part of themselves behind, to be remembered by. A bottle full of cognac perhaps would do the trick.

And it’s not the libation that matters, but the ability for guests to be a part of Tripa’s story, and make it their own.

The same goes for your hotel. What makes you unique? Think long and hard about this. And then let guests know, and encourage them to be a part of your family business. When you do, you’ll be running something much greater than just any hotel, but literally shaping the memories of others and weaving their story into yours.

People become attached to people, not places

Taverns are everywhere, and many countries boast beautiful beaches and a variety of attractions for travellers to frequent. But that’s not what makes for an unforgettable trip.

People get attached to the people that they meet on those trips far more than they do to the places they see.

Just because you run a business doesn’t mean you should distance yourself from your clientele. One of the biggest strengths of a family business is that they are just that- family.

And guests are drawn to this. At Tripa, you instantly get a sense of the family, their philosophies, and that which guides them through their daily operations.

I spent a couple nights at Tripa. The first one was a by pure chance. Chef Christos Ioannidis, from Nagual Beach Bar, was talking to me about how he ended up at Nagual. His story involved Taverna Tripa. And then he asked if I was familiar with the restaurant. When I said ‘no’ he suggested we reserve a table that night because ‘You can’t come to Corfu and not go to Taverna Tripa’.

That was good enough reason for me.

The second time was different. I was drawn back on my own.

I danced, I listed to man sing with a bravado that would rival Pavarotti’s, and I downed 20-something plates and platters (seems unbelievable but I did, that’s the Tripa way). But what I loved most was what happened away from the dancefloor and took place at the ‘reception’ desk inside the tavern.

Spyros, the owner, let me in on a phone call he just had.

Jamie, let me tell you something. I get this call from this Greek conference of psychologists, and you know what they tell to me? They tell to me they want 200 seats at my tavern tomorrow night. Ok, no problem. I mean 200 seats, but sure. And then they tell to me this. 200 seats, but no music! No music?
No music they said, it’s against our oath. Come on I say to them, I am Greek, you are Greek! Who are you kidding!
But apparently it’s true. But I am Greek, my place, it must have music. To not have music, is out of the question. It needs life. Do I go to their conference and tell them how to run their business?No, no I don’t. And they won’t tell me how to run my restaurant.So, I told the musicians, no worry, come tomorrow, after 11 o’clock. Ha! Take that You conference of psychologists!
Plus, who doesn’t want music after 11 o’clock? Exactly. You want to come back and dance?

And this is why I can’t wait to go back to Taverna Tripa again. Because these are real people. They are a family and they have their own ideas about how things should be and they bring their guests into the mix. They share themselves with you. When you’re at Tripa you’re having an experience that is authenticity at its core.

That’s what keeps me coming back to this family business and it’s something you should consider too. Are you leveraging your strengths as a family? It’s one of your biggest assets and guests are coming back to see you, not just your business.

Let us know how you share your history, talk about your unique selling point and operate your family run hotel in the comments below or on Twitter.

Jamie Patterson

Jamie believes that playing host to guests from far and wide enriches the soul. Especially when it means having a full hotel. Born to entrepreneurial parents, she’s passionate about business growth. With a decade of traditional and digital marketing work behind her, she’s joined trivago to demystify metasearch and hotel marketing for you. One blog post at a time.

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