By: Liz Christoffersen , Founder & CEO
As a featured, keynote speaker for the 10th Annual Who’s Who In Luxury Real Estate Spring Retreat, I enjoyed a recent visit to New Orleans. The event was attended by real estate professionals from around the globe who serve affluent, luxury, lifestyle clients and was held at the Omni Royal Orleans. This beautiful hotel is in the heart of the French Quarter with convenient walking distance to all the captivating sights and sounds of the city. If you have a chance to visit, be sure to head up to the rooftop pool and patio. It offers a spectacular perspective of the city.
Our first morning there, we had the pleasure of enjoying beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde with Stefanie Hostetter of The Social Host. Always packed no matter what time of day, we were lucky to snag a table on the patio so we could people watch. After our refreshments, we walked through the city, exploring the various shops and the French Market.
We especially enjoyed the presentation of the unique finds at Pop Cityand their sister store Funrockn. What makes these stores special is they offer items made and found only in New Orleans. This is not your typical tourist gift shop. Everything in these shops is created by true artisans. We did not make it to their newest venture To The Nines which specializes in clothing. For every dress or skirt purchased at To The Nines, a school uniform is donated to girls in need in Africa. I loved that their mission is to create change and empower women through education.
At the French market, we met a promising, up and coming artist Vinsantos. He does some amazing things with “junk” found on the streets. His one of a kind, unique pieces tell a story. The detail and care with which he creates these treasures is inspiring.
One can’t visit New Orleans without enjoying a fine Creole meal in a beautiful outdoor setting. We chose The Court of Two Sisters to deliver such an experience. As you make your way from Rue Royale through the gates of this vintage site, you arrive at a lively scene of dining al fresco. I loved the shrimp en brochette and of course to satisfy my sweet tooth finished my meal with bananas foster.
Make It Right
The heart of my experience in New Orleans was the afternoon we volunteered at Make It Right. The story we were told about Hurricane Katrina, the 9th Ward and the work of the Make It Right organization had a profound impact on me.
Hearing the story and doing the volunteer work that day reminded me of the luxuries in life we all take for granted like having a home and the security it provides, the rich relationships of family and friends, building community through faith, culture and tradition.
Rebuilding this part of New Orleans has been no easy task. The brightest and the best minds have lent their expertise to re-create an important part of this vibrant community. The program they have developed is so much more than re-building what was there. They have integrated a process to educate the homeowners who will be a part of the community and help them become invested citizens in their community’s future.
The dream of Make It Right is to be a catalyst for redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward, by building a neighborhood comprised of safe and healthy homes that are inspired by Cradle to Cradle thinking while preserving the community’s culture. They understand the power and luxury of home ownership along with the importance of culture and community.
We soft launched our new luxury training program Luxepertise at this conference. We shared our preliminary work “Expand Your Luxury Business from the Inside Out” and “The Luxury Leader.” Our goal is to provide professionals in the luxury industry with a learning program that helps them to better understand the concept of luxury from their client’s perspective. Through the 8 week program, we guide them to innovate in a way that shifts the culture of the business back to client service levels that exceed expectations.
Participants leave with an understanding of how the affluent think about and make buying decisions, how to create the right sales environment for attracting affluent clients, how to distinguish their luxury brand from others in the market and how to position their product or service as the premier choice resulting in more sales.
The program was developed from our team’s years of experience serving companies globally whose business is serving affluent, luxury, lifestyle clients. Leveraging the power of coaching enables participants to move from learning to action and to accelerate business results.
Delivery of this modular program enables us to tailor it to meet the needs and budget of our clients. Modules include lessons geared toward real estate brokerage, development, hospitality, travel and tourism. Additionally the modules can be customized for professionals in sales, customer experience, leadership, marketing and social media. The online version will provide a self-paced format, be available round the clock and is scheduled to deploy in the fall of 2012.
With a high level of interest from participants around the globe, translations in other languages are in the works.
Re-defining luxury and the luxury experience has been a big part of our work as the global economy and markets have been challenged. For me, the greatest luxury in attending and presenting at these events is not about the client work that comes. It really is about the rich relationships, the learning that takes place, celebrating with people who share a commitment to raising the standard of excellence and giving back to the communities we serve.
Connect with Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org