This summer we’re looking at the state of the luxury agent and broker in today’s increasingly complex real estate market. In October, we’ll gather in Beverly Hills at Luxury Connect to share best practices, network and create a blueprint for the luxury agent/broker of tomorrow. Don’t miss it.
When I decided to write about this particular topic, I chose to ignore all my previous event-marketing experience so that I could focus exclusively on what agents had to say.
I had the opportunity to speak to four leading luxury agents from across the nation who graciously accepted to share their wisdom.
The one thing they all fervently agreed on was that adding value is crucial for a successful event — and marketing and exclusivity weren’t far behind for most.
Kimberly Casey, associate broker at Washington Fine Properties, believes that clients primarily want to have a good time. Her yearly fall event, Cocktails & Crustaceans, has become extremely popular, to the point that past clients beg to stay on the invitation list.
But it isn’t all fun and games; some of her events are educational roundtables. No matter what type of event she is putting on, you can be sure it will be meaningful. There is no shortage of events in the Washington D.C. area, so if clients aren’t getting something of value, they’ll just go elsewhere.
Disen Cai, of Disen Cai Real Estate Group in California, also puts emphasis on the importance of hosting educationally driven events. He states frankly that if there is no value provided to the client, no one will come.
Aside from offering clients an opportunity to learn something, Cai is known to be quite flexible and often changes up his client appreciation events to accommodate clients, including opening up beautiful luxury homes for touring. He also collaborates with local and international charities alike; an event with a cause is appealing to all his clients.
Charity events appear to be a big hit in the luxury market. Shyra Holmes of Luxury Holmes Texas relies deeply on charity-focused events. Her clients’ passion for giving back to the community tends to draw a crowd.
3. Think outside the box
Holmes also takes advantage of anything that is trending in the area and uses it as a tool to add value to her events. Even if she was not planning on hosting an event, she manages to make one around trending art or a hot new local chef. It always ends up being a stellar event in which clients can sample the hottest new dishes or meet the most sought-after artists in the region.
Glamorous charitable events also work for Miami Beach-based luxury agent, Nancy Batchelor. But she doesn’t rely only on charitable causes to make events worthwhile. She’s got a few other ways to add value: drawings for rewards, fun contests to get all attendees involved, professional family photos taken during an event and even chartering boats to explore the waters surrounding her exclusive properties.
Educational events are also on her even rotation, but she prefers more out-of-the-box ideas to get people excited and hope that they find value in all the activities available onsite. Her clients are very busy, therefore if she can help them get their photos for the Christmas cards out of the way while attending a fun event, she’s secured an RSVP.
1. Impressive PR and advertising
I was surprised to hear that marketing plays an incredibly significant role in getting clients begging to attend an event.
Holmes goes as far as to get PR coverage for her events, but it doesn’t stop there: she makes sure that her events are shared on select social media groups and community flyers. In her growing metro area, clients are happy to get involved, which doesn’t hurt.
In more competitive landscapes like the Miami Beach home market, Batchelor finds that it’s much more difficult to get people to leave their luxury estates, so she relies on massive amounts of advertising. She knows that because it’s so hard to get people to come to an event, a good turn out will require three times the advertisement she once produced.
2. Make it personal
Cai puts in a lot of time to get clients to appreciation events and other parties. Prior to sending out an online invitation, he calls every single perspective attendee on the phone. According to him, this personal approach makes all the difference in getting people to attend.
For Casey, marketing is a tool to help her build relationships, and those relationships are the driving force behind her successful events.
That isn’t to say that she doesn’t directly market the events. She does. She reaches out to clients via personal phone calls, personalized email invitations and personalized mailed invitations.
However, she believes that if it were not for her close personal relationships, these reminders would seem anonymous, and therefore unfruitful.
It is Casey’s understanding that real relationships are the cornerstone of everything she does, and when she connects with people often, those people are more likely to engage with her and her team.
She maintains the strong bonds of her client relationships via events, handwritten letters, constant communication and several other touch points. She also made it a point to mention that she maintains updated contact lists.
If everyone is special, then no one is special. This is a key concept that plays a role in creating must-attend events. Invitation-only events are much more likely to have a long waiting list than those that are open for all.
Being very selective helps Cai not only to create an unattainable urge, but also ensures that only the right people are in attendance.
The networking opportunities at his events are priceless because of their private nature. This factor of exclusivity adds value for guests, but most importantly it places his events under a more elite category.
When it comes to luxury events, exclusivity is paramount. That’s the reason why Holmes organizes all her events by invitation only. This unique privilege is the cause of the anticipation surrounding her events; everyone hopes to make her list.
If the events aren’t exclusive, her target won’t care to network and attendance will suffer. While she typically only hosts four to six events a year, they are talked about long after.
A successful luxury event can’t just be thrown together — it takes careful planning, the right connections, proper marketing and a certain level of exclusivity.
Thinking of bringing your team to Luxury Connect? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy those tickets together too. Just contact us to find out more.
Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a full-service marketing agency specializing in lifestyle and creative real estate marketing. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.