Luxury Institute event says engage travellers

For the second year, luxury market leaders and experts in finance, travel, yachting, jewelry and fashion assembled in New York City at the “invitation-only” Ritz-Carlton Leaders in Luxury event to discuss trends, innovations and challenges. Companies that serve the high net worth consumer, including: AIG Private Client Group, Bessemer Trust, Camper & Nicholsons, La Prairie, Louis Vuitton North America, Mercedes Benz USA, Prudential Douglas Elliman, The Napa Valley Reserve, Ritz-Carlton, The Rodriguez Group, Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism & Sports at New York University, and Tourneau, were represented. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company hosted the full day program at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park.

The Ritz Conference was a one-of-a-kind event in several ways: First, this year Simon Cooper, COO and President of the Ritz-Carlton, asked Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, to facilitate the meeting and create an ambience of candid dialogue.

Second, the event included two major luxury industry research initiatives that were presented exclusively to attendees in advance of publication. These included a session featuring the Luxury Institute’s “Enhancing the Customer Experience of the Wealthy 2006” best practices survey, and a presentation on “How to Grow A Luxury Brand Successfully,” by Dr. Mergen Reddy. Guests received a unique introduction to Prediction Markets from James Surowiecki, author of “The Wisdom of Crowds” and Emile Servan-Schreiber, CEO of NewsFutures. Each presentation was followed by candid, off-the-record dialogue.

“We generated an atmosphere of fun and learning using interactive, real-time polling technology, where executives predicted the results of our best practices survey,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute.

“The differences in perceptions between executives and wealthy clients underscored the need for executives to engage their clients in implementing best practices. For example, none of the executives present predicted the Internet as the preferred wealthy consumer channel when buying luxury products. However, 38% of wealthy consumers voted it the number one preferred channel, followed by face-to-face (33%) and telephone (19%).”

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“In another unique experiential module, executives took the role of clients by relating their best recent, luxury experiences. The vivid storytelling and emotional tone dramatized for luxury executives the impact that each great customer experience can have on brand equity,” said Pedraza.

“Consumers are far more savvy about true luxury today. Although the market has seen a shift towards mass luxury, exclusive brands that celebrate and build on their rich pedigrees continue to flourish. It is not only healthy, but, refreshing, to take a day to reflect on successes and talk openly with colleagues about growth within the luxury marketplace. We very much enjoyed the Second Ritz-Carlton Luxury Conference and look forward to our next session in 2007,” said Simon Cooper, president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.
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