Travel diary

The Crescent celebrates 25; gays pick Sydney as fave destination

SYDNEY TOPS | A recent study shows Sydney is an across-the-board fave destination among inter- national gay travelers. (Photo courtesy New Mardi Gras)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

The Rosewood Crescent Hotel celebrates its 25th year with some sweet deals that will make for a luxe vacation or staycation. The “25 Offers for 25 Years” includes specials throughout the hotel including The Spa at the Crescent, Beau’s Lounge, The Conservatory restaurant and even Starbucks. They celebrate with the original 1986 room rate of $100 and booking is now available through April 6, 2012. The hotel will book at this rate for select rooms for the upcoming July 4 and Labor Day weekends. CrescentCourt.com.

If your vacay requires major gay flair, read the Out Now Global LGBT2020 Study first. The study recently revealed the best spots around the world for LGBT tourism. The results are a culmination of information from six continents which help paint a picture of LGBT travelers and their destinations for the next three years.

“Out Now is delighted to be dramatically expanding the global knowledge base of tourism data with the LGBT2020 research study project,” said Out Now CEO Ian Johnson. “We sample in 10 languages and in 2011 we will reach people living in 25 countries around the world. There has never been an LGBT market research project with the scale and true global reach of LGBT2020.”
So which spots were tops?

New York ranked one for global travelers. London was a fave for Europeans, Australians and North Americans while South Americans favored Paris. But Sydney was a popular choice for all travelers. The U.S. narrowly beat out France as the top country to visit. To see the entire study, visit OutNowConsulting.com.

LGBT travelers can connect with others thanks to the new IGLTA Tripping Network. The social network encourages gay travelers to engage in conversation and “to make the world a better place through cultural exchange.”

Think of it as part Facebook, part Yelp, but with a personal touch. Travelers could connect with local gays for guiding them through neighborhoods, meeting up or even providing a spare room. The site also helps to connect with gay and gay-friendly businesses.

The network hasn’t forgotten safety concerns and protects travelers with the TripSafe Program which includes references, ratings, videos and emergency hotlines.

“This is all about facilitating cross-cultural connections and we’re excited to offer members of the LGBT community a safe way to connect with each other all around the globe,” says Jen O’Neal, Tripping.com’s cofounder and CEO. For more information, visit Tripping.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Letting it REGISTER • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Gift registries can be intimidating. Dean Driver makes them easy

FASHION. PLATE. | Dean Driver knows how to make a tabletop pop — and how to make it easy on you to choose your gifts. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BY RICH LOPEZ

Perhaps the one wedding tradition same-sex couples might waffle on is signing up for that beg-a-thon, the gift registry. Forget whether to do so (you should); the real question is, where can you find that particular china pattern you once saw in a magazine?

The answer to that question is probably Dean Driver. With his new company, Consilium Lifestyle Collections, Driver makes what could be a daunting (even intimidating) task for same-sex couples possibly the easiest  job out of all the wedding planning.

“I don’t know if the average gay couple feels comfortable going into stores,” Driver says. “They may, but many retailers just aren’t reaching out to gay couples.”

Teaming up with Consilium Creative Marketing, Driver created what may be the first by-appointment source of its kind in Dallas to provide a wedding gift registry for same-sex couples. While the services are for everyone, Driver believes that this personal touch can bring comfort to any gay newlyweds hesitant about how to sign up for gifts. It also gives them a home field advantage when looking for fine tabletop products and more.

“The way we do business is changing, and this has afforded me the ability to do in-home consultations and also wedding registries,” Driver says. “I come to the client with samples to get an idea of their lifestyle and suggest products and can see what will work with what’s already in the home.”

The affable Driver knows his stuff. After working with tabletop industries for years in large markets like New York, he has access to many luxury brands and even unique home products. The usual china and crystal items are no problem, but items like linens and household accessories are more easily available through him.

Driver’s first piece of advice on getting started with a registry: Don’t be intimidated.

“I demystify all that for you,” he says. “That’s what I’m here for. I’ll make it easier for you. And people shouldn’t think that everything offered in a registry costs so much. We do have some unique options that are moderately priced.”

Consilium has only been around for a few months, but it has burst out of the gate with a selection of up to 50 brands, some exclusive to them. And with Driver’s knowledge and background, he can pretty much get anybody anything they want.

“I’m a sort of an expert in tabletops, and I have my finger on the pulse of the industry,” he says. “I go to Paris, to Milan and see all the new patterns. And if you saw a plate in a magazine and brought it to me,  I could pinpoint what it is. When I say anything, I mean anything — and you may be only person in the country to have it.”

Something his company can guarantee is the death of that most dreaded wedding tradition: The return. Once items are selected for the registry, gift givers don’t have to worry about buying an item that’s already been purchased. Instead, the company does gift cards only, which are beautifully packaged for the giver to present.

“This prevents exchanges or duplicates,” he says. “Plus, clients may change their minds and gift cards give them an opportunity to get something else. And it’s a little more green without all that wrapping paper and shipping to worry about.”

Driver and company seems to have gotten rid of all the excuses couples can make to partake in registering for gifts. Being that a wedding is a life-changing event, Driver mostly wonders why not go all out?

“Couples shouldn’t shy away from getting nice things,” he says. “This is the one time to get the nice stuff, so why not? Anything you want, I can get.”

The only caveat — Driver encourages people to use the nice stuff everyday.

“Yeah, don’t pack it away in a cabinet like our parents did,” he says.

Of course, if there’s one thing gays know how to do it’s merchandise.

For more information, visit ConsiliumLifestyleCollections.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Defining Homes: Ask the Experts

As Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a number of other social networking sites are more and more prevalent in everyday life — professional and personal — we wondered whether the trend is effective as a marketing tool in the real estate industry as a marketing tool. Area agents put in their two cents worth on how the trend works, or doesn’t work, for them in their work.

Vice president of real estate services for Prudential, Steve Shatsky has presided over classes on the use of social networks in business. He discusses, at length, how the trend has worked for him and the strategies behind using the networks.

Now we’re just waiting for all of them to accept our friend requests.


Steve Habgood

Steve Habgood

Hewitt & Habgood Realty Group

Social networking is an important component of an overall marketing effort. It helps keep us connected with our friends, family and clients on a personal, individual level. We d

on’t use it to push all our new listings or open houses. It’s more of a pull marketing rather than push marketing effort. Brian Bleeker on our team is especially effective in using it to keep connected and informed about what’s going on in his circle of friends and clients.

Mike Grossman

Re/Max Urban

Social networking is not a tool to sell real estate in my opinion. It is an effective way to stay in “personal touch” with customers, clients, friends and acquaintances and to inform them of emerging trends, market conditions and updated information regarding real estate.

Jack Evans

Ellen Terry, a division of Ebby Halliday Real Estate

Just today, I received an invitation to join a new group: “Realtors on Facebook.” The purpose of the realtor group so far has been to let member Realtors know about new listings and buyer needs (looking for something that is not active on the market).

Bob McCranie

Texas Pride Realty

I have different fan pages for the 20 or so towns I work in. I advertise those pages and invite other people to put content on those pages. I get people who aren’t even friends to participate and solicit buyers and sellers.

Jere Becker

Jere Becker

Pinnacle Experts Group

For investment houses I am looking to sell or rent, I use it to market the property, especially now where there are so many buyers looking for seller financing and don’t use the services of a Realtor. Video is going to be the preferred medium for viewing properties and the link is easy to put into social media.

To find clients who want to sell, I use it to market my services. Also, real estate is evolving into a consulting business where my clients pay only for the services they want.

Steve Shatsky

Steve Shatsky

Prudential Texas Properties

Social networking is not a “new” tool. Agents on the cutting edge in building business and effectively marketing their clients’ properties have been using it for several years now. In fact, any agent today who does not have a social networking strategy as part of both his/her business and marketing plans is missing a critical component.

I have been successfully using Facebook to create visibility for listings and draw attention to open houses. I have also used Facebook to connect with and strengthen my relationships with clients. Real estate is a business of relationships and Facebook allows me to communicate and get to know my clients even better, while it allows them to get to know me better, as well.

My Dallasism.com blog has served multiple purposes. It has provided a search engine optimized platform to promote my listings to prospective buyers searching for homes on the Internet. It also allows me to provide monthly market reports for all the Turtle Creek highrises to prospective buyers and sellers searching for information on the Internet.

Dallasism.com has introduced new clients to me and my market expertise in the Turtle Creek area.

Lastly, I have blogged and been an ambassador for ActiveRain (an international real estate networking and blogging website) for more than three years. My blogging as a member of the ActiveRain community has allowed me to develop relationships and a nationwide network of real estate agents who refer business to me and with whom I network to share marketing and business ideas. This has been invaluable, allowing me to gain insight into new trends and innovative technologies, giving me a competitive advantage over agents whose networking is confined to only a local level.

Shatsky is vice president of real estate services, Dallas office manager for Prudential Texas Properties. He has recently taught classes on the use of blogging and Facebook in real estate at several locations across the DFW area for the MetroTex Association of Realtors. He was a panelist on the topic of real estate blogging for ActiveRain at their RainCamp-Charlotte event last fall, and will be speaking on a panel covering the topic of short sales at the Prudential Real Estate sales convention in San Diego in March.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright