Travel concierge helps furniture buyers, designers

June 4 – HIGH POINT – Rob and Laurie Crawford visited High Point last week specifically to buy furniture – lots of furniture. They even set aside three days for it.

And they quickly realized that they bit off more than they could swallow, said Christina Payne from Visit High Point.

“Like most people, they heard that High Point is a great place to shop and find furniture,” she said. “They came and went and they immediately felt overwhelmed.”

Payne has often seen this kind of reaction. There are 56 furniture retail stores in the vicinity of High Point alone, and nearly 100 in the larger region.

Luckily for the Crawfords, who currently live in California but are building a home in Beaufort, South Carolina, their hotel had a Visit High Point brochure that has plenty of resources for furniture buyers. When the Crawfords checked their website, they found a link to Visit High Point’s “free concierge service” – that’s Payne.

Payne sat down with the Crawfords and built a three-day itinerary for them within half an hour.

“I helped them figure out which stores are best for them based on their needs — type of furniture, rooms in the house, style, budget, and how soon they need delivery,” she said. “They left relieved and ready to take on their project.”

Payne began working as the Visit High Point Business Development Manager in 2016. Her 22 years of experience in the furniture business, both retail and wholesale, made her a good fit for the part of the agency job that involves helping some of their prospective clients. 30,000 tourists and other visitors come to buy furniture every year, says Melody Burnett, president of Visit High Point.

But initially, this assistance did not include anything like the concierge services that Payne now provides. It developed gradually.

“I think because of my passion, it was natural for me to take the time to say, ‘Let’s sit down and plan our day,’” Payne said.

After some time, she and Burnett decided that this should become an official service offered by Visit High Point and launched it in April 2021.

For retail furniture buyers like the Crawfords, it’s not the same level of service as talking to one of the interior designers featured on the Visit High Point website, and no one will get access to showrooms that aren’t open to the public, but For shoppers who don’t want to be associated with a designer, this makes their shopping experience easier, Burnett says.

But Payne can also provide out-of-town interior designers unfamiliar with High Point with recommendations on all the showrooms available and what they offer. According to Burnett, this is a higher level of business that Visit High Point wants to develop.

Payne’s work “has become much more important than ever before,” Burnett said, and she hopes she can find someone else with the same knowledge and ability to expand services.

The service was getting about a dozen requests a month when it first came out…

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