Bespoke Concierge – London
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￼During the last decade, as the rich have got even richer and their number has swelled, there has been an increase in the quantity of concierge-style services dedicated to the wealthy. There are services that manage their social lives or their homes. There are services that give them more time – or suggest what they could do with that time and therefore help to make their lives more exciting.
Bespoke Concierge London
Bespoke Concierge London – Bespoke Bureau
Redefining luxury Concierge-style service is redefining luxury by placing service at the heart of consumers’ experiences with luxury brands. For today’s high- net-worth consumer it’s less about consumption. Providing people with excellent customer service is a fantastic way of reaching out to them and creating great advocates for your product or services.’
Bespoke Bureau operate a ‘whatever/whenever’ concierge service. As long as it’s legal, we are able to cope with any request clients can think of. sals concierges for guests who want to pop the question with panache. And New York’s Roosevelt Hotel has a concierge who suggests the best places to find romance in NYC. Last, but by no means least, there is an aquarium concierge at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, a few blocks away from the largest aquarium in the world. Holiday homes for the UHNWI market are also now offering concierge services. It’s like having a holiday rep at home – only much better and more personal.
Companies offering this include Exclusive Resorts, Villa Hotels (a management firm that aims to bring ‘the five-star hotel experience’ to their private residences), and Quintess. Co-founder of Quintess Ben Addoms says that his club’s members will notice incremental improvements in service. ‘Every time somebody travels, we learn more about them. When you’ve gone with us once, you don’t have to tell us again that your kids are allergic to gluten.’ High-style high-rise New homes aimed at the UHNWI market are now offering concierge services as standard.
Now it’s commonplace to have a dog concierge to look after your dog when you’re away, or take your pooch to the hairdresser. The cynic might say that services such as these are just jumping on the concierge-culture bandwagon. But the semantic shift from ‘walker’ to ‘concierge’ indicates a deeper, more dedicated level of service and attention to detail. According to Cygelman, the future will bring a mixture of technology and personal service. Technology is paramount at the Plaza Hotel, New York, which is being converted into a block of luxury condos. Each unit has an automated system with a touch screen created by Concierge Direct, from which residents can pick, choose and order flowers, goods from the pharmacy, or perhaps ask to have their dry cleaning done. Technology won’t replace face-to-face interaction, Cygelman says, because some segments of the UHNWI market will be less comfortable with the impersonality of technology than others. And the list of providers will always be hand-picked. One other aspect of the usefulness of concierge services for the new-build residential market is that, as Cygelman points out, the owner may have handed over millions of dollars, but he won’t be able to move in for some years. When a concierge company is involved he immediately has some kind of connection with the property. ￼
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￼A flying start The private-jet market is now targeting UHNWIs with lifestyle management. Sentient built its brand on its concierge services, according to DeeDee Morrison, founder of New York-based Private Air Magazine. Card holders attend private parties with celebrities and receive tickets to the Masters. NetJets, she says, is renowned for ‘the best concierge services in the industry,’ while XJet has ‘wine bars, saunas and private hangars for members only.’ That will do nicely The granddaddy of travel related concierge services, the invitation-only American Express Centurion Card, also known as ‘the Black Card’, we forget, was launched as far back in October 1999. For an annual fee (£650 per year in the UK) members have 24/7 access to the Amex concierge team, made up of 200 customer-service experts with diverse backgrounds as anything from travel agents to personal assistants. Users can have private jets chartered for them or indulge in out-of-hours shopping trips to Harrods or Saks Fifth Avenue. Unusual requests the team has dealt with include arranging for an English-speaking parrot to accompany a card member on a trip to Russia and having a diver drag a treasure chest containing an engagement ring on to a Mexican beach while the member walked nearby with his intended. The allure of the Black Card is Amex’s ability to use its global purchasing power and contacts to satisfy its members’ desires.
But for the discerning, or indeed the ultra-rich, he says, concierge services are increasingly becoming lifestyle or in some cases ‘fantasy’ brokers, being brought in to help clients, to boldly go where no client has gone before. Brands like Quintessentially, Bluefish, or Ten, are already taking us along this route. ￼THE :
Services range from finding babysitters to arranging dance lessons to extreme travel arrangements – such as a candlelit dinner in a temple in the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia, after the ruins are closed to the public. The success of the company is partly due to its policy of operating franchises, which means that members always get specialist local knowledge.
However, once in, members tend to stay. Sherrard says her renewal rates in Asia are 90-95%. There were just four members of staff there in 2005 and now there are 20. Quintessentially also provides white-label concierge services for companies such as Dunhill and Cartier. This year, the company has begun to use its specific expertise to create spin-offs from its core business. ‘It is leveraging its brand positioning in a similar way to Virgin,’ notes Guy Salter, deputy chairman of the Walpole Group.
There are now Quintessentially Wines, Estates, Driven (a limo service) and Escape (a travel service). Qu
Our Bespoke Concierge Membership Ethos
Bespoke believes more than the current level – 500 members in the UK – would dilute the exclusivity of the personal and exclusive service that we offer.
“It’s a bit like having a best friends in every country” Sara Vestin Rahmani – Founder of Bespoke Bureau
For us, the way to expand is to franchise the offering into more territories, The company’s focus is on emerging markets in the Middle and Far East. We think it’s best to let local people who know the local system market do the ground work.
Because our clients trust us, we are being asked to do more and more for them – and not all to do with financial advice. Both these companies offer buy: time’s services as a way of ensuring their clients are looked after.
Her company of 15 lifestyle managers, all women, helps hundreds to manage their lives. It’s like sharing a personal assistant: buy:time offers flexible levels of service on a pay-as-you-go model (fees are between £29 and £45 per hour), and will do anything from running the London office of a Monaco-based entrepreneur to getting a client’s car back after it has been clamped. The company also works with other exclusive concierge companies across the globe depending on who is best in the particular area in question. Sort of like a concierge broking firm.
Bespoke Bureau has a a vast network of contacts throughout London and beyond, plus existing relationships with HNWIs. They handle 2,600 individual clients and also manage corporate accounts for 5 star hotels, private banks and travel companies.
As well as HNWIs and other individuals, Conciant works for corporates, buildings, hotels and cruise ships (such as the new Four Seasons ship launching in 2010) as a customer-loyalty service. Fees range from $3.5k for the basic individual service, available 8am-8pm in your local time, and upwards of $24k for the 24/7 service. Small companies with regional expertise, who act as concierges for local people and as well- connected travel guides for visitors, are springing up.
Examples include Serena Cook’s Deliciously Sorted in Ibiza. Tatler commented: ‘for a visit to the island of Ibiza, make sure the telephone number of Serena Cook is tattooed on your arm.’ Another is Deluxe, a lifestyle concierge agency set up by 24-year-old socialite Maret Soom in Tallinn, Estonia. ‘We work on an hourly fee basis as lawyers do. The fee is 2,000 EEK per hour – about £86.’ In Asia, the six employees of Luxury Concierge China, set up in 2005, look after 75 CEOs and celebrities as well as visitors to Shanghai. Household managers The home is another area where dull and distracting chores are increasingly being outsourced. Strictly speaking, lifestyle managers in this field shouldn’t be called concierges but ‘household managers’. ‘A butler looks after what’s inside your home, a concierge looks after everything outside your home,’ says Robert Watson, director of the Guild of Professional English Butlers. The guild’s trainees work at the Bellagio
All brands are now developing a concierge service. Neiman Marcus, for example, provides this – though [it] is nothing new. It’s just the wording that has changed.’ Another instance of this is Xexoo, makers of seriously swanky iPod upgrades that will set you back upwards of £30k, which offers a 24/7 concierge service. On closer examination, this is just a helpline. But although ‘boutique’ has lost its special meaning within the hotel industry, the concept has revolutionised people’s expectations in terms of design and functionality within hospitality. The same will happen with service. Take Topshop, that ultimate follower of fashion. Its concierge service, launched in 2006, is partly a rebrand of the 40-strong style-assistant team as well as a pared-down, high-street concierge service. When The Future Laboratory called in to ask if a particular exhibition in London was open late, the information was found – after some searching. But as more luxury brands offer services that help customers avoid the quotidian, the dull and the distracting, what’s the next level of service luxury brands can offer? Milton Pedraza at the
Bespoke Concierge London – Lifestyle management with flair
‘We help in business and personal life – after all, where one ends and the other begins is becoming increasingly skewed.’ The company is aimed squarely at UHNWIs, providing them with one point of contact for their business and personal requests – whether they want a lawyer, an accountant, a corporate trainer, a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town or a party to be arranged at the Monaco Grand Prix with live music from Wyclef Jean, Jay-Z and Bono. ￼
Bespoke Concierge London – what sets us apart?
One thing that sets Bespoke Concierge London apart is that, although it has a raft of contacts, it doesn’t claim to know all the answers. But it does promise to handle each client request with the competence of experienced project managers. It is this aspect that appeals to Guy Salter, deputy chairman of the Walpole Group. ‘Having high-quality brains taking a McKinsey-style approach to your personal and business life sounds a very appealing idea.’ Launched in late 2004, Quincy Consulting Group is currently, enabling 28 clients to focus on the most valuable use of their time. Fees are from $25k per year. So what sort of concierge service should your brand offer? Well for one, brands should be aware of differences in expectation that stem from their target market’s gender, age, wealth-stage and culture. For example, it is worthy of note that the majority of the concierge companies dedicated to removal of the dull and distracting have been established by women. And, referring to cultural differences, Quintessentially’s Emma Sherrard points out that, in Asia, where people aren’t used to paying for service, there is extra pressure on her staff to ‘deliver on every request. There are very high expectations in this part of the world.’ According to Sophy Roberts, editor-at-large of American Express’s Departures magazine, the rise of personalised concierge services is down to ‘the de- personalisation of our existence. Concierge seems to put a live human face back into the equation.’ Yaffa Assouline concurs:
‘I believe personal concierges have the greatest knowledge and experience of what is true service.’ So good concierge brands need very good and very ‘visible’ people behind them, and fronting them. And nowhere should this be more the case than in the world of luxury. A report produced by Guy Salter and innovations consultancy IDEO titled ‘Has luxury become a one-night stand?’ criticises luxury companies for not taking long-term relationships with their customers seriously enough. Concierge services are an ideal way of making luxury more than just a passing fling. As Salter says: ‘The really engaging thing is that if you get this right you really can develop the most valuable thing: a real relationship with the customer.’ And such a relationship could be the key to opening the UHNWI door. As John Saunders,
Bespoke Concierge London – Service at heart
This, she believes, is the crux of the matter, and we agree. It should be the mantra of any brand or a business that wants to place ‘service’ at its very core.
Yes, you need to respond to the customer’s five wants: ‘I WANT what I WANT, when I WANT it, and I WANT that and I WANT it now’, but you have to do so in a detailed, meticulous, comprehensive and methodical way. In short, you can’t afford not to know what you cannot possibly know, as Ben Elliot of Quintessentially tells us. And this, along with Mary Louise Starkey’s exhortation that when it comes to service, detail is all, sums up the golden rule of concierge culture for the 21st century. After that, all else is, well, detail. And more detail. And this is where most retail brands, especially in the luxury sector, fall down on their promises: lack of detail, lack of client checks and balances, and a more noticeable lack of follow-through.
Regarding the five wants, for most brands it is decidedly a case of ‘WE will give you what WE want, when WE want to give it, WE only want to give it when WE are ready to do so, and only between nine and five’. A simplification, yes, but how many brands provide a 24/7 service of the calibre conceived by Ten UK or Quintessentially, or the service provided by Mrs Starkey for her clients at the Paris Ritz or the White House? How many even provide a fraction of this? More to the point, how many of us see service as a core, non-negotiable plank of our strategy and pledge to our customer, rather than one that is a ‘value-added’ extra to be shifted at will? The rules, we believe, are simple and very much a part of those brands we are familiar with and like: the Caprice Group, Aman resorts, the Colombe d’Or in St Paul de Vence, Soho House in New York, the Ritz in Paris (but not in London), the Cipriani in Venice, Virgin Upper Class, first class on BA, Bergdorf in New York, the Merrion in Dublin and so on. Here we find first-name service that is friendly but not familiar; knowledgeable but never knowing; exclusive, but never exclusory; insightful but not intrusive; exemplary but never explanatory. At no point should any detail of a person’s needs, wants or peccadilloes be ignored – or, indeed, filed. The best maitre d’s rely on memory, not their BlackBerry; the best concierges, if they have a little black book, use it to illuminate your day or night, not merely to recall who you are or what you do. Only hire people who are trained never to turn their back on their audience when speaking; an old theatre trick, more applicable than ever in retail and hospitality. They should know who they are speaking to; and, if meeting for the first time, then asking is certainly the best and most memorable way achieve this. They should understand the nature of the need and how they are about to solve the problem being proffered to them; it is always good to use the head waiter’s trick of repeating the order to ensure that all aspects are understood. And, wherever possible, they should allow the story of the solution to be seen. Danny Meyer is the owner of some of the most popular restaurants in the US, including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Tabla, Eleven Madison Park and the Modern. According to Meyer, making this a key part of his strategy to deal with customers concerns significantly boosted their satisfaction with his staff’s responses.
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