Lifestyle, Lifestyle features|October 7, 2011 08:36

At your service

Can’t find time to book a break? Need VIP tickets for the theatre? Let the concierge take care of it

There are times in everyone’s lives when it seems only a magic wand will make the many small but significant jobs disappear. Whether because of a busy professional life, or a hectic social calendar, most of us find ourselves constantly playing a game of catch up with our life admin.

The concierge service is a very modern answer to the fairytale wand. It effectively runs the lives of high net worth individuals, helping them with the things they don’t have the time, inclination or expertise to do themselves. In essence, concierge services free up their clients’ time so they can spend their free time getting on with their life, rather than organising it.

‘We undertake any tasks for our international clients as long as their requests are morally and legally sound’ says Katie Shapley of The Organisers, a company that was one of the first on of its kind when it was established in 1998.

‘We prefer to think of ourselves as a team of expert personal assistants for the home, and are billed as a ‘private office’, says Shapley. ‘We work for a number of family offices and offer the ‘soft skills’ catering to the family’s leisure and home environment.’

As standard a concierge service advises on holidays, recommends and books restaurants, bars and clubs, finds tickets to the theatre or for a sold out concert. They’ll also do the less glamorous everyday tasks to help life run more smoothly.

Each organisation takes a slightly different approach, with some offering services that others don’t.

Quintessentially, for example, has a gifts service which sources luxury retail items at short notice. They put together gift ideas, buy them, and wrap and deliver them – useful all year round and particularly at Christmas.

Elsewhere, The Organisers offer a property management service, which takes in weekly house visits, compiling a report for each property, making the client aware of any issues which need attention. They also manage small maintenance issues, as well as overseeing building projects.

‘A large part of our business is property management’ says Katie Shapley. ‘We look after clients houses whilst they are away, managing everything from the weekly post to dealing with small refurbishments and huge building projects.

‘It’s not unusual for us to receive a set of keys in the post with a note from a client telling us to call a particular property agent and sort it out.’ Sorting it out in this case can mean anything from stocking the property for use, filling the fridge, or a building or interior design project.

As the market grows and competition increases, the lifestyle management organisations have to find new and innovative ways to attract new business and meet customer demands.

Next year Quintessentially is launching Quintessentially One, a floating members club aboard a 220m yacht.

Says Alex Pakenham: ‘It will have12 luxury permanent residences, a 250-room deluxe hotel, a fine dining restaurant, bars, nightclub, shopping, spas and sun decks.’ The yacht will travel the world to some of the most exclusive destinations and events. Later this year the organisation is launching Quintessentially People, a high-end and elite recruitment service, finding the right teams to support the world’s most high-profile individuals.

Similarly BonVivant is looking to expand into corporate services. ‘Large companies, SMEs and groups use us to reward employees, increase productivity and to reward customer loyalty’ says Emyr Thomas.

‘We’re also planning on targeting short-term visitors to London as we believe our services are ideal for them. We can plan their trip and give them access to an insider’s view of the city’.

The potential for the market to grow in the next few years is real. Despite the economy’s sluggish growth, high net worth individual will still hanker for the best in life, which is something the concierge service has to offer.

Equally, the need to balance life and work carefully will remain. Concierge services are perfectly positioned to help.


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