Vikas Gupta speaks about concierge services who pride themselves in fulfilling some of the weirdest feats of their clients.
“Hello, can you close the entire Sydney Harbor Bridge for me, I want to propose my partner”
“Hi, can you arrange a romantic meal for me on an ice berg with my partner”
“Hello, I want to gift my son a racquet signed by tennis player Roger Federer himself”
“I am in Japan and I having a craving for Indian food, can you please arrange”
These are just a few extravagant requests fulfilled at Quintessentially, an elite luxury lifestyle group that provides 24X7and 365 days concierge services to its ultra rich private members.
You might recall, calling the concierge desk at a hotel to guide you about the places around or may be book a cab. How about a concierge with a genie who truly believes in “your wish is my command”. They pride themselves in fulfilling some of the weirdest feats of their clients like
“I always dreamt to get married on the great wall of China”
“I am in Switzerland and I feel like having alphonso mangoes, please arrange”
“I am a big fan of movie Hachiko, I want the rare twin Japanese Shiba-Inu puppies”
“I know it’s a Chinese restaurant, but I want Punjabi Lassi”
“Can you call my favorite Bollywood actor to my child’s wedding?”
Of course, such larger than life services do not come cheap and only celebrities, royalty, VIPs, entrepreneurs and business leaders can afford them for example, Quintessentially having offices in 60 cities around the world charge around Rs 3 lakhs per year for their services. This amount is for their assistance only and the members are billed expenses for each request at actuals. You can have 1 to 3 managers to handling your affairs. Globetrotters can be assured of a manager in every country if the needs do arise. Vertu mobiles, which have a special button to instantly connect you to your lifestyle manager, this piece of technology in itself costs around $10,000 dollars (Rs 6.5 lakhs) which includes one years free subscription of the concierge services.
Enhance Your Life (EYL) a homegrown Indian concierge company based out of Gurgaon charges Rs 90,000 – Rs 1.2 lakhs for their services. American Express offers platinum card for Rs 50,000 which includes “do anything” concierge services which provides various benefits like booking tickets, special events, airport lounges and so on. Club concierge is a Bengaluru-based firm having presence in more than 22 cities offer only community based packages for its uber class clients ranging from Rs 1 to Rs 4 lakhs.
While the cost might seem eye-popping, but equal
ly justified are the services. The trained Lifestyle managers study the request behavior of each member with their likes, dislikes, spending pattern, and accordingly recommend a solution for each request. Moreover the members get access to privileged club and networking events only for members. For example: Members have access to thousands of benefits and privileges with the best hotels, restaurants, clubs, spas, luxury products and practical services across the globe. The members also get access to events like Tomorrowland Music Festival, F1 action in Monaca, Red carpets of Cannes, or a star studded Broadway production. Indian members usually request for vintage wines, Michelin star chefs, match tickets, and front row seats for Indian fashion shows, Filmfare awards passes and so on. As one satisfied client wrote testimonial for Club Concierge: Nitya Mohan quotes “In a world of automated call centers, long queues and complicated self-service options, Club Concierge has set a new standard for personalized, curated and highly value global customer service beyond expectations…”
Since there is no MRP for these often customized request, when asked what if the members are not happy with the charges, Mishti Bose, Group CEO at Quintessentially replied, “While living a globe-trotting lifestyle, the Indian HNI clients culturally have an inherent need to seek “value for money” more so than other global peers. Rightly so! At Quintessentially Lifestyle, we give our members the best possible options for each request placed and a transaction is made with the member’s full consent.”
Despite all the fuss, in a country like India, where jugaad seems inherently inculcated, does a market essentially exist? And moreover is it thriving? One of the suppliers of mobiles-cum-concierge companies informed us on the condition of anonymity, “Most of their customers who avail for free concierge service in the first year are frequent foreign travellers as such services are more available and demanded in USA and European markets. Although this market is growing and evolving, many of the customers do not take up the concierge services by paying Rs 3 lakhs per year in the subsequent years.” Another former customer, Raviraj Kulkarni says, “People take up concierge services as they are experiences that the general public struggle to get. I requested for last minute reservation in Dubai, which was very efficiently managed, and the similar requests in Mumbai or New Delhi were not fulfilled. I discontinued the service after a year.”
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Many of the traditional concierge services like bookings, suggestions and so on are replaced with Google, Siri, Android Assist and thousand of websites and start ups to solve your problems, but the technology can only come this far. According to Vivek Chadha from EYL, “What distinguishes us is that these websites and start ups, are aggregators and they do not take responsibility.” These personalized lifestyle services are less to do with securing the more mundane routine requests, and, more to do with achieving something exquisite, bespoke, and, tailored to your fancy and of course expense!