Courtesy of Stacey Gordon
Quintessentially, a luxury personal concierge service, was launched in London in December 2000.The company’s founders, Aaron Simpson, Paul Drummond, and Ben Elliot (fun fact: he’s the nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall), have since expanded into 63 cities with a network of 1,500 employees worldwide.
In addition, Quintessentially boasts a portfolio of 33 sister businesses, including an art advisory service and a bespoke luxury experience company, to cater to clients’ needs.
But what exactly is a personal concierge service? And why would people want to use one? We spoke with Stacey Gordon, director of business development and communications at Quintessentially, about the company and its deep network of global connections.
Below is our conversation, edited for clarity:
What is Quintessentially?
Quintessentially is a personal concierge service which basically takes care of the needs of individual private members. Those private members purchase annual memberships which are divided into three different levels: the general level, which is a reactive service where you write in to a team of lifestyle experts and place a request and they fulfil that request. The next level up is the dedicated level, which is more of a personalised proactive service where not only are we filling your requests on a reactive level, we are also reaching out to you proactively based on your profile and your preferences.
The next level up is elite, where you have up to four account managers around the world. These are our most experienced account managers that have been with Quintessentially the longest. And they really are working with our members’ personal and executive assistants to run their second homes, to plan their family trips, to do personal shopping, to buy gifts for their staff, et cetera. It’s a hands-on level of service where the answer is really never no.
And the personal concierge is basically taking care of anything from restaurant reservations to hotel bookings to travel itineraries to fitness; anything that would fall under a lifestyle request.
Membership costs range from $1,500 per person, per year for a general membership, to $45,000 per person, per year for the global elite membership.
Do you have any famous clients?
Unfortunately, we’re a private members club. All of our membership details are private, and that’s what we pride ourselves on.
What’s the difference between a personal assistant and a personal concierge?
The difference is that we have over 63 offices worldwide with 33 sister companies underneath the Quintessentially umbrella. As a personal assistant, you are one person working for your boss. Basically, you don’t have our global network to rely on, you don’t have our experts to rely on; if you need a restaruant reservation at Babbo next Wednesday night, you might have a connection there, but we guarantee that we have the connection, and if that reservation is available, it will go to a Quintessentially member.
It’s the same with nightclubs; we know the doormen, we know how to get our members in; we’ll have our nightlife specialist walk you in, make sure that there are no issues. It’s really about the network behind the member assistant that the personal assistant wouldn’t have.
Photo: Courtesy of Stacey Gordon
How is business these days?
Business this year has been better. I’ve been here for three and a half years and this year has been our best year. Our individual sales are up, our corporate sales are at an all-time high, our renewals are pretty amazing despite the economy, and things are looking up. There wasn’t a lot of corporate movement two years ago. However, within the past year, there have been a lot of inquiries picking up and a lot of deals closing for us.
So what kind of clients do you get?
It’s a broad spectrum, and it’s basically dependent on whether you are fit for Quintessentially or not. Just because you can pay for a membership doesn’t mean that you’re the right fit. It’s normally people that really like the best things in life, but also don’t have time or knowledge or the network to experience it. Our biggest thing that we do for our members is saving them time as well as saving them money in areas that we can.
So if we see an increase in members looking to go to a certain gym, or looking to go to a certain hotel, we will contact that hotel to make sure our members are getting the best rates there as well as added value so they will have a V.I.P. upgrade. I really can’t tell you what kind of client it is because they’re all so different. It is very male-heavy in the United States, I can tell you that. In New York, it’s banker-heavy. But for the rest of the world, it’s very broad.
What kind of services do you offer that other companies don’t?
It’s a personalised service. We offer a membership in which our member assistants get to know the details of your life: they know when your children’s birthdays are, and they want to make sure that you have gifts for them. They’ll even go out and do your shopping list for you. It can come down to decorating your Christmas tree and having it delivered, or having your Thanksgiving dinner catered in New York. It’s really anything under the lifestyle category.
Why do you cap the membership?
It’s dependent on territories. In New York, we cap the membersjhip at 5,000. A reason that we do that is so we insure the quality of the service that we are giving our members. If you have 5,000 members and you only have a certain amount of staff, then you’re not going to be able to give everyone your attention. It’s also a private members’ club. It’s exclusive. If it was open to everyone, it wouldn’t be what it is, and we really do pride ourselves on the exclusivity and the personal touch of each membership.
Do you do outreach, or do most people come to you?
Most of our new members are from word of mouth or referral from current members. There is really no advertising that we do. Yes, we do events for our members, and they might bring friends, but no, there is no advertising, or outreach, or poaching.
Photo: Courtesy of Stacey Gordon
So why do you have sister businesses?
The reason that we have those sister businesses under the Quintessentially concierge umbrella is because in the beginning, when we started, we were using third parties as suppliers. We would go to a different florist every time, or we would use a different car service for our members.
Basically, we brought that in-house, so that we could train them as Quintessentially concierge and insure that the service that our members were getting when flowers were delivered was the same service that they were getting when they’re a Quintessentially member using the concierge service. So we brought most of our supplier businesses, with the exception of airlines and hotels, in-house.
Where in the world is the majority of your clientele concentrated?
I would say New York, London, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
It seems like you have a lot of connections; how did you establish such deep connections around the world?
It’s really based on personal relationships. When people come to work for Quintessentially, it’s based on the personal relationships that they have, and then actually going out and brokering relationships based on what our members are asking for. So if our members are asking for a certain gym, a certain spa, we go to that spa, and if we’re driving business there, we want to make sure that our members are getting the V.I.P. treatment that we promise them.
Is there anything that you want to add to conclude?
The thing about Quintessentially is that it’s often portrayed in the press as a service for extreme requests: finding a yacht in the south of France, and throwing a party where Madonna is performing. We do get these crazy requests, but most of our requests are practical, and I would say that 68 per cent of the requests in the New York office are just for restaurant reservations and those hard-to-get tables. It’s more practical than it is extravagant, and it’s really about saving our clients time as well as money where we can.
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