We have entered a new age of luxury travel, where holidays are curated experiences using a combination of exclusive services and the best offers, woven together to provide on-demand personalised attention at all levels. Concierge services are the latest rage in luxury, with companies around the world offering wealthy travellers access to VIP amenities and services.
With little time and plenty of money, the ultra-wealthy are seeking personal providers, otherwise known as concierges. These lifestyle managers look into all aspects of their clients’ lives from entertainment, leisure and business to home and travel. It is all about offering hyper-individualised services to accompany the trend where people have moved away from ostentatious displays of wealth to more connoisseur-led luxury purchasing.
“Experiences are the new luxuries that people prefer to spend their money on,” Ankur Bagga, VP - Concierge Services, MyConcierge, tells GN Focus. “A rewarding experience is something you remember for life.”
With life-altering travel experiences becoming the holy grail of the industry, affluent travellers are looking for something more to enhance their journeys. “It’s no longer about just visiting popular tourist attractions,” Duncan Hardie, General Manager, Aspire Lifestyles Europe, MEA and India, tells GN Focus. “Today, they are looking for hidden gems, places yet to be discovered by the mass travellers, bespoke itineraries that will give them special access and exclusivity.”
Aspire Lifestyles is a B2B concierge services and benefit solutions company offering end-to-end airport services and planning for travel, medical and security assistance, and custom benefits and experiences for exclusive access.
“The expectation is for a service far greater and more personal than basic concierge,” Caroline Baker, Managing Director of the eponymousUK-based family office and property management company, with offices in Paris and Dubai,tells GN Focus. “The profile of the HNWI client has changed. This is now someone who wants a personal and tailored service where they actually see and get to know the person who is looking after both their property and their lifestyles.”
Aziza Ben Ali, Lifestyle Manager, Quintessentially Lifestyle, believes key factors driving the demand for these exclusive, tailor-made services are the growth of the local economy, tech-savvy clients with a wealth of information at their fingertips and millennial travellers with a limitless love for travel. Quintessentially Lifestyle’s connections to the prestigious, international brands enable it to offer members insider access, expert recommendations and exclusive privileges. Villas, chalets, yachts, incentive trips, tailor-made itineraries, five-star hotels, private aviation, adventures and a lot more can be arranged through Quintessentially Travel, a standalone provider of luxury travel crafting unique experiences where membership is not a prerequisite to book.
But it’s not just the ultra-rich who want bespoke experiences.“People don’t always want to pay expensive membership fees, which is why our company model is to curate all the best experiences in one place and to make them available at a reasonable cost with fantastic service. There is no price of admission, so membership is free,” says Bagga. Bringing the concierge concept to an accessible level, My Concierge offers a mix of off-the-shelf experiences available for purchase on its website o rthrough iOS and Android apps.
What's on offer
From life-enriching experiences and behind-the-scenes access to some of the world’s biggest events and shows to dining with the stars and staying in some of the most exclusive addresses, the nature of luxury travel is changing as conspicuous consumption gives way to more discreet travel.
Transparency Market Research has recently published a report titled Luxury Hotels Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2015 – 2021. According to the report, the global luxury hotels market was valued at $148.62 billion (Dh546 billion) in 2014 and is likely to reach $195.27 billion by 2021.
With the rise in luxury travel, concierge services are like having your own genie in a bottle, making every wish come true. Dr Mohammad Shoaib, CEO of Dubai-based Infinity Lifestyle Management and Concierge, lists some of the unique demands of its clients, “from custom-ordering a Maybach 65S and having it flown in directly from factory, sending a personal shopper to London to choose a designer wedding gown and flying back with the designer, organising a private yacht, full staff and catering for holidays in Amalfi Islands, to family getaway in the finest wildlife sanctuaries of Tanzania that included six villas, full catering staff, private jet and security”.
Infinity’s clientele includes royal family members, HNWIs and corporate clients, and its extensive list of holiday services includes private butler, personal shopper, personal trainer, chauffeured limousines, round-the-clock security, cars, yachts and private jets.
Baker offers similar services that include handling every aspect of her client’s holiday. “We receive a call requesting to go on holiday to the Maldives with only a few days’ notice and arrange everything from the private jet, packing a suitcase with the client’s favourite items, right through to accommodation and entertainment once they arrive. We can send our staff with the client or courier the luggage ahead, so everything is ready and unpacked once they arrive. We also guarantee all their medical records are up to date.”
Aspire received a request for front-row tickets to a sold-out concert in New York for a father and son, which ended in a boys weekend travel itinerary including flights, accommodation, limousine transfers, New York Knicks tickets, a restaurant booking at a top steak house and a private pizza-making class at an iconic New York pizza restaurant.
“One of our clients had us arrange a private VIP tour to South Africa for its top five clients,” says Hardie. “So we not only arranged for them to visit the mines of the world’s largest diamond supplier and trader but also a private dinner with the business owners. During the dinner, they engaged their in-house designer to conduct a personal diamond styling session for each of the guests and give them tips on the best types of diamond accessories to suit their features and complexions. Needless to say, the guests left with pieces they would otherwise have never known to exist. During the trip, they also visited the foundation created by Nelson Mandela to fulfil their long-term wish to give back.”