The last week of the year has been very hectic for Amit Dutta, managing director of Quintessentially Concierge (India) Pvt. Ltd, the licensee of Quintessentially UK Ltd, the global private club that offers concierge services and much else. The club’s office has been operating way beyond its closing hours to accommodate last-minute demands by members for the New Year. At the moment the requests centre around bookings for holidays abroad or for dining-out options at exclusive restaurants.
Dutta does not wish to divulge the number of members Quintessentially has signed up in India since its launch here in March 2010. He says that most members are from Delhi and Mumbai. Quintessentially is meant for busy high networth individuals (HNIs) and offers them a host of lifestyle privileges—from booking airline tickets and hotels to shopping assistance to getting access to super-premium night clubs.
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When you think of HNIs, think Lodha Towers’ World One project in Mumbai where a penthouse costs no less than Rs 65 crore. World One residents will be offered Quintessentially services. The club offers a graded membership and charges a global fee that varies from £1,000 to £2,5000 a year. For the by-invitation-only Elite membership, the price is much higher and available on request. The fee ensures that the members are pampered and, often, even their unusual requests are met.
Asked by one of its clients recently, the Quintessentially staff in India delivered “kachoris” (a deep fried snack) from a particular outlet to a member who was having a meal at another club, recalls Dutta. Another Mumbai member forgot one of his bags in Delhi on a recent visit to the city. He requested the company staff to personally deliver the bag to him in Mumbai as it contained valuables. Of course, the club charged for the actual cost of delivering the bag, but it does not demand any service fee.
The mundane often comes with the exotic. A few months ago a couple from Nigeria landed in Delhi and asked for a stretched limousine to visit Agra and Jaipur. Dutta’s team could not find a limo in the Capital. So a Rolls Royce Phantom was quickly arranged for their Jaipur trip.
The company has 56 offices worldwide and Dutta says the services are best suited to frequent travellers. According to an article in the business magazine Forbes, there’s another boutique lifestyle management company Concierge, also launched 10 years ago, which is small and serves some 100 exclusive members.
The Forbes report said Concierge appoints only female staff and has a distinct objective. “Their mission: to execute the wishes of an exclusive group of the wealthy and powerful.” In fact a Concierge employee quoted in the article said its staff can’t blink even if their members make extraordinary requests: “like a 4am request to photograph a client in a new dress and send the photo to her husband.”
It is interesting to look at why consumers—even if they are HNIs—would enroll for a service like this where their desires would be fulfilled in a jiffy.
It goes without saying that there are significant material benefits. Also, don’t forget the promised access. Membership of lifestyle management services gets you access to the most exclusive nightspots around the world, hottest tickets to the best shows and VIP access to the best tables. However, it’s not very clear how valuable such access would be to Indians within the country where the HNI community is very niche, small and highly networked. Here the real HNIs have connections to gain access anywhere and, mostly, free. Probably, the real value of such membership, then, lies in global travel.
To be sure, HNIs the world over are time-poor, clearly triggering an interest in such exclusive services. Helping its members with everyday necessities, including services such as personalized shopping, Quintessentially claims it saves a typical member around two weeks’ time in a year. The real luxury for such clients is time, which, Dutta claims, his company saves for them.
Last but not the least, a club like this and a membership of this nature says something about you as a consumer and how you have changed. It’s like buying a, say, Cartier watch. It goes beyond the rational benefits. Earlier, the HNI aspired for a product or a service that was differentiated, he now wants to move up the ladder and look beyond that luxury bag or a car.
A concierge service turns the ordinary into extraordinary, what Dutta claims to be a “wow” moment. It is probably the “wow” factor in the smaller things of life that is driving the rich, with a penchant for exclusivity and eclectic lifestyle and willingness to spend money for a concierge service.
Shuchi Bansal is marketing and media editor with Mint. Comment at firstname.lastname@example.org