Local concierge services promise you the moon, but what do they really offer?
December 22, 2014
What exactly is a luxury concierge service? To us, the term conjures up the image of a white-gloved, livery-clad butler holding open the door to a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom
and handing over a diamond necklace we ordered as a last-minute gift for our other half.
It's rather an attractive thought, having a team of people looking after our every wish and desire, leaving us completely free to enjoy life to the maximum, but is it the reality of what these services in the region really offer?
There are plenty of options if you're looking for a concierge service in the UAE. The likes of VIP Platinum
, The Concierge Company
, Luxury World Key
and, perhaps the best known, Quintessentially
all claim to offer unrivalled service that will make our lives run like clockwork and gain us 'money-can't-buy' perks and experiences, but are these companies all they say they are?
The anecdotal evidence certainly suggests so. Take Quintessentially, for example - recounting a recent experience, Matt McGinty, an Elite Account Manager who has worked for the company for more than six years, claims that in a single day he did the following for his members:
- Track down a jobless single mother who a client had seen in the newspaper and wanted to donate some money to.
- Arrange a French, German and Russian-speaking interpreter at half an hour's notice.
- Find a pet-sitter for a member who was going to the Maldives for two weeks.
- Buy and deliver a pair of designer shoes as a gift for a client's girlfriend.
- Get a table at a fully booked restaurant.
- Secure a mention for a client on the cover of a high-profile magazine.
- Arrange a pair of tickets for Shakira's sold-out London show at an hour's notice.
When you look at the perks - sold-out concert tickets, table at a fully booked restaurant - they are exactly in the remit of the claimed money-can't-buy experiences. This is great in principle - we all enjoy being treated well and getting those priceless VIP touches - but isn't the whole point of a money-can't-buy experience that money can't buy it? And in the case of the concierge companies, money literally can buy it, as most work on the basis of a yearly membership fee, plus any extra costs incurred.
The top rung of membership at the likes of Quintessentially is priced at around AED 140,000 per year, and is available on an invitation-only basis - a bit like the awesome Ferrari Laferrari
, then. This gets you invites to elite members-only events and a team of ‘personal elite lifestyle managers’, who promise to get you "what you want, wherever and whenever you want it".
Lower down the price bracket, for around AED10,000 a year, you can get an entry-level membership. For that you'll generally get access to a team of luxury lifestyle experts, who are available 24/7, 365 days a year (although not assigned personally to you, unlike the elite membership), and on hand to help you make restaurant bookings, travel arrangements and any other little requests you may have.
Now, when it comes to these little requests, that's where the world of the concierge becomes, well, a little less exciting. Some of these companies offer the most mundane of services that, although undoubtedly helpful, are a world away from diamond necklaces and chauffeur-driver Rolls-Royces.
For example, everyday errands like dog walking, babysitting and laundry are common requests from those in the lower bracket of membership. The concierge will also help you arrange your bills, do your gardening, maybe a bit of DIY and even arrange a tutor to provide some extra educational support for your child.
There's no doubt that these things would come in handy, but in terms of the really exclusive five-star experience, they're not quite there, are they? In reality, if you join a concierge service on the basic level and expect to be treated like a king, unfortunately that's just not going to happen.
The top dogs may well be able to get the VIP treatment, but if you're willing spend AED 140,000 a year on a concierge then we'd hazard a guess that you're probably fairly well connected anyway. For those going for the entry-level option, sure, it'll probably help make your life easier, but instead of expecting a life of luxury, maybe it'd be wise to realign your expectations and settle for a clean apartment, a babysitter when you need one and the bonus of not having to walk your dog before work in the morning.