When VIPs travel to meetings, they often come
with high-level requests for hot tickets or reservations at trendy
restaurants. If you’re at a five-star property, the go-to person
just might be standing behind a counter in the lobby: a concierge
whose lapel sports the crossed golden keys of Les Clefs D’or (www.lcdusa.org),
an exclusive international concierge association. But planners no
longer have to be at a top luxury hotel to get such exemplary
service, and they don’t necessarily have to look for that
Although they do bear a genetic tie to the traditional Clefs
D’or, a new group of independent concierges has evolved, catering
to businesses and individuals. Procuring hot tickets and tables are
the stereotypical example of what concierges-for-hire can do; they
actually are prepared to fulfill just about any legal request that
a planner doesn’t have the time or resources to accomplish.
This breed is similar to the traditional concierge. They have
the extensive connections to make the impossible possible. The big
difference: These concierges are independent business people who
charge clients for their services; or the businesses are set up as
member organizations, fulfilling requests for anyone who pays the
dues to join. Some even offer customer-loyalty programs. Several
concierge organizations are international in scope, invaluable for
planners with global requests, and still others are available 24
hours a day and offer their clients emergency hotlines.
One of the oldest independent companies of this sort is San
Francisco-based Les Concierges (www.lesconcierges.com), offering personal assistance
to millions of subscribers. CEO/co-founder Linda Jenkins takes
event planning so seriously she has several certified meeting
professionals on staff, some even working on location in the
offices of select corporate clients such as Lockheed Martin.
Membership starts at $99 a month. Les Concierges’ services
range from shopping, gift wrapping and house cleaning to acquiring
tickets and planning events.
International requests are the bailiwick of Quintessentially
(www.quintessentially.com), a London-based firm that
calls itself a club. Annual membership costs £650 (about $1,150 at
Access is the key to fulfilling members’ desires, says
Caroline Homlish, an event manager for Quintessentially. “We know
what the newest, hippest, hottest thing is,” she says. The club
offers services in many areas, promising exclusive entrance into
private nightclubs, offering spa deals, and arranging tickets or
play at top sporting venues.
To Steve Sims, CEO of The Blue Fish (www.thebluefish.com), based in Delray Beach, Fla.,
“The definition of concierge is a supplier of other people’s
products.” Sims’ company charges per service. Among its many
offerings, The Blue Fish sets up unique travel experiences (shark
diving off Cape Town, anyone?), arranges rentals of exotic cars and
sends clients backstage at concerts.
Over-the-top exclusive is the province of MintLA (www.mintla.com), based
(where else?) in Los Angeles and whose annual fee is $12,000.
Membership is limited to 200 in each city the firm serves (MintLA
also has offices in Chicago, London, Miami and New York City).
Co-founders and brothers Gordon and Steven McGeachy say they
can make the impossible happen on an hourly basis. “We keep our
eyes open and our mouths closed,” says Gordon. MintLA can take care
of everything from the basics, such as delivering flowers or
groceries, to the complicated, like arranging a private jet to
bring in a VIP at a moment’s notice.