With mobile apps that can make you a dinner reservation, find a taxi, a dog walker or even arrange your dry cleaning, who needs a personal assistant—let alone a luxury concierge?
The very, very wealthy. That’s who.
In 2017, personal wealth worldwide reached a record $201.9 trillion, a 12 percent gain from a year earlier, and millionaires and billionaires held almost half of that, according to a June report by Boston Consulting Group. With all that money, the competition among luxury concierge companies for leisure dollars has become more cutthroat than ever.
Instead of meeting simple requests like last-minute helicopter rides to the Hamptons, “lifestyle managers” must be ready to stun with private tours of the Sistine Chapel or balloon rides over Buddhist temples in Myanmar. And for their increasingly younger customers, all must be instantly available via smartphone.
For a few hundred thousand dollars a year, London-based Quintessentially promises all the spontaneity and bragworthy experiences any 1-Percenter could want. Along with its less expensive rival, Velocity Black, the company can still get you that great table at a hot restaurant or a dependable house cleaner. But the real draw is the option for extraordinary adventure, part of the growing, decadent “experience economy.”
Or, as Quintessentially calls it, “bespoke experiences.”
“It’s fun to say, ‘Oh yeah, we had dinner on an iceberg and a cocktail party in the Great Pyramids,’ ” said William Reedy, Quintessentially’s head of U.S. concierge servicing and a former lifestyle manager himself. “It’s not cool just because it was really expensive, but because it was something no one had thought you could do.”
Quintessentially was founded in 2001 as a 24/7/365 concierge service for the embarrassingly wealthy. Today it has 60 offices around the world and thousands of members who pay annual membership fees ranging from $7,500 to six figures. For that kind of money, members want whatever they want when they want it.
“When this company started, the idea was that there will be a magical phone number that could do anything for you,” said Robbie Guevarra, the company’s U.S. marketing manager. “If you knew the number, you were in the club. And if you didn’t, you weren’t.”
Today, your membership comes with not only that phone number but the email address of at least one lifestyle manager in a major city. From there, Guevarra said, “we fulfill anything that’s legal. We basically do anything and everything under the sun.”
The average net worth of a Quintessentially member is $50 million, he said, and the typical member is 35 to 55 years old. But newer members have been even younger. And that means better technology is critical to keeping up.
“When I started, I don’t even think iPhones were around—so there weren’t apps,” Reedy said. “There wasn’t Blade [the helicopter service], so you couldn’t just book a helicopter on your phone. Uber didn’t exist.” (Quintessentially is in the process of developing an app for its members, he said.)