The new era of luxury travel has begun to increase demand for curated experiences, exclusive access and unique offers. The wealthiest consumers are willing to pay the extra buck for personalized attention. The idea is to purchase an experience, one tailored to the travelers’ needs and enough to fill their ire. Personal concierge services are a response to this demand. Today’s “concierge” is more than a person at the hotel lobby calling a bellboy for your bags and booking dinner reservations.
A Luxury Lifestyle Manager
The word “concierge” derives from the French comte Des cierges or, “keeper of the candler,” a term referring to the servant who tended to the visiting noblemen at medieval castles. Eventually, the name “concierge” came to stand for “keeper of the keys” at public buildings, particularly hotels. Nowadays the concierge is much closer to a luxury lifestyle manager, seeing that travelers and hotel guests get the absolute most out of their stay. Servicing high paying clients in everything from dry-cleaning to last minute reservations at the finest restaurants in town and even a private helicopter tour above a cityscape.
The Rise of Private Concierge Services
As time in the modern world becomes a coveted currency, the top 1% has geared up a demand for personalized services. Luxury travelers can fit 36 hours into a 24-hour day if they can bypass the woes of organizing and researching travel activities. Wealth has been reallocated for buying carefully selected experiences. “The trend is all about experience at the high end,” explained Drew Davis, chief brand ambassador at Concierge Sales Network, during a Q&A with Luxury Daily. The latter has given rise not only to a wider range of concierge of offerings, but a market for private concierge companies to thrive in. Companies like Quintessentially Lifestyle, a private concierge services company, have capitalized on this.
A growing economy in the hands of tech-savvy millennials, over-saturated with information at the touch of their smartphones and a lust for travel and individual experiences, are creating a niche in the luxury travel industry that wasn’t there before. Or rather, expanding it. In an interview with Travel Weekly, Victoria Boomgarden from Direct Travel Luxe, explained it best. “The new luxury is having travel designed to suit your every whim.” Customers want more than a gimcrack list of tourist activities. They want sublime experiences.
And her mention of “every whim” isn’t a stretch. Most services now offered by personal concierges include access to coveted amenities like private villas, high-roller suites, chartered yachts and private tours. They might also include elite-status perks with airlines, entree to private events, exclusive rates at certain activities, venues and VIP preference to the hottest clubs and restaurants. Essentially, a suite of personalized services and custom-tailored itineraries.
As an example, Travel and Leisure reports on its writer’s experience when trying different concierge services. At one instance he managed to nab last minute Coldplay tickets for an oversold concert, and reservations at the near impossible to sit in New York restaurant, The Spotted Pig, that purportedly doesn’t take reservations for anyone. Concierge services want to do more than just help travelers arrive at their destinations. They want to help cater their experience to what best suits their immediate wants or needs.
The Current Business Climate
A report from market research firm IBIS World found that the concierge services industry has been growing steadily over the past decade in the U.S. Rising at an average annual rate of 3.7%, and is expected to hit $264.4 million by 2017. To put this into perspective in terms of tourism, travel accommodations account for the highest concentrated employment in the concierge services industry and cater to the growing high-end demands of wealthy travelers.
However, as with everything else, there is a price. Some companies like Pure Entertainment and Quintessentially, are membership-based, with annual rates that range from $12,000 into the tens of thousands. Others are free extras offered to top-paying customers. From credit card companies and private banks to upscale department stores and luxury travel sites, concierge services are on the rise. American Express platinum cardholders have access to personal concierge services ranging from travel rates to concert tickets and dinner reservations. Similarly, Suiteness offers its customers personal concierge services when they book from an exclusive list of high-end suites. With services ranging from exclusive rates, airport transport, dinner reservations, and all forms of special requests.
The Future of Concierge Services
More and more, companies are targeting the needs and whims of the well-to-do consumer. Wealthy consumers have shifted behavioral trends in how they choose to spend their money when traveling. Baby-boomers and pleasure seeking millennials want more than overt displays of wealth. In keeping with what is perhaps a key zeitgeist of our time, consumers are instead looking for life-changing, individual experiences. Making luxury into travel more of a discreet and personal activity, as opposed to a commercial or ostentatious one.
Moreover, people value the monetization of their time more than ever. Meaning they are willing to spend in order to maximize their vacation time. As Dane Steele Green, of Steel Luxury Travel, told Entrepreneur, “[t]hese are people who have the money to experience the finest in life, without having to book it and do all of the work themselves. That’s what I do.” Experiencing life as a local and of course at the highest quality acquirable, is at the top of the wealthy traveler’s list.
As consumers continue to outsource their lives more and more, the role of the concierge will continue to grow. For one, personal concierge services will become more accessible. Global platforms like MeetnGreetMe allows travelers to contact and hire local residents for concierge services, without the hefty membership fees. Similarly, My Concierge offers pre-customized “purchasable” experiences to help you build a custom itinerary. Continued economic growth, and the increasing accessibility and interest for travel will see an exponential development of concierge services. Simultaneously, consumer behavior and the interest in personalized experiences will also increase its demand.
Consumers who can afford the best will continue to raise the bar for concierge service demands. In turn, companies who can provide these top tier services will enjoy the fidelity of a largely lucrative group of consumers. The rise of the personal concierge is more than just an example of demand-meets-supply. It is a revelatory product of the times and the evolving industry, consumer behavior and the idea of luxury travel.