Shutting down a designer fashion boutique on the world’s most exclusive strips for a private shopping spree might sound like a scene straight out of 1980s film Pretty Woman, but it’s one of these money-can’t-buy moments that luxury concierge companies excel at.
Concierge businesses specialise in researching and delivering all manner of experiences for clients based at home – and travellers in a foreign city wanting to make the most of their travel time.
With intimate knowledge of particular cities, personal shoppers, for instance, know all the hidden gems and can save travellers hours by directing them to the right stores to suit their shopping needs. In London, Elle France and Marie Claire veteran Gabrielle Teare offers personal shopping and styling services, taking advantage of her expert knowledge of the London and Paris fashion scenes (gabrielleteare.com).
New Zealand-based Angela Stone Services (angelastone.co.nz), can organise international shopping sprees for her clients. Angela, one of New Zealand’s most successful stylists, travels with clients to international fashion capitals and personally assists her customers on shopping trips to a wide range of flagship boutiques. The trips include styling workshops and an assessment of the client’s most flattering colours and styles.
Concierge businesses can offer a broader service than stylists, beyond shopping, to include detailed and customised travel arrangements and VIP experiences. Most operate on a membership basis, but some boutique companies such as Luxury Concierge China (luxuryconciergechina.com) offer their services membership-free. Travellers visiting mainland China and Hong Kong can experience the region accompanied by experts in architecture, history, contemporary Chinese art, design and fashion.
In Dubai, the new myconcierge.com offers localised concierge services. Daunted by its enormous luxury shopping malls and abundance of premium activities, many visitors to Dubai seek to engage the help of on-the-ground professionals. The online service offers free membership, connecting its customers with high-end properties and luxury experiences, arranging anything from dune-riding adventures in the desert to fine-dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. The group has relationships with almost every hotel in the UAE and are in direct touch with both mainstream and off-the-beaten track experience providers.
The 60 worldwide offices of Quintessentially (quintessentially.com) provide VIP experiences for customers who are prepared to spend considerably. A member of Virtuoso, an invitation-only network of elite travel agencies, the company has relationships with luxury partners globally. In the past, they have successfully closed a Chanel store for a private shopping session – with the expectation of a minimum spend.
Membership tiers exist with certain concierge operators whereby the highest-paying customers have access to the most benefits. The Pure Entertainment Group (purentonline.com) based in Montreal, also a member of Virtuoso, takes on a small portfolio of clients. Elite travellers can choose to become a Bespoke member: this highest level of membership starts from US$50,000 and provides customised benefits to each client as well as 24/7 concierge services.
“Recently, a VIP client from the USA contacted us because he wanted to surprise his wife at dinner with a very special gift on their anniversary – perfectly matched diamond earrings with a matching solitaire diamond pendant,” says CEO Steve Edo. “Within a day, we were able to source the desired item, wrap it in a nice gift bag and deliver it to the client’s address the next afternoon. The client was thrilled and told us his wife shed tears when she saw the gift box.”
Receiving the thanks without the effort of physically shopping is a key motivator for the time-poor clients of the top concierge companies wishing to create special memories for their friends and family. On one occasion, The Pure Entertainment Group had a request from a Saudi Arabian client for the exclusive Hermès Nilo Crocodile Birkin bag. “The husband took all the credit and sent us a thank you email because we put a big smile on his wife’s face,” says Steve.
Pure Entertainment can also deal with short time-frame requests involving travel plans. They once organised an intimate African safari for a client – complete with private jet transfers from Zurich, wine tours and spa treatments – within four days.