How do personal concierge services work?

Written by Jennifer Beattie on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Posted in Lifestyle

The season of goodwill is approaching, time for parties, eating shopping and generally spending time together.

Christmas Shopping Service
But spare a thought for all those people charged with turning all this goodwill into a large family Christmas. For them, this is usually the busiest and often the most stressful time of the year.

Helen Portmann a HR Executive knows the feeling all too well.

My husband and I both have busy lives. I have most of my longest business trips between now and around the 20th December and because we are expats (living in Singapore) we tend to have a big family Christmas. This year my brother plus two children and my parents are coming to stay with us over the Christmas period. To be honest I hadn’t realized how busy I was going to be and really don’t know how I will find the time to organize everything. I am really concerned about it all looking a bit rushed and disorganized

Can you find help to organize your personal life and your next family Christmas?

Well yes! In fact, Helen’s case is becoming more and more typical. Working couples or families in higher income brackets are increasingly seeking the help of a ‘private personal concierge’ to relieve them of some of the time consuming aspects of everyday life. This might be why the concierge market has been burgeoning in the last 10 years and (whilst figures vary), it is estimated to be worth around 1.5 billion dollars annually.

The majority of private concierge services and indeed clients are in the USA which constitutes around 60% of the market, but this is changing fast. New markets, such as the Middle East, Asia and Europe are emerging as wealth increases following the recent economic crises.

What exactly are private concierge services and how can they help me?

The involvement of a concierge service in your personal life is directly related to your demands and needs. It should be noted that most reputable concierge services will not get involved in illegal activities.

Typical things that you can expect them to do are:
  • Obtain tickets to a show or a table at a particularly premium restaurant
  • Source accommodation for short or long term assignments
  • Research flight tickets and travel itineraries
  • Find good deals for a car rental
  • Purchase presents for colleagues or even family and friends
  • Find short term household help, gardener, handyman etc
  • Find personal help (if the concierge service do not offer this themselves), for example a personal wardrobe consultant
  • Grocery shopping and/or finding caterers for a planned event

Can private concierge services take care of the more ‘personal’ aspects of my life?

Usually yes!

As demand continues to grow, concierge services evolve. Many specialist services are emerging to deal with particular areas of your personal life.

An area of rapid expansion is the maternity and pre conception concierge service. Much like a wedding planner a maternity concierge service can help you with all aspects of baby planning, from finding the right healthcare professional, to overseeing a pregnancy birth plan, baby proofing, labour preparation and baby accessories. They will leave no stone unturned and will even help you find a maternity nurse and nanny to enable you to return to work or to the activities you enjoy.

Many other concierge professionals go the extra mile and offer a really personal service. If you are in the process of thinking about pregnancy, a maternity concierge service could advise you on pre natal health, help you find the appropriate healthcare professionals and even direct you towards professionals that can help you conceive a baby.

Dog Training

Another booming business is pets. Our furry and fluffy friends need considerable attention and pet concierge services offer everything any self-respecting dog or cat could ever want, from walking and grooming to relocation, pet welfare and training.

Is using a private concierge service expensive?

In general, using a private concierge service is definitely not cheap. Many of the services are aimed at people and/or families earning over the £65,000 bracket annually (€80,000).

The pay as you go concierge option

If you need a concierge service for a defined event or period of time then you can pay by the hour. You will probably have an initial consultation with an individual concierge consultant to establish needs, with regular updates. Often the consultant in question is a one woman/man band and they will involve others as they see necessary. You are effectively paying for all their useful contacts, knowledge and time.

The membership scheme

Other concierge services require you to register and pay a membership fee. These can be very exclusive, so are good if you prefer total discretion. However, even here, there are often several layers of membership, from the basic to the exclusive - which provides you with your own personal concierge consultant or several if you are globally mobile. In either case, your concierge consultant will conduct a thorough interview with you and get to know your likes or dislikes, hobbies and even the birthdays of your children.

Are the concierge services offered by companies the same as private concierge services?

In some ways, yes. They offer or try to offer their customers help with things like tickets to restaurants, advice on good places to visit, hotel reservations etc. However, you will not, in general, be provided with your own consultant and it is a task orientated service rather than personal and proactive. On the plus side, a company concierge service is often complimentary (or with a small additional fee) and is frequently offered by bigger companies such as Amex or Visa in an attempt to improve customer service and retention.

Gold Credit Cards

Companies offering this service have generally grasped the concept that customer satisfaction, loyalty and economic progress are linked to responsive client business practices.

I have a finite budget, can I still use a concierge service?

The demand for these types of services is no longer confined to the super rich. Of course some of the exclusive membership only schemes will continue to remain out of reach for many, but this does not mean that you cannot find a concierge service to help.

If you have a credit card, ask if they have a scheme. You may even be already enrolled in one.

Many companies will provide concierge services for a fixed fee (as in the explanation above). So if you need help during a particular period of time or for a particular task then this would be a good option.

In short, there is a concierge service to suit all needs. You can have a membership option, or pay as you go, the choice is entirely yours. But if you are unsure, you can almost certainly find a concierge consultant who will help you decide!

About the Author

Jennifer Beattie

Jennifer Beattie is the freelance journalist for FD Platinum. With lots of experience of moving and relocating nationally and internationally, Jennifer has personal and professional knowledge of the issues involved. She aims to provide up to date and accurate information on topics of importance to the industry.