From booking your dream holiday to fuelling your car, personal concierge services sort out the details so you can get on with life.
By Kirsten Craze
A TRIP TO the International Space Station? Sorted. Dinner atop an iceberg? No problem. Vow renewals officiated by the pope? Done.
These are some of the experiences personal concierge services have arranged. They draw on their networks to help clients manage their lives, whether it be feeding a pet or scoring tickets to Coachella. Demand for such services has steadily increased over the past two decades, giving rise to a proliferation of options.
Take Quintessentially, founded in 2000 and now boasting more than 60 offices globally, or Knightsbridge Circle, an invitation-only program that began in 2012 and offers memberships from £25,000 ($AU45,000) a year. There’s also the Velocity Black app, backed by Gigi Hadid in 2017, which has since delivered more than 50,000 experiences.
Once the domain of the ultra-rich, personal concierge services now cater to a broad mix of individuals, with Covid-19 lockdowns leading to a surge of interest.
In 2019, Kay & Burton branched out from the business of selling and leasing real estate when it launched a comprehensive Concierge team. The original goal was to provide homeowners with an introduction to a trusted group of preferred partners that could help around the home. However, when the pandemic hit, the service quickly exceeded its initial scope.
“Concierge has grown exponentially,” says Kate Emerson, the senior manager of Kay & Burton’s concierge division. “With people spending more time at home, we saw a change in demand. People started to put more money into their garden because it became their outdoor play space and sanctuary, and they were looking at it through the window every day while working remotely.
“There was also a shift in client requests, with many looking to repurpose areas to make their property more attractive on the sales market – an extra bedroom that needed to become a study, or the comer of a kitchen that’s to be used as a classroom.”
Demand for the service has coincided with an extraordinary increase in renovation work. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that $11.82 billion worth of home renovation approvals were granted in the year to October 2021. This boom has not only led to an uptick in Kay & Burton Concierge’s offerings, it has also seen the number of preferred partners expand. The list now includes home maintenance companies, conveyancers, architects, wine consultants and butlers.
If the Covid years have taught us anything, it’s where our priorities lie. “I think people are saying to themselves, ‘Life can be short, so I don’t want to mow the lawn. I need to be spending time with my family and friends or looking after my health.’ So, if you can outsource those things you’re not passionate about, then it’s time to do it,” Emerson says.
Before a preferred partner joins the Kay & Burton Concierge ranks, the tradesperson or service provider is carefully vetted, so clients can be certain their insurances are up to date, the company’s registrations have been checked and workers have a reputation for turning up well-presented and on time. For clients, there’s no need to surf review sites or ring around to find providers, no matter where they’re based, be it in Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula or anywhere else in Australia.
“We help with things you mightn’t expect,” Emerson says. “We’ve got a partner doing everything related to clients’ cars. They’ll fill the car with petrol each week, wash and vacuum it, go to their garage and make sure it’s running if the client is not there, and drive them to the airport. We’ve also got a pet concierge who walks dogs, does pet-sitting and will collect dog or cat food.”
You don’t need to be a property client to use Kay & Burton Concierge, and there’s no fee to connect with the preferred partners. At Kay & Burton, it’s always been about building relationships. “We identified a need for people to receive assistance beyond the transactional side of real estate,” says Emerson. “We realised that we could become another trusted resource. They’ve got an accountant, a lawyer – why not have Kay & Burton Concierge, too?
“For our business, it helps us build amazing relationships with people. Rather than someone selling a house and then us not really interacting with them until they sell again, this is a way of bringing them into the Kay & Burton family and looking after them for generations.”