There's no question the coronavirus pandemic turned the travel industry on its head. But beyond airlines and hotels, tangentially related businesses like the world's largest private concierge service, Quintessentially, were affected too. How do they serve an affluent client base when their typical entertainment sources disappear and travel needs dissipate? CEO Annastasia Seebohm opened up to Departures about how she figured it out.
What sort of services did Quintessentially offer pre-pandemic?
Pre pandemic, it was absolutely traveling, restaurants, and then tickets to sporting and music events. Requests would be everything from reservations at Carbone on a Friday night to the best hotel in the Maldives and access to the latest thing at MSG.
And how has that changed in the last year?
We're calling it "at home entertainment" with categories like bespoke self-betterment and localized travel. How can I still have travel experiences, but that are close and safe to where I am? Giving back has seen a huge rise during the pandemic. I think people have had a chance to reflect on what they're doing with their time and money. So, philanthropy has definitely been on the rise, and gifting loved ones. They can't see the people they love. So there's lots of gifts flying around all over the world.
Do you have any example requests?
We've planned virtual experiences like a private DJ set for the whole family. So, members all over the world virtually can join in and enjoy a private show together.
How have travel requests changed?
Half of our members are still traveling. They're just traveling in a different way. We get lots of localized travel. When they're going slightly further afield, it's about being able to take villas or exclusives on resorts. It's a much more secluded travel experience.
And why do you think you've remained successful during this period?
I'm so proud that the value proposition of the membership has been even more cemented. I think it's because we offer an incredibly high level of service. It's not a reactive service, and it's about truly getting to know our members. It's a real one-to-one relationship with the lifestyle managers, which allows us to really personalize the service and cater to their needs. That's what allows us to pivot. Suppose it was a busy executive traveling every week needing restaurants and travel arrangements and is now at home with their family. In that case, we can adjust accordingly, suggesting at-home experiences and ways to help around the house.
What's the coolest experience you've had because of the job?
I have two. One was a tennis and golf tournament on Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson. Then in terms of my favorite hotel, I went to Soneva Jani. It is hands down the best place I have ever stayed. They have astronomy experiences and snorkeling experiences, and culinary experiences. It was like a hundred out of 10. It was amazing.