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Quintessentially - the world's local concierge

"For what purpose is all the toil and bustle of this world? What is the end of avarice and ambition, of the pursuit of wealth, power and pre-eminence? To be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency and approbation."  Adam Smith  (The Theory of Moral Sentiments) 1759

 

Adam Smith's observations might well have been adapted by the burghers of Quintessentially village for its 21st century client list; a wealthy and successful clique that knows what it wants. Quintessentially's global luxury concierge service has been successfully serving these clients' whims and necessities for the past 10 years.

December 2010 saw Quintessentially celebrate its 10th birthday party at the newly refurbished Savoy Hotel where guests indulged in 1920s decadence. The guests? Natalie Imbruglia, Jade Jagger, Tom Parker Bowles, Ronnie Corbett and a sprinkling of Goldsmiths joined the party which was organised by Quintessentially Events.

Sat Bal took time out to elicit the views of co-founder Paul Drummond on where the demands of luxury are going - and how Quintessentially is meeting them:

Sat Bal - Talk us through your role at Quintessentially

Paul Drummond - I am the group commercial director and I head up our corporate relationships. I put a lot of time into building up and maintaining our office networks in the Middle East and in North Africa.

 

SB - What attributes would you say your members share?

PD - Our members vary hugely and we really don’t have a stereotype as such. We have a lot of entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, as well as celebrities and sports personalities. We offer a personalised service to those who want the very best in life, but who may not have the time or the international connections to get it themselves.

 

SB - Dealing with high-net worth people in 59 countries all sounds terribly glam and cosmopolitan. What’s the reality?

PD - In all honesty, the industry could be considered glamorous, filled with fantastic people, extraordinary locations, and exciting opportunities. However, it is not easy. Quintessentially is a bit like a swan, appearing calm and serene on the surface, but there is a whole lot of paddling going on underneath. We are constantly working on building relationships, setting up new offices, arranging the best deals for our clients, and much more. It all takes time and a lot of effort. However it is very rewarding.

Quintessentially's Ben Elliot, Mary Clare Winwood and Tom Parker Bowles at Quintessentially's 10th

SB - How has Quintessentially’s net worth changed over its first decade?

PD - Quintessentially’s value proposition has increased exponentially over the last 10 years. With our expansion into almost 60 countries, and our 32 sister businesses, each consisting of a team of experts in every area of the luxury market, we can offer unequalled international insider knowledge which, in our industry, is utterly invaluable.

 

SB - LVMH announced a 53% rise in first-half net profit in 2010 and Mulberry recently tripled its profits in the first half of the year. How are you finding the power of the luxury pound? 

PD - By nature the luxury pound is more resilient, but in the recent economic turmoil members really want more for their money. Business is better than ever, but we are working harder to ensure that we get our members better deals, more exceptional opportunities and value-added offers.

 

"I know the difference between good and exceptional - and what average service feels like, compared to feeling properly looked after." Paul Drummond

Actor Leslie Phillips gets into the swing at Quintessentially's 10th birthday party

 

SB - How do you feel a Quintessentially event organiser differs from the typical organiser of high- profile events?

PD - For a start we actually have a world class events company, Quintessentially Events, which has been responsible for some of the UK’s most memorable functions, including the Elle Style Awards, the Serpentine events, Fashion Week parties and all of Quintessentially’s events. We have Quintessentially Wine, responsible for choosing the very best in champagnes and wines, Quintessentially Gourmand picking only the most sumptuous delicacies, Quintessentially Driven chauffeuring our guests to and from the venues, and Quintessentially Music insuring the best performances and entertainment on the night.

Quintessentially also has a truly vast network of contacts, which is incredibly useful when it comes to organising things like this. Whether it is an event in the UK, or more recently the spectacular ones that we’ve arranged for our members abroad, i.e. in the Pyramids in Egypt and the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. We can arrange any event, anywhere on the planet, and we will create it with style, imagination and make it bespoke. That is what sets us apart.

Party guests glam it up

 

SB - At what point do you have to draw the service line - eg. is it fine for a client to attend the fim premiere but problematic to arrange cocktails with Keira Knightley afterwards?

PD - We try not to draw lines. Unless it is illegal or immoral we will strive to provide a service without boundaries. We’ve organised private dinners on icebergs, private football lessons with premier leagues stars at the Emirates, organised countless evenings allowing members to meet their childhood heroes, and we’ve even managed feats like tracking down a taxi in Tokyo that a member had left their camera in. The list goes on....and the camera was found.

SB - How much of  the growth is organic with Quintessentially’s global range and ever-increasing diffusion range and how much future growth is in the business?

PD - Quintessentially’s growth is certainly very organic. The world is becoming a much more international place and we expand due to an increasing need for accurate insider knowledge on a global level. We also have a significant demand from members moving countries and requiring help and advice on relocation. We are used as cultural consultants for luxury in both business and leisure sectors worldwide. However at no point would we ever sacrifice quality for this expansion, and it never results in a dilution, otherwise we would definitely not do it.

There is still a lot of potential for further growth, especially in places like India, Brazil and China. As the economies of these countries grow, so does the demand for luxury goods and services.

Immodesty Blaize at the party 

SB - You have over 10,000 suppliers – how do you choose and vet them?

PD - That is the advantage of having 59 offices around the world. Ten thousand sounds like a lot but we have people on the ground across the globe choosing, testing and challenging all the top suppliers, ensuring that we use only the very best in every department. Every industry is covered, from travel to catering, childcare to private jets. We therefore are able to work with confidence knowing that the suppliers we use are the very finest. Spread across the globe, and throughout every industry, 10,000 is really not that much. 

SB - How demanding a consumer are you, personally?

PD - I am pretty low maintenance in my personal life, but when it comes to my professional life, only the very best will do. I know the difference between good and exceptional - and what average service feels like, compared to feeling properly looked after. Whenever I travel I use the same Quintessentially benefits and contacts that are open to our members, so I want to make sure it is totally faultless. I believe that it is important to have high standards.

Ronnie Corbett with the Place2be charity's Golden Showgirl

SB - Ben Elliot (co-founder) said that he wanted to me a magician. Did you always want to be a Magic Circle lawyer? (Paul was one-time solicitor for Norton Rose) 

PD - I actually wanted to play right midfield for Nottingham Forest, but sadly that didn’t pan out. Instead I looked into other fields that really interested me. What I love about what I do now is the constructive and collaborative process of building and growing a business.

Holly Valance and Nick Candy at the party

 

Paul Drummond's personal favourites

BooksSlaughterhouse 5  by Kurt Vonnegut, How Steeple Sinderby Won the FA Cup by JE Carr

FilmsBig LebowskiGood Will Hunting

Car: Mini Cooper S

Holiday: Argentina and Uruguay, Ibiza

Hotels: Boutique hotels like Soho Hotel and Estancia Vik in Uruguay

Restaurants: Hakkasan and Crazy Bear

 

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