It’s a sign of the luxury-travel market’s growth that operators previously working under the radar have stepped to the fore in a bid to sharpen their competitive edge.
Earlier this year, concierge service Aspire Lifestyles emerged from the umbrella of its parent company – International SOS, which specialises in medical and security services – to establish a distinct brand.
“We realised we needed a new personality that fits the concierge market better,” says general manager Victor Yeow, before noting the integral role of service in the luxury sector.
“A lot of emphasis in the high net-worth market now is on the value of extraordinary experiences – as opposed to tangible luxuries,” he says. “We’ve done everything from the trivial – booking limousines and delivering vintage wines – to the extravagant, like facilitating the donation of an elephant to a temple in India.”
The extraordinary lies in what Aspire can achieve, due to its link to International SOS. “We can utilise its services in case of emergencies,” says Yeow.
“During the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, clients called for help. We sent the Japanese branch of International SOS to cater to their needs, as well as medical staff . If they had been in immediate danger, we would have airlifted them out of the country.”
It’s a situation they are constantly prepared for. “Before every trip, we sit down with the clients to brief them and make sure they are contactable anywhere they go. We advise them on safety, medical and insurance issues, and we’re on call 24/7.”