If you are the owner of a platinum status credit card, then you most likely have access to a concierge service – a 24/7 service that is quite literally at your beck and call round the clock, seven days a week. The things is, you may not be using it at all, which is strange considering the range of things they can do for you. Today we’re going to take a look at what is on offer from a credit card concierge service – hopefully it will make you think twice before taking up your own time on tedious tasks like booking tickets.
If you don’t already, now is the time to start considering your concierge service as a 24/7 butler service that you can use to get things done quickly and with minimal effort on your own part. Of course, not all concierge services are created equally, but for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to look at what you can expect regardless of who your bank may be. Also, take into consideration that many of these services are aimed at busy businessmen/women with limited time.
The most frequently used concierge services are related to travel. It doesn’t take a genius to work out how useful a 24/7 assistant could be when you are lost in a foreign city or have no internet access to check things yourself.
Flight Information Retrieval
Although there is a plethora of smartphone apps dedicated to tracking flights, you may not have network connectivity at the time as you may be overseas on business. In a circumstance such as this, you could call your concierge and have them tell you what your flight’s status is.
Hotel Recommendations & Reservations
It isn’t uncommon for travel plans have changed at the last minute because of a missed connection, overnight delay, cancellation, etc. If you are bumped from your flight and need to know where to stay in an unfamiliar city, your concierge will be able to recommend a good hotel nearby. Not only can they recommend where to stay, but they can also book you into a room and charge it to your card.
I’ve had a look around on various forums and blogs and some of the tasks assigned to concierges have been surprisingly specific. One person wanted a “romantic B&B in the Lamingtons for my honeymoon” and another asked their concierge to find a 5 star junior suite with sea views in Sydney for the night.
The point is, you can be very specific with what you request. It doesn’t have to be a generic “quote me for a room tonight in Melbourne CBD” request.
Car Rentals, Limousine Reservation & Airport Transfer Bookings
Another way cardholders get their concierge to help with is with car rentals and other car related bookings. For example, you can call your concierge up and get them to book a car rental for you at your destination rather than trawling through the internet yourself. If you just need a transfer from the airport to your hotel, your concierge will be able to help with that too – and you can rest assured that they’re going to use the best airport transfer service. Fancy making an impression with a surprise treat for a visiting party or arriving at your destination in style? Get your concierge to book a local limo for you and whoever you may be travelling with.
Finding Lost Luggage
Hopefully you have never lost any luggage, but if you have, you’ll know how stressful it can be to deal with. If your luggage does get lost, try calling your concierge and ask them to assist in locating it. Some concierges don’t offer this as a service, but I know for sure that some do and have assisted others to track down lost luggage by phoning around the different baggage handlers.
Send an Information Pack for Your Destination
Don’t know much about where you are going? Want something to read on your flight? Ask your concierge to send you an information pack on your destination to bring you up to speed. Most will be able to send it to you via email, fax or good old fashioned postal mail. Note that information packs will most likely be limited to major cities only – metropolises like London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong will be covered, but smaller regional cities may not be. You can always fall back to Wikipedia or Lonely Planet and the like.
Your concierge can help research and book tickets for events in major cities around the world.
Imagine you are overseas on business and you have a limited amount of free time to get out and about to see what there is to see. If you are stuck for things to do, you could ask your hotel concierge for their best ideas, or alternatively, you could get your credit card concierge to make some suggestions. While most credit card concierge services are of a high standard with a good depth of knowledge, if find yourself hunkered up in some obscure city in Azerbaijan, I would probably give the hotel concierge a try first as most credit card concierge services are focused on providing event recommendations in large cities. Which leads me on to my next point…
Researching, Purchasing & Delivering Theatre, Sporting & Concert Tickets
Ever tried to book tickets for a popular band’s concert? It isn’t pretty. So why go through that stress when you can get someone else, i.e. your concierge, to take care of it for you? I know what I would rather do at 6am when tickets are released. Use your concierge to give you event times and availability. Not only can you ask them to research the best dates, but they will also buy the tickets for you (using your card) and arrange to have them delivered to an address of your choosing.
When was the last party you planned? If it was anything like the recent birthday party my wife organised, you would be wise to avoid planning it yourself – unless you like dedicating yourself to it for the next few days. Practically every concierge will offer a party planning service, which can take care of invitations, managing responses, etc.
Unsurprisingly, many of the most frequent users of the concierge service are businesses. It’s only fitting, therefore, that business centric services are available.
Referrals to Local Conference & Business Services
Your concierge will be able to hook you up with local providers of conference and business services, assuming your existing provider has failed or you didn’t have one in the first place. I’ll not list all the possible problems this could help resolve, but suffice to say that conferences and meetups of any size are difficult enough to organise at the best of times. And if your service provider lets you down, you probably won’t be able to afford the time it would take to find a replacement and then run the gauntlet of them not being unable to help. Your concierge service could be a deal-saver in so many ways.
Arranging Hospitality Packages
This is another example of how the concierge service can really help you make an impression on those around you, which is particularly useful if you are working on a business deal. A hospitality package could be as simple as a premier concert / theatre ticket or box with drinks and food, or it could be more luxurious. If you want to arrange a corporate hospitality package but lack the time, staff or connections to do it yourself, contact your concierge and get them to do sort it out on your behalf.
Sourcing & Delivering Goods
It could be as simple as ordering a replacement laptop battery, buying a new shirt from your favourite designer or finding a replacement for damaged luggage. Whatever it may be, and as long as it is legal and ethical, you can ask your concierge to source it for you and have it delivered.
Consider travelling to a meeting to give a presentation only to discover your laptop is intermitently switching off without warning. Call your concierge and get them to arrange for the rental of a replacement computer. A situation like this would be a stressful thing to deal with yourself. Being able to leave your concierge to deal with it for you will make the annual fee charged on practically every platinum level credit card a much less bitter pill to swallow.
A/V Equipment Referrals & Rental
Need to get a projector for your presentation? Maybe you need a company to help set up a sound system for a conference you are taking part in. I can only imagine how stressful this would be to organise, even at home, never mind in an overseas city where they might not even speak English. Again, this is another instance when your credit card concierge can help you out by referring you to a reliable local provider or arranging for the rental and delivery of the equipment you need.
If you are relocating to a new country for work or play, there’s probably going to be a learning curve. Most concierge services will be able to offer advice that will help with your move. Of course, you can use all the above as well to find out more about what’s going on around you, where to buy things, how to get to places, etc.
Help with Personal Life
Your concierge can help with the more mundane things that everyday life throws up, like sorting out gifts, finding a local shop that sells something specific, or even finding someone to look after your pets while you’re away.
Golf Tee Times & Reservations
Rather than having to phone around clubs for a suitable tee time, get your concierge to do it for you and report back with what’s available locally. This service may not be particularly useful at home as any keen golfer probably has a club membership, but when you’re overseas or even on the other side of the coutry, getting someone else to do the research and book your tee time is a definite perk.
Floral Arrangements & Delivery
Need to send flowers for a birthday? Want to make a member of staff feel valued? Call your concierge and specify the details of what you want and they’ll find a suitable florist, place your order and have it delivered with no further input from you.
Beauty Treatment Reservations
Got an important business meeting and need to freshen up to make a good impression on your potential new client? Maybe you have flown into town for a wedding and need to get your hair done? Well, whether you have a preferred business in mind or note, call your concierge and have them arrange an appointment for you. Again, this is particularly useful if you are away on business or travelling overseas to an unfamiliar city.
Health Club & Personal Trainer Information & Reservations
if you are at home and have a personal trainer already, then, obviously, you probably aren’t going to take advantage of this. If you are travelling and want to meet a PT at the hotel gym for a workout session or two, then this is something you can get your concierge to help out with arranging. And if you are looking for somewhere to train, then your concierge will be able to point you in the right direction.
Again, this one is more catered towards someone who is travelling somewhere unfamiliar on business or while on holiday. For example, when I was on holiday in Europe last year, I needed to go and find some baby supplies (in a hurry). I couldn’t speak the local language (Portuguese) and ended up wasting a lot of time trying to find somewhere that sold what I needed. A call to my credit card concierge would have taken care of that problem by providing instructions on how to get to an appropriate shop. If you live in a large city like Sydney or Melbourne, then your concierge could also come in handy if you are looking for a particular store or just need directions to somewhere unfamiliar.
Gift Sourcing & Delivery
Your concierge should be the first port of call should you realise you need to find, order and deliver a gift at the last minute. Yes, you could do it online. But why do that when you can give your concierge some specifications (prices, who it’s for, etc.) and leave them to sort it all out. I know what one I would prefer.
The above are quite particular examples of what a concierge is usually able to do, but from my research, they respond to many more unusual requests. Here are some examples.
Finding a Pet Minder
One person said they used their concierge to find a minder service for their pet while they went on holiday.
Comparing Product Prices
Seems like a lot of people use the concierge to find the cheapest price for an applicance, e.g. find me the cheapest price for Choice’s top recommended dishwasher with free delivery.
Getting on VIP Lists
A good concierge may be able to get you on to a VIP list for access to restaurants and events.
Those are just a small handful, but I’m sure you can think of more unusual tasks!
That’s Cool. What Does it Cost?
Generally speaking, the time you spend in conversation with your concierge on the phone or via email does not cost anything. Neither does research into sourcing a product, getting a quote or making a booking/reservation. You will have to pay for any charges related to the goods or services you are buying or reserving, e.g. making a downpayment, customs duties, cancellation fees, etc. It’s well worth checking your card’s terms and conditions just to be sure what you get charged for and what you don’t. And if in doubt, you can always ask your concierge before getting them to do anything.
An Important Pricing Caveat
A lot of people use their concierge to go out and research the cheapest prices for a certain product or service, e.g. a hotel room, a replacement TV, a car mechanic. There is however an important caveat, typically located somewhere in the concierge terms and conditions, you should be aware of stating how they are only required to make a reasonable effort to find the lowest price. What defines reasonable is debatable, but I would hazard to guess it comes down to the amount of time the concierge can spend researching on your behalf. If it is more important for you to save your time as opposed to $50, then this won’t be much of an issue. If, however, you like to get the cheapest possible price going, you might want to think twice before offloading product research, especially on pricier items.
A Word of Warning
Credit card concierges are very useful, but they do have their limitations. For example, you can’t ask them to do anything on your behalf where the provider needs to speak with you directly. So for example, they may be able to shop around and get quotes for an insurance product, they will not be able to interact with your insurance provider and deal with any issues specific to your policy as the insurer will want to speak with you directly for security purposes.
And concierge services are not all created equally. Some of the banks outsource to a third party provider, which inevitably has an impact on the level on customer satisfaction they provide. Some concierge services are more limited than others, so in other words they’ll do what you could do yourself, e.g. perform a search on Google. Other banks will actually employ experienced concierges who tend to be more prepared to go the extra mile for their clients. It would be easy to say that a bank such as American Express or Macquarie Bank should provide a higher level of concierge service based on their reputation for prestige and upmarket cardholder rewards, but doing so would be unfounded based on what I’ve read.
If you have a card with a concierge service, use it! Email them or lift up the phone and call them. Try it out and see how they can help you in your everyday life. Hopefully you’ll get to know them by their first name soon. Just tell them we sent you!