Presented by A.M.A. Selections
Why Every Vacation Should Have a Dedicated Concierge
A.M.A Selections is the premier luxury vacation rental agency on the French Riviera with just under 100 villas for rent from Monaco to St. Tropez. With the company’s recent launch, A.M.A Selections is building an unrivaled breadth of reliability, trust and personal connection with their guests. The company’s clients began asking if A.M.A Selections could offer the same level of service in destinations outside of the French Riviera. This ah-ha moment was the catalyst for A.M.A Selections in creating their dedicated concierge service which is now offered on the French Riviera and locations beyond. Co-founder Mariek Anselme says, “Our dedicated concierge is a key differentiator for our company and it’s taking one of the most valuable assets of hotel stay and bringing it to the privacy of a villa.”
Tour guide, intermediary, and friend you didn’t know you had…your concierge might be the most valuable asset on your vacation. We interview Anthony, A.M.A Selections dedicated concierge, to get the inside scoop.
What skills do you have that prepared you for catering to luxury clientele?
When catering to a luxury clientele, I apply the skills I developed working in restaurants, those acquired from business school and a variety of other competencies that I gained through personal experiences and travels.
I have significant on-the-job experience in high-end restaurant service. Since age 16, I worked during summers on the French Riviera, from busboy to maître d’hôtel. This experience provided me with the technical skills associated with food and beverage service in a premium setting but also extensive knowledge about food specialties, wine and market prices.
In 2011, through word of mouth, I started working at exclusive events for high-profile clients in villas and yachts. At first, working for VIP clients can be very intimidating, especially with public figures. It requires a certain maturity and experience to feel confident around them. In this type of work environment, everything suddenly makes sense when you realize that they simply want to enjoy quality time with their friends and loved ones, just like you and me. Once I understood that, I was able to behave naturally and provide exceptional service.
Language skills are a definite plus. English, of course, is absolutely necessary. I am bilingual in French and English, fluent in Italian and I can speak basic German.
During my missions as dedicated concierge, I coordinate the work of many service providers in such a way that the client needs only to pass on requests through me. Simply put, my goal is to build a trustworthy environment with our clients. I achieve this by being myself, by being honest and humble. I have a lot of respect for our clients and this has always resulted in a healthy professional relationship. Of course, respect includes absolute discretion, being available at all times without infringing on their privacy and being thorough with any purchases they may request. Finally, it's about being organized and highly effective. Every request is processed with the utmost attention. There are no small requests. It's also about being resourceful enough to make last-minute changes and solving problems, dealing with local service providers and local businesses. My job is to make everything easy for the client and to provide a top quality, 100% tailored service.
What is a dedicated concierge?
It seems that concierge services are perceived as something from another era. Often, people associate the concierge with clichés like Alfred, the slightly snooty butler of Bruce Wayne from the Batman franchise. I believe that era is long gone.
Going on vacation with family and friends, renting a beautiful property and organizing transportation, grocery shopping, meals, and booking restaurants among many other things can be a lot of work, especially when traveling to a fairly unknown destination. Our clients clearly work very hard, so it's only fair they get to relax for the duration of their stay. I'm simply hired to make every aspect of their holiday as easy and pleasant as possible. I bargain with local businesses to get the best quality products at relatively reasonable prices, I can suggest interesting restaurants and arrange for anything from massages to cool excursions.
I'm 30 years old and I don't wear a suit and bow-tie. I dress smart casual unless the client specifies otherwise (this has never happened) and I adopt a professional yet calm attitude. Meanwhile, I fulfill requests with attention to detail and efficiency. The modern concierge is not a servant but a dedicated professional.
How do you rectify mistakes or handle a client’s disappointment?
A.M.A Selections trusts me with their clients and the stakes are very high. I accept responsibility for the clients' comfort and well-being during their stay and having a client leave a property disappointed is not an option.
That said, even the best trained professional can make small mistakes on occasion. In that case, honesty followed by a sincere apology can go a long way.
At A.M.A Selections, we work as a team. I'm in contact with the agency at all times and if a problem occurs that requires more resources to solve than those immediately available to me, I will report to them. A.M.A Selections has always gone out of their way to provide everything I need to offer exceptional service.
What is the most difficult request that you have ever been asked?
Before arriving at a destination, I make a point of researching local businesses and distributors of luxury goods and fine food products. I work closely with specialty food shops and even chefs in order to be aware of available products and procurement delays. That way, whenever a client makes a request for a specific good or service, I can generally provide an immediate answer.
Very rarely can I not meet the client’s requests. On one of these rare occasions, a client asked me if I could find a small quantity of wild Iranian caviar. However, sturgeon from the Caspian Sea is a protected species since the early 2000s and Iran enforces a strict fishing ban. Therefore, wild caviar is an illegal product in most countries and cannot be purchased through regular channels.
The client and I were not aware of such restrictions at the time. When I found out, I simply explained the situation and suggested a farmed variety that was personally selected by a local starred chef. In such situations, I always find an alternative before informing the client that the original request could not be met.
What is the best compliment that you have ever received?
Upon receiving a tip, I thanked the client. She replied: “Anthony, you give me peace of mind and that's all that matters.”