Service for the rich

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

If you enjoy a good and wealthy lifestyle, Charlie Hodge is your man. But if you enjoy working in a company that ensures wealthy clients are well taken care off, then Quintessentially is where you should be working.

London-based Quintessentially is a leading private members' club and concierge service offering lifestyle management and tailor-made travel.

The club was launched in South Africa in 2004 and already has 2500 members.

"People have a need for a support system and also want to be kept in the know of what is happening, where it is happening and why it is happening," said Hodge, sales and marketing director for the South African office of Quintessentially.

Hodge's diploma in tourism, experience in hospitality and lifestyle comes from running bars and clubs in Copenhagen, Tokyo and the French Alps.

He moved to London to study the hotel trade and worked for acclaimed British designer Anouska Hempel for five years, running the concierge desks at the Hempel and Blakes Hotel.

When he joined Quintessentially, he brought with him six years' experience as the head concierge at Blakes Hotel in London, where he also assisted with the opening of the five-star Hempel Hotel created by the designer.

Being well-travelled also enabled him to get the position in the organisation as he was able to apply his experience from the different countries.

"You've just got to keep your ear to the ground and be connected," said Hodge.

But he said it was his years at a military boarding school in North Wales that instilled in him the discipline necessary to make things happen for clients.

Some of the clients have unusual yet remarkable requests.

One member, who was attending a summer garden party at the Ministry of Defence, called Quintessentially to ask if they could find him a camel that he could take into the ministry as a cultural gift representing where he came from. Despite strict policies, this was organised.

Quintessentially also made it possible for a premiership footballer to go to a member's home and have a kick around with his twin sons for their birthday.

Sometimes, one can have demanding clients and the suppliers screwing up the event.

"To deal with this, you need to employ the right staff to deal with the right clients. We have staff of 15 people in Johannesburg and 15 in Cape town," he said.

Working in this industry can also be a challenge.

"You need to be open minded, a go getter, driven, someone who wants to make a difference and is very passionate about people. The job needs people who are willing to take this as a 24-hour job. You must be savvy and know what is happening. You must go the extra mile."