Catering to the elite

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Quintessentially is a private members' club with a 24-hour global concierge service working with suppliers from all industries including travel, music, art, food, drink, hotels, clubs, spas and restaurants.

Sarah McGrath is the managing director of Quintessentially South Africa and the Regional Operations Manager for Africa.

She said: "My role is a very diverse one, including the strategic planning and development of the company.

"I also head our expansion into the continent which we are working on in Mozambique, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya and Angola."

McGrath studied marketing through the IMM then moved to London where she later joined Quintessentially, which started its Johannesburg office in 2004. She has been with the organisation for six years.

An average working day for McGrath is nine to 10 hours.

"It's a challenging industry and the essential skills required include being innovative, flexible, a forward thinker, passionate, self motivated, creative, having a strong ability to network and integrity," she said.

"Our business is 24 hours because we have to cater for our clients, always. If they want a ticket to sport event in Monaco we provide it or specific flowers sent to their loved one, we cater for that."

All employees in the company are key brand ambassadors and continual advertisers for Quintessentially.

"Every day has its challenges. Catering for clients can be tough sometimes, but good client service skills makes it easy," she said.

"Ensuring we remain the best so that we retain our clients and attain new ones is a tough game especially with the current economic crises. So we ensure we have all our suppliers in order and constantly keep ourselves updated in the industry."

McGrath said most challenges could be overcome with motivation, good decision making and a positive attitude.

"Good personal and business relationships are essential. The challenge is to manage more smartly and control costs during these times, but never to compromise the member's experience.

"When the client calls and ask you to organise something, you must provide that service."

The organisation recently launched Quintessentially Estates that provides exclusive and personalised property service providers in the world for the commercial and residential market.

"The industry has reached an exciting time. With many individuals being time-poor, companies within the concierge and lifestyle sectors can solve these problems allowing us to take away the hassle from people's daily lives whilst also offering money saving benefits and sound advice from experts," said McGrath.

"Concierges also offer an effective human resources solution for employers so employees can then focus on their roles and job at hand as opposed to searching the Internet to book the best restaurant for the weekend or arrange a spa treatment."

To keep up to date with the lifestyle industry, the company has partners and associations with HSBC Private, Jaguar, Dunhill, British Airways and Google.

"Working with teams globally enables us to share information on new industry offerings.

"We constantly keep ourselves informed on the world's finest luxury hotels, hottest clubs, most cutting-edge restaurants, leading cultural organisations, premier sport events, cutting-edge fashion houses and prestigious film premieres - on every continent."

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