Data Insights January 2021
Serving the High Net Worth: Changes in Concierge Requests During COVID-19: A Year in Review
As everyone will agree, 2020 was an unprecedented year upending our daily lives both personally and professionally. The industries we rely on that provide great joy in our lives such as travel, dining, and entertainment were severely impacted as COVID-19 surged.
At Aspire Lifestyles, the global leader in lifestyle and concierge services, we saw this impact firsthand. We were forced to adapt to the new normal created by the pandemic and our service evolved to support our clients’ new needs. Traditional service requests such as tickets to concerts and festivals, dining reservations, and travel to a favorite island destination were quickly replaced by online concerts and festivals, meal delivery services, and recommendations for pool and sauna installation companies.
Extraordinary Service Remains, but the Channels and Request Types Change
One of the benefits of our business model has always been our ability to provide an extraordinary level of service and access. Even in 2020, when we saw the most drastic shift in requests happen almost overnight, we supported our customers’ varying needs that had shifted to local, digital and delivery requests.
Aspire Lifestyles Business Insights
Using our Business Insights platform (a powerful global data-driven tool that collects, organizes and disseminates information from multiple sources) we reviewed the requests that were in demand during the pandemic and charted the shift in services. The top three global service categories of 2020 were:
- Home and Personal
- Local Travel
Below, we overlaid trends specific to these three service categories.
- Home and Personal requests saw an uptick soon after the pandemic began and held steady throughout 2020. While nesting, customers’ interest in improving their homes rose with spikes in household service requests (home gym equipment, home office furniture, cooking appliances, outdoor renovations). As the pandemic continued, interest in personal health, wellness and pampering increased. We routinely handled requests for in-home hair stylists, massage therapists, and mani-pedi specialists, as well as requests for personal trainers, meditations, online yoga and fitness classes, and telemedicine.
- Shopping requests increased sharply and remained steady throughout 2020. Although the requests varied, luxury purchases were still in demand. As they did pre-pandemic, Asian shoppers continued to drive these purchases but instead of in-person trips to luxury retailers they turned to online shopping for hard-to-find luxury goods. The volume of shopping-oriented requests went up significantly (a 99% increase), which was also due to store closures, limited product availability, and local delivery restrictions in response to country and local quarantine policies. Shopping requests included sourcing luxury goods (Rolex, Birkin Bags, wine), securing personal protective equipment (face masks, gloves, antiseptics, medicines), arranging dining delivery services, ordering flowers and gifts, and locating sports equipment due to lack of availability.
- Local Travel increased during the second half of 2020. While most countries were in lockdown for two to three months, there was increased interest in local and domestic travel. While many customers were impacted by cancelled travel plans (flights and hotels) the trend toward local travel by automobile or luxury car rentals was apparent. We saw a 38% increase in automotive service requests globally compared to prior years. Some examples were locating RVs to rent, travel itineraries, staycations, and driving experiences.
While we noticed a rise in health-related requests (telemedicine consultations, COVID-19 informational webinars, COVID-19 testing services) during the first half of the year, interest plateaued mid-year. Many of our concierge programs integrated health and wellness elements such as wellness concierge, dieticians and online doctors. In China, we provided educational webinars on health and wellness that were attended by more than 5,000 customers.
When will Travel Return?
We have seen a gradual return to traditional travel service requests with customers planning post-pandemic trips, the lifting of some government-imposed travel restrictions and many markets supporting domestic travel. Even with travel-oriented requests down, customers relied on Aspire Lifestyles for updated information on quarantine measures and travel restrictions for favorite destinations.
Beginning in October, despite the re-emergence of COVID-19 in certain areas, our data showed an upward trend in travel bookings in some countries, including Russia, Japan, Vietnam, and India. We attributed this to customers re-booking previously cancelled trips or planning for future travel.
The Vaccine and Beyond
As the vaccine rolls out across countries, we anticipate the return of international travel and continued digital adoption of services. The lasting effect of the behavioral changes that surfaced in 2020 (working from home, rediscovering domestic travel, participating in virtual experiences) will persist as part of the new normal providing options to all lifestyle enthusiasts. What remains unchanged is our clients’ appetite for superior personal service and, of course, extraordinary experiences, at home or away.
Aspire Lifestyles is an industry-leading lifestyle management company and global provider of customer loyalty solutions. Founded nearly 30 years ago, it operates 24 locations in 20 countries worldwide. With a mission to delight clients and customers with every interaction, Aspire Lifestyles is on hand to assist 24/7 in over 30 languages across a wide range of customer-centric programs.
Document intended for information purposes only. All rights reserved. ©Aspire Lifestyles 2021