When Vertu opened its first luxury phone boutique in 2002, mobile phones were still very much considered a gadget. They still are of course, but they have also evolved into a lifestyle statement, a fashion accessory, a mini-computer and a media console all rolled into one. Vertu also took this a level further by turning a phone into a luxury product, making phones from precious metals, gemstones and fine leather. Dubbed the Rolex of mobile phones, Vertu encapsulates many elements of the high life – great design, superb technology, high-end materials, and, to take things a step further, added a concierge service for all its owners.
Global head of this service is Scotsman Mark Izatt. Based in London, Izatt runs Vertu Concierge, Vertu City Brief and Vertu Select. City Briefs are city guides that Vertu owners receive on their phone upon their arrival in a city, telling them the best about where to go, what to do and what’s on. Select comprises lifestyle content and special privileges for Vertu customers on a regular basis.
Asia has always been a key market for Vertu. Its second shop was in Singapore and it now retails in almost 10 Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. Just in December 2010, it launched its first smartphone, the Constellation Quest, in Hong Kong.
Tell us about the recently launched Constellation Quest.
It’s our first smartphone, the first QWERTY device that we’ve brought to market; with all the features you’d expect from a smartphone.
Vertu chose Singapore as its second retail location, the first being Paris.
Singapore has always been a very special market for us. Singapore has an iconic role in luxury business and is at the frontier of commerce in this part of the world, so it was quite a logical choice to launch a brand that hoped to become a serious contender in this field. It’s going well here and the countries around Singapore are all doing exceptionally well too.
Vertu’s concierge system is 24/7 and global, and users can access it simply by pressing a button on their phone. How are you set up to deal with requests coming from anywhere, anytime and about anything?
When a customer buys a Vertu phone for the first time, he gets 12 months complimentary access to our concierge service, which is activated through a button on the phone, and he can either call or they can email. We have a number of global hubs, in London, Hong Kong, Dubai and San Francisco, and a number of other regional offices. Those global hubs are equipped to deal with any request round the clock and they are backed up by destination/city specialists or specialists in specific areas, such as skiing, dining, business, help with home etc.
Can you recall some of the more interesting or unusual requests you have had?
They’re all very exciting! One recent one was from a husband who was going to miss his wedding anniversary. He knew his wife liked butterflies, and to make up he arranged for us to source some live butterflies, place them in a box and make sure the butterflies stayed alive. These butterflies were then gift wrapped up with a beautiful bow and hand delivered to his wife. When she opened the package at home these dozen of so butterflies flew out. It wasn’t a particularly expensive request but it was very different, and we did it in about four hours, from the time the customer first approached us, to sourcing and making it happen.
Is the service well used?
Very much so. Some customers will use it a lot, others will use it once or twice a month or they only use it when they travel abroad. We get a lot of people asking for help before they travel, seeking advice on resorts or destinations, so we spend a lot of time giving this consultancy experience. And we also get people wanting more complex tasks, like organising anniversary dinners or parties.
Why did Vertu decide to start this concierge service in the first place?
Looking at what sort of customer would be attracted to a Vertu phone, we decided that the next thing to make the phone even more special to them was a global lifestyle concierge service.
How long have you been in this role?
About 19 months. [at the time of the interview – Oct 2010]
Are you enjoying it?
I love it.
Do you own a Vertu phone?
I have a Constellation Quest. I have three email accounts on it, it’s got a great screen, and I can run my calendar on it. For me, it’s perfect.
Have you been to Singapore before?
No, not yet.
Do you look forward to coming here?
Singapore has always on my list of countries to go to. It’s a great, diverse market, is really on the cutting edge of Southeast Asia and has a great role to play in terms of business and commerce. It is absolutely perfect for Vertu, as it is able to help a target audience maximize their life efficiently.
At Your Fingertips
This gentleman works for a phone company that does what few, if any, other phone do for their customers – provide a high-end concierge service. Head of Enrichment and Experiences Mark Izatt talks about what it’s like to be on call 24/7 and why he’s loving it. .
This article was first published in The Republic