Quintessentially is known for being able to meet any request. What are some of the more unusual requests you’ve had?
We’ve had all sorts of unusual requests. We have sourced albino white peacocks for J Lo’s White Party, decked out Paris Hilton’s plane in pink, her favourite colour, and hired the pyramids, to give a few examples. One Singapore member arrived in Cannes on the day the Cannes Film Festival opened and wanted access to two red carpet events that night – we got her in. Another member was taking his wife and children to Europe for the first time, for a month. We had to plan the entire trip, which spanned five to six cities, and the wife had very specific requests for the hotels they would stay in. For example, she wanted the bathrooms to all be a certain way. Fulfilling this request was a real test of our insider knowledge! Another client wanted an Indiana Jones experience, so we had ex-M16 people create the entire experience for him.
How do you pull off such elaborate requests?
We have about 30,000 suppliers globally and a very dynamic and robust customer relationship management system. We also have a powerful database and search engine called Q Solutions that allows you to look up services, restaurants, shops, venues, whatever you need. Each of our offices is like an encyclopedia of local knowledge.
Our customers can put in a request at any office and that request will immediately be directed to the office that can fulfill it. For instance, if I am travelling to New York from Singapore, I can call the Singapore office and say I want Broadway tickets delivered to my hotel room in New York and the request will pop up straightaway in our New York office. And when I get to my hotel room, the tickets will be waiting.
Top five things Singapore has to offer a Quintessentially member.
One of the key things is safety. High-net-worth individuals like Singapore for investment purposes and a lot choose to also live here. Another thing is having English as a working language; that’s very useful for a lot of our members. We also have a good confluence of brands, entertainment, and arts and culture. And we have great venues too. In terms of infrastructure, we are amazing. For instance, we have Jet Quay, which is very popular among our members because it is comfortable as well as fast. Other countries may have a fast track route for arrivals, but no one has anything like Jet Quay. What this means is that Quintessentially is able to provide better experiences for our members.
What about Singapore’s events? Are they a draw?
Definitely. A lot of our members attended the first F1 one here at our own suite facing the Ferrari pit and got a special welcome pack that included a guide to F1 and Singapore, which we produced specially for the event. And we have members from the region who fly here every week to attend events, be they store openings, new restaurants or performances.
You deal with people who are very sophisticated, very stylish, and live a lifestyle that many of us can only dream of. Tell me a little bit about your own taste, your own lifestyle.
My personal style is simple, classy and timeless, as you can tell. Understanding the industry and the lifestyle is more important than living it. The truth is a lot of high-net-worth individuals are the simplest people, contrary to what you might read about them, while there are of course the flamboyant ones. Quintessentially is all about lifestyle customisation. So I need to know and understand the spectrum of Quintessentially members so I can adjust accordingly.
You are a strong advocate of work/life balance? Is it possible to have that?
Very possible. I believe I am a walking example of that. I do a lot of yoga, for instance, and for the office, I deliberately chose a space with big, high windows, with a landscaped garden and a koi pond outside—it’s all about creating space and balance. I also believe in good time management. My team gets off at 6:30pm and I don’t want to see them in the office after that. I do not think that working over time makes you a more diligent or better worker. We follow that ethos.
Palais Renaissance offers a premium shopping experience. What would you say are some of the highlights of this shopping centre? And what do you like best about it, from you own personal experience?
Anastasia: I like Palais Renaissance’s cozy ambience, easy parking and good location. Its eateries like Heart Bistro and PS Café are great places for catching up with friends. PS Café is especially good for brunch and tea, and I love its outdoor area. For shopping, I personally like multi-cult label jeans store Inhabit because they understand what fits different customers and their service is great. This is where I come to for my denim fix. I’m not the biggest shopping person but the staff at Inhabit provide such great service that I keep coming back. Essex Walk is also superb for their lovely bespoke dresses. For beauty services I recommend L’Espace — they do excellent facials in a very soothing environment and because the salon is tucked away in a corner, you get lots of privacy.
We have a really nice glass of Schloss Lieser Reisling 2009 in front of us from Artisan Cellar at Palais Renaissance. Do you drink wine?
Yes I do. I’m tending towards white these days. I think it’s easier to drink and is nicer for our hot weather. But I like sparkling a lot more, actually. This Reisling is not bad, quite sweet and girlish, fruity and easy on the palate. It goes well with the food we are being served: truffle ravioli, green mango salad with crispy fish and marinated sashimi poké.
[Pearlin – we have to mention Artisan Cellar, who provided the location for the shoot, the wine and the food. So please keep this. Feel free to edit as needed.]
What are your plans for Quintessentially?
There is the exciting possibility of bringing other sister companies within the Quintessentially lifestyle group to Singapore. We have 20 sister companies, and I have eyeballed two areas that I am looking to develop for 2011. Quintessentially Escapes, which is a bespoke travel experience agency, and Quintessentially Butlers. The latter is an initiative that would create opportunities to upgrade the standard of service in Singapore. Long term, I would like to create an academy to groom and provide jobs through this initiative. What I’m doing may seem so out there, but I think I hope what I’m learning from the service industry can be shared to improve the overall standards here. That would be my contribution back to society.
Anastasia Ling, Commercial Director of Quintessentially Singapore, makes it her business to ensure high net worth individuals who come here have everything they need at their fingertips. She tells Elaine Ee-Meyers about the fascinating world of premium service and how no request is too extreme.
This article was first published in The Republic