As the UK begins to enjoy some new-found freedoms after such a dismal year, it’s no wonder that people are looking to treat themselves to a little well-deserved luxury. No industry has worked harder than the medical profession over the last 2 years, so if anyone deserves a little R&R, it’s our community of Nurses, Doctors, Surgeons, Practice Managers and Consultants.
Which got the Doctors’ Club thinking, if you’re looking to relax and unwind, how does one treat oneself in a post-pandemic world?
We caught up with concierge expert, Achilleas Masouras, founder of exclusive concierge service, Pique, to find out what his clients are doing to take a little ‘me’ time and what motivates Achilleas to deliver such exceptional quality to his members.
Where did the inspiration for Pique come from?
“I’ve been fortunate throughout my life to travel extensively and experience the very best the world has to offer. I’ve grown a passion for sampling the finer things and sharing those experiences with my loved ones. It seemed only natural to grow that passion and share it with as many people as possible. It wasn’t really until moving to the UK that I became familiar with the concierge sector and from that moment I was hooked.
I’ve worked in luxury lifestyle services for over 12 years, for a number of large corporations and institutions. Gaining huge experience and connections, throughout the world. But during my time, it always felt like something was missing. That there must be a better way to deliver the ultimate experience. As if these organisations, while reputable and efficient, sometimes lacked a certain finesse. They had limitations, such as open hours, capabilities and inspirational ideas. Often, clients left feeling more like customers and less like individuals and their focus had been on quantity over quality.
And that’s when Pique was born. I was determined to do things differently, and better. To bring the extensive reach and knowledge of a large institution, together with the bespoke, intuitive, family feel of a much more intimate and tailored concierge.”
What keeps you motivated every day?
“I’ve always been passionate about quality and sharing those peals of insight with my circle of friends, clients and contacts and in the current social media era, a much wider audience.
And I’ve always loved helping people, making the most of their experiences, so that even a business trip or a short weekend away can deliver something wholly amazing. Being able to have choice is genuinely a luxury.
But I’ve also learned that it’s not always the most expensive or flamboyant things that create that magic. Pique members are often used to experiencing the very best in life, throughout the year, and so are looking for something different on holiday. Sometimes it can be just a simple, unique or unexpected gesture, which leaves the greatest impressions. Finding that special, unquantifiable ‘thing’ that ‘wow’ factor that clients perhaps don’t even know they’re looking for and helping to turn a special trip into the memory of a lifetime, is what pushes me forward.”
Who are Pique’s primary members?
“Traditionally we’ve served members throughout the world, primarily across Europe, UK, and the Middle East, from various sectors, such as larger corporate institutions like hedge funds, trading and shipping companies. However, we’ve noticed more recently that entrepreneurs, diplomats, and those in the arts or medical and academic professions have enjoyed using our services. Having spent most of my formative years and later my professional life, travelling and studying around the world, I’ve been lucky enough to socialise and work with a broad range of individuals with wonderfully diverse backgrounds and incredible life experiences. This has helped me better understand the ever-changing hopes, dreams and ambitions of our members. The more ways we interact with them, the further our capabilities to deliver as a business grow.”
How has the industry changed over the last 2 years?
“It may not surprise everyone to know that most people’s idea of luxury and pampering usually includes some form of foreign travel. Often to stunning, exotic locations, usually secluded islands or the complete opposite from where they live or work. Luxury really has become much more attainable for more people. Technology has helped us make more things happen, links us to places and contacts a lot faster.
It’s also unsurprising to consider that the last 18 months has forced everyone to re-evaluate what’s important to them. We are adapting to the new way of treating ourselves. Spending more time with our loved ones. Finding local adventures and romantic hideaways much closer to home.
Even now, as destinations are opening up again, members’ passions have changed, they’ve redefined what they need to relax and re-energise. We’re seeing an increase in booking flights abroad, but instead of just family trips, many want to meet up with others and engage in smaller groups. I guess most have missed that connection with others and we’re making up for it. We work on ensuring every trip meets entry regulations, which in itself is an additional layer of work for us. But as painstakingly complicated this may be, I treat that as an opportunity to bond further with members and build trust.
So much of the concierge industry used to be primarily focused on travel, now it’s swinging more towards lifestyle luxuries, such as experiences, adventures and relaxation opportunities. Regardless, we are here to save our members time and money, provide added value, and give them unique access to often hard-to-reach A-list events.
And this is where Pique’s unique blend of knowledge, flexibility and intimacy really stands out from my previous experiences of concierge services. Instead of being tied to specific suppliers or partners like other organisations, Pique remain highly agile and flexible, offering a much greater range of experiences and opportunities.
We’ve noticed that members’ expectations have increased. Instead of relaxing Monday to Friday 9-5, as some concierge services operate, our members enjoy a more comprehensive, easy-to-reach service. Being more familiar with our members and getting to know them, by sharing our clients’ ideas and fine tuning their experiences and actually talking to them face to face or via video conferencing, gives a much warmer and inclusive trusted feel.
The concierge experience doesn’t stop with arranging flights and accommodation, for us, that’s just the start of the relationship. It’s far from purely transactional, it’s an ever-growing partnership which is best served with proactive updates and continual improvements.
Do you have any tips for how you like to relax?
“For me it’s largely about travel, I love everything about it, from the airport experience, to the taxi rides, investigating local amenities and taking it easy, exploring new places, cultures and regions. We need time to ourselves and personal space, to reflect and digest everyday intakes. And so, for me, switching off from technology is extremely powerful. Even if it’s just short term, given my job relies heavily on being constantly connected, depending which time zone the clients are in at any given time. But still, unwinding with friends or chilling at home watching a great movie or an inspiration TEDx clip, it’s a great way to re-energise and de-stress.
I’m fortunate to love what I do, as it gives me that rare opportunity to explore my passions while I’m working. It’s one of the best parts of the luxury concierge industry. I travel a lot and while usually being well pampered by our wonderful partners, I’m also picking up tips from them, who are all experts in what they do.
What’s your favourite members’ request?
Our everyday business, yet still far from the ordinary, involves putting together different travel pieces to last-minute or complex itineraries, while making sure their individual needs are met, like seat preferences, special dietary requirements, anniversaries or even cultural/religious limitations like, for example, setting up a hotel room for a Middle Eastern family.
However, a few of our members have put trust in us sorting out various parts of their lifestyles. Arranging for airfreight for a client’s sportscar from the Middle East to London, for example. Or delivering an unescorted puppy dog between two Greek Isles. Sourcing the last remaining bottles of an exclusive French perfume in Provence, no longer in production. Finding the best outdoor space to smoke a cigar in Mayfair. Nothing is impossible.
To find out more about how Pique can deliver that truly exceptional dream for you, get in touch at: email@example.com