Most philosophers, psychologists, and social science experts can admit that the 21st century producer-consumer society has been replaced by one of entertainment and enjoyment. Sure, we haven't entered into any kind of "brave new world", and hedonism hasn't quite become an accepted state of being. But our consumer society is turning into a society of desire. For as long as people have existed, they have always dreamt. From the magic carpet to the private helicopter, from aqua vitae to the fountain of eternal youth, from meeting with God at the burning bush to playing a part in a music video… Always thinking about human desires, both fulfilled and unfulfilled, Elena Filipchenkova, a lifestyle services expert and the head of Aspire Lifestyles in CIS and the Baltic countries, describes the possibilities of the concierge service.

"So, can you really find a pink elephant!?" — Probably the most common though a very annoying question I am asked when it comes to discussion of concierge service and its quality. For the couple of decades that lifestyle manage-ment has been existing in the Russian market in some form or other, we've been booking private jets, ordering unique accessories from famous jewellery and watch makers, purchasing houses and hotels, selling olive groves, setting up expeditions to the North Pole, even arranging a casting at Lady Gaga clip, or agreeing with Stephen Webster on an individual tattoo sketch. Today, though, it seems "pink elephants" are gradually being replaced by pandas…
"I want to present a panda for the birthday of my friend", requested one of our premium customers a couple months back. Wait a minute… A panda!?… A real… you mean a small bear that lives only in the mountain regions of China and Tibet, gets a metre and a half tall, weighs about 100 kilograms and eats 30 kilos of bamboo every day. There are just over 2,000 of them. I can guess right away the request that would follow, and which company would be entrusted with finding that much bamboo and having it delivered to Moscow on a daily basis.
Speaking seriously for a moment, pandas are nearly sacred animals, banned from relocation. In the past, they were passed between states as symbols of diplomacy, and, nowadays, zoos can adopt them for 10 years at a time, provided they've obtained all the necessary permits, built special enclosures, and paid the sum of a million dollars. Oh, but another hope for panda fans has come in the form of a certificate and a year long invitation to a special reserve in China, which allows you to observe the panda and even feed it and hold the little guy in your hands, so long as you've undergone medical checks and wear a special overall. In the event by that time a newborn will appear in the reserve. A chic hotel and a first class flight go along with it.
But the requests of this type are not placed steadily and the fulfillment of which definitely does not represent the service level provided by the company. Some 350,000 requests per year suggest that most clients are looking for nothing special, nothing excessive, but rather stability, clarity, reliability, and confidentiality.

The majority of the companies in our segment strive for "out-of-the-box" thinking, unique services, always keeping their image and brand in mind. But they sometimes forget about the most important thing: the clients, who, most of the time, don't need pandas or pink elephants, but just expecting for their requests to be received at any time of day or night, so that, even during peak season, or in the night at the weekend, their calls are answered within the first 2–3 seconds, so that the customer, who landed in Perm at night is ordered a taxi timely and those who stuck in Hong Kong thanks to a delayed flight, can be admitted to the business lounge, even if the ticket is for economy class. This is what makes a valuable customer experience. It's necessary to learn to satisfy and anticipate the customer expectations. They shouldn't have to worry whether their business meeting at breakfast will be booked for the right time, or if their Mother's Day flowers will be delivered, regardless of the destination, or if the limousine to the theatre will be on time, and the seats are with the full view of the stage.
The client shouldn't have reason to doubt that the concierge service's same level of diligence and unfaltering quality also applies to family celebrations or a visit to the recently opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi, that help will be provided in the case of medical emergencies, if a loved one has got into a motorcycle accident in a Thai village, that he'll be suggested a clinic when he needs to detox, even from social media. All of these factors, though, make it clear that the "ideal business" for me is no utopia at all. It could never get boring.
Do I believe in ideal service, or is it merely a utopia?! I do believe… no doubts! It's just that we all have our own paragons.
So does ideal service exist for someone like me, a professional person, quite a perfectionist, and not so easy to please? It sure does, and it’s definitely not about a "pink elephant," or a "panda," but, the so called wow-factor, when you’re surprised by something you hadn’t expected… When a hotel you stayed being pregnant 13 years ago brings a cake with the photo of you and your daughter on it and a postcard that reads "Welcome back home!", or when you're going to your favourite beauty salon to get your make-up done and the stylist goes out of the way to pick up the best paints for your Halloween look, or maybe, when a hotel driver, taking you from a country house in the suburbs of Rostov-on-Don to the airport, unexpectedly hands you a package full of homemade marmalade and wild duck and deer pate, saying "This is from our farm, so you can remember us in Moscow! Have a great flight!"

And I do remember.