Update: I hereby rescind the update I made in my Circuit City post: Office Depot has not pulled their creepy hand spots yet. Maybe they’re taking the tack that any exposure is good exposure, in which case I feel sorry for them (but not enough to shop there 🙂 )
Back when I was blogging about Gentoo being a development platform more than a user platform, I got an email from Stuart telling me about a book he’d read called The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. He was very sweet (Stuart, not Mr. Anderson, though he might be well be sweet, I just don’t know him) and even offered to buy the book for me if I put it on my Amazon wishlist (no link, because I don’t actually have one).
A few weeks later, I found it at a book fair where I used to work and picked it up. It took me a few more weeks to finish it, but I did finish it shortly before we left for Jamaica. I found the book to be quite interesting and compelling, and exactly in line with my own thoughts on where commerce is (or should be?) heading.
When we were looking into resorts and all-inclusives in the Caribbean last summer, we discovered a nice place in Ocho Rios, Jamaica that offered very decent rates. So basically, for the amount that we would’ve paid for a basic room in the Bahamas got us a fairly high-end room in Jamaica. So we decided to opt with Jamaica because we’d get more luxury for the buck. Boy were we in for a surprise. We thought we were getting a private type affair, with less people per pool, and a great view and location on the premises. Being an all-inclusive, food and tips were included. Drinks were also included. So at any bar, any restaurant at any time of day, you can get your favourite drink.
What we actually got, then, was all the stuff we expected — the less populated chalet and more private pool, fantastic view, brilliant location, free food and drink, and then also a free minibar in the room. So we had champagne, red & white wines, rum, vodka, beer, a whole bunch of juices, ginger ale and bottled water. Every morning, they replenished it for us. We thought that was just what they did, but it turned out that our “level” of room came with that. And finally, we got concierge service. So, when we got off the bus at the hotel, we got whisked into a private office with champagne and plush chairs and they checked us in.etc. And for our tours and excursions etc, they made all the bookings for us and picked up the tickets etc. They also arranged our check-outs and all of that. Essentially, it was personalised service for maybe a hundred odd dollars more (total). For a few hundred dollars more we could have gotten butler service, but I shied away from that, because it makes me a bit uncomfortable.
In sum, it was a fantastic experience and well worth it. We’ll do it again, but first we’ll explore different places and different hotels in the coming years.
I noticed last night a new set of commercials for Progressive Insurance (which, by the way, doesn’t even exist in this state, so totally not an option for us). They’re offering concierge service there as well. Now, when you’re in a car wreck, you call them. They’ll pick you up and take care of getting your car towed to wherever and getting it fixed, yadayada.
The commercial spot was great — everyone was whispering because they did not want to wake up the sleeping baby who slept through the accident. Quite well done, actually, but mostly because it’s a service that the others don’t advertise. In California, it turns out, they don’t care for this.
And, on the theme of cars and being picked up, Enterprise car rentals has been doing it for years, where you call them and they’ll pick you up. But for taking car rentals “out of the box” (someone shoot me now for that lingo), ZipCar is the best model I’ve seen. You get a membership, call them, and then go pick up your car at some predetermined location. You just wzve your credit card at it, and it unlocks. When you’re done, you just bring it back to that spot or at some other predetermined spot and walk away. It’s nice to dispense with going all the way out to the airport or whatever to return your car.
There’s more to be said on this subject, so I’ll continue that in the next article.
Oh, I almost forgot to explain the cryptic title of this post, which is all about concierge services. It turns out that The Concierge was the working title of that Michael J. Fox movie. I could probably dedicate an entire series of blog posts on Mr. Fox, who’s simply fantastic, but I’ll leave you with this: why isn’t Family Ties on DVD yet?