Elite lifestyles require an elite approach, and for those whose schedules require a little something more than a calendar, there is Quintessentially, the world's leading lifestyle management company
Marina de Coatgoureden founded the events agency division of Quintessentially, the global luxury lifestyle group, in Dubai in 2013.
Seven years later, Marina is now CEO of Quintessentially in the Middle East, leading five offices in the region. Pioneers of the experiential, and now connectivity economy, Quintessentially caters to a members-only community of successful and influential individuals and the world’s leading brands and businesses.
Like having the very best personal assistant, Quintessentially helps its members seize the most from life; getting them organised, giving them inspiration and keeping them on the inside track. The business has 60 offices worldwide and a membership of over 160,000 clients across its international network.
What does lifestyle management at Quintessentially encompass?
We look after all elements of our members’ lives and focus on helping to save our members time while connecting them to incredible experiences around the world.
From recommending and booking restaurants, organising travel plans and holidays, sourcing tickets for shows and sporting events, finding nannies, housekeepers, tutors or music teachers, to finding properties, curating art collections, helping with last minute gift requests, or even organising weddings. Our Lifestyle Managers are available all over the world, 24 hours a day, every day of the year to help with any practical request or unusual whim.
Quintessentially boasts specialisms in travel, education, real estate, personal shopping, art, events, weddings and wine – which is the most popular segment here in the region?
Globally within the group, Travel is our biggest service provider. We are members of the travel industry’s most powerful leading luxury network, Virtuoso, and boast connections with over 1,000 of the world’s finest hotels in 150 countries.
One of the strongest trends we are seeing in the region is self-discovery through mindfulness and wellness travel. In the digital age, the need to disconnect might be the biggest luxury of all. Back-to-nature experiences and wellness retreats in Asia and Europe are proving increasingly popular, as our members look to regroup and recharge.
In the Middle East, our event agency is also very much in demand, and delivers over 85 events annually for luxury brands, corporate partners and government clients. Due to our understanding of and insight into HNWIs, we can curate extraordinary brand experiences, populated by the perfect guest list: our members. Understanding HNWI’s behavioural patterns is essential to achieving excellence in the luxury sector.
What are the key traits you look for in your team?
A willingness to be collaborative and work together – to listen and learn from each other. We always look for the ability to change direction easily, someone who is ready and able to re-approach and re-set things from a new angle, if needed.
Most of all, we look for passion and drive – a desire to learn, and the ability to find new opportunities and ideas in setbacks. Someone who is curious, enthusiastic and willing to get stuck in will, in my opinion, always go far.
How are members vetted and accepted?
There is an application for membership, but its primary aim is to ensure the individual is suited to the service and that we can assist with all their requirements.
For the elite client base who can easily afford most material items, it’s true that unique and memorable experiences are especially valued. What are some of the notable experiences curated by Quintessentially for your top clients?
We recently arranged an elaborate birthday celebration in the Maldives for the wife of one of our members. The evening started with a professional photoshoot for the couple on the beach during sunset, followed by a romantic dinner on a nearby private island.
We organised for violinists, saxophonists, dancers and a grand piano to be flown in especially for the evening to perform during the dinner. The finale was a spectacular firework display that took place during dessert.
How challenging is it to grow a business of this nature in current economic climates?
It can be challenging, but having such a strong brand name and global presence, as well as more than 20 years of experience and connectivity in the industry, enables us to gain unprecedented access.Within our group we have specialists whose roles include nurturing relationships across specific sectors.
Restaurant reservations, for instance, are one of highest requests, so we have individuals dedicated to this, working with both major hospitality groups and more niche restaurants on a daily basis, building relationships, partnerships and opportunities. In the last year we have raised the bar and are proud to have doubled our private membership within the UAE.
How do you encourage a climate of creativity amongst your team in terms of creating a portfolio of experiences, unique moments and events?
Curiosity is key! Our teams all over the world are constantly monitoring trends, and staying close to the passions, desires and changing habits of our members, who inform so much of what we do. Whether it be exploring the latest hotels or local restaurant openings, meeting new floral or jewellery designers, spending time with top chefs or bespoke milliners, the more wonderful gems and new experiences our team are connecting to, the more passion and inspiration we can share with our members and partners.
A diverse workforce is also deeply important, so we ensure we have team members from all different backgrounds, of different ages and with different experiences and opinions, who can bring broad thinking, excitement and energy to the table.
Quintessentially has a philanthropy division – how active is it here in the middle east, and do members get involved?
Philanthropy is a huge passion point for our members. Our Quintessentially Foundation was established and is still spearheaded by our Co-Founder Ben Elliot in 2008, and has raised a staggering USD13 million for charities, through unique and innovative events. Many of our members from the Middle East have participated in these events around the world, and we look forward to hosting more local philanthropic experiences in Dubai in the coming months.
What is your leadership style?
I try to be open, honest and fair, yet also decisive. I always listen and encourage feedback and the sharing of ideas. I learnt early on to trust my own instincts, and not to be afraid of waiting and reassessing if the situation or decision doesn’t feel right.
As I’ve risen up through the business, there is little I haven’t experienced across every touchpoint – from understanding member requests and servicing, to helping curate bespoke experiences or major lifestyle events. I feel I have a good understanding of all the elements that make up our multi-faceted business, and this offers an added advantage when troubleshooting with the team or considering best practices to enhance all of our services.
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