By Lubna Hamdan
Q&A with founder Christianna Tsiterou
Frustrated by the lack of services that add an "extra touch" to special occasions, gifts, and surprises, Christianna Tsiterou set out to create The Gift Concierge: a personal VIP gift shopping service dedicated to luxury celebratory experiences involving anything from birthdays to wedding registries. Speaking to Arabian Business, she explains how her firm came about and why it is the best way to get the most out of luxury gifting.
How did The Gift Concierge come about? Why did you decide to create it?
The Gift Concierge was born out of my personal need and desire to make experiences and gifting special. And being quite frustrated that in order to do so, from a personal experience, I didn’t only have to source and organise the gifts myself but I also had to source the various providers who could assist me in making the experience and the presentation really special.
While there are concierge services that can do the shopping for you, provided you’re a member in most of them, and there are successful event companies to cater to non-corporate clientele, I couldn’t find the one service that was fully dedicated to creating a special gifting, celebratory experience from start to finish. So that’s why The Gift Concierge came to life, to be able to offer special, dedicated, bespoke, and luxurious celebratory experiences basically.
So what is The Gift Concierge exactly? How does it work?
It is a specialised personal gift shopper service for luxury gifts and special occasions. It offers bespoke solutions for any celebratory moment, be it a birthday, valentine dinner, private event, or wedding registry. So whether someone wants a pair of designer shoes, a diamond necklace, a piece of art, a luxury getaway, or a private event, we make it happen.
There are two ways for people to communicate with us. They can call us directly or go online and provide their details, so first name, last name, email, phone number, and a suitable time for us to call them back. That call will be made within the day provided that the client is available.
Our team then works with the client to decide the best item or experience for the occasion. Then, they source the selected item from local and international brands and package and deliver it to the client or end recipient. The entire process and service is personalised according to the client’s expectations.
Who is your clientele?
We focus on the corporate clientele but also on the individual. A big part of our business is actually the individual, personal gifting element. The business motto is to make our client’s celebration moments a memorable experience all around. Be that an individual or a corporate client, we would work with them in a very similar format. We do the VIP personal shopping as well and then there is the luxury, the exclusive corporate gifting that we also cater for.
As you are Dubai-based, do you only cater to UAE customers?
Initially, we will start by servicing the UAE market with the objective of moving into Saudi Arabia in early 2016. Eventually over the next 24 to 36 months, we’d like to be across the GCC.
You launched in early June this year. How has the response been so far?
Actually, the response has been great, overwhelming in fact. It’s been a lot greater than we even anticipated early on. Of course, it’s one of those services that is promoted by word of mouth. We are confident that the more clients experience our services the more they will talk about it and refer our services to their friends and associates.
You mentioned earlier that existing concierge services failed in providing an extra touch to celebratory moments. What were some of the mistakes of those firms?
One repetitive mistake that we noticed while we were doing the research to set up The Gift Concierge is the response rate and the response time for people to get in touch with you. We actually communicated with most of the concierge services in the region and in a lot of cases, even the most high profile ones took more than two weeks to get back to us, which should really not be the case.
So this is one of the things that we are careful about, making sure that the response rate is within a few hours of the request coming in.
Why did you choose Dubai for a luxury concierge service?
Dubai is and has been home for me for the past 11 years, and the UAE is a country that I know very well. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, so generally the GCC is very close to my heart. In terms of the service per say, the team thought that this is the ideal location to launch such an offering because of the appreciation of luxury and the requirement of bespoke luxury services that is a trend here.