“What does this button do?”
If you have enough money, you can spend the hassle out of almost anything.
Luxury hotels are well-accustomed to dealing with the outlandish requests of their well-heeled guests; travel concierge outfits offer the super rich the simplicity of a life almost totally unplanned. Why hail cabs, reserve tables or book flights, when all of these things can be done for you?
Where the luxury experience falters is, oddly enough, at one’s own front door. Excepting the few who choose to engage full-time butlers, the super-rich experience a compromised luxury at home.
Luxury property developers have noted the shortfall and responded. The 86 apartments in One Hyde Park feature 24-hour concierge service from the adjacent Mandarin Oriental Hotel, part of a general trend towards offering hotel-style service to cater to every whim.
Nevertheless, there are limits to what such a concierge service can achieve. A five star hotel across the road can only do so much – and not every development has a five star hotel across the road.
Technology can pick up some of the slack, by obviating the need for hands-on service. The specification of new apartments and hotels with technology – security systems, media centres, lighting and air conditioning – is a booming industry, but often such specification is done badly.
High-end customers have the means and the desire for bespoke systems that allow them to control everything in their home effortlessly. Usually, however, they are sold bells and whistles instead. Luxury apartments feature televisions that pop up from the foot of the bed, or showers that can be turned on with a clap and a pirouette. Rarely do they feature simple, effortless interfaces.
Yet it is this effortlessness that luxury customers crave – a ‘life beautifully arranged’, as luxury phone and concierge company Vertu put it; an experience rather than a feature. Property developers can differentiate themselves by delivering that experience.