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13
Apr

60 seconds with… Con Questa’s Patrick Smit

With 25 years’ experience working as a concierge in two top hotels in Amsterdam – the InterContinental and Waldorf Astoria – the move into events was a natural step for Con Questa owner and founder Patrick Smit. “We started the company about 12 years ago as a concierge service for clients who wanted help with restaurant and hotel reservations, but we have grown to offer a complete range of event services and events are now 50% of our business,” he says. “Our clients range from American Express, for whom we exclusively offer concierge services to Platinum and Centurion card holders in the Netherlands, to our biggest event client Danone, who we organise around 200 events a year for.”

Brand promise…
I think what makes us different is that there are no limits. We do everything, from ticketing to hotels, to tours – it’s a complete service and we can help with anything. Because we started out as a concierge business, I hate to say no to clients, and always try to find a solution. I have built a up a great network of people who I can call on, so if for example the restaurant a client wants is booked, I will find something another solution that is similar.

What’s trending in 2019?
We have the feeling that business is going to get better and better, because people are willing to spend money again and that is a good thing. A lot of our events business remains within Europe – for Danone I’d say around 75% of their events are in Europe – with some events booking further afield in destinations including Dubai and LA.

Luxury defined in 140 characters…
Happiness, health and comfort are all luxury. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive hotel, but the style, quality of food and service are all very important.

Townhouse or treehouse?
I love city trips so for me, it would have to be a townhouse.

The bucket list
I have seen a lot of destinations, but there are many that I would like to go back to and explore further, such as New York and Miami. I would like to see more of South America, Argentina and Chile in particular, and Indonesia as well.

Last meal
Novikov in London is one of my favourites – it offers Asian and Italian and has a great buzz and vibe.

Old fave
The InterContinental Carlton in Cannes is one of my favourite hotels – it’s a beautiful location and always very lively.

Proud moment
I’m really proud of the fact that for the last few years we have doubled our business every year, and of the team we now have, which is full of ex-concierges and people who worked at companies like Quintessentially and Amex, and we’re still growing. Anybody can book a flight or a hotel, but we and go above and beyond provide our clients with the personal touch

Bragging rights…
We work with a lot of celebrities, national and international, from DJs to international football players, and through our contacts and partnerships, we are able to organise some really special requests from cars to after-hours openings of restaurants, museums and stores. It’s not always about the money, sometimes it’s about calling in the favours. It’s all about our connections.

What inspires you?
I am really inspired by businesses like Quintessentially – we compete but also work together. It’s a company that I aim to emulate – I really like their whole concept and product and they have a beautiful website.

Final word…
I have worked in hospitality sector my whole life – for me it’s a way of living. To be a good concierge, you need to be available 24/7, which is not always easy when you have a family. I am used to it, but the good thing with the business growing is that I can now delegate more to the team and spend a bit more quality time with my family.

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