En­rich life­style of the rich

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By DU JUAN du­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

When a largely global com­pany does busi­ness through re­al­iz­ing peo­ple’s dreams, what chal­lenges will they face in China? One is be­gin­ning to find out. As­pire Life­styles, a global brand for concierge ser­vices and life­style man­age­ment, owned by med­i­cal and travel se­cu­rity risk com­pany In­ter­na­tional SOS, started to en­rich the lives of wealthy Chi­nese by open­ing an of­fice in Shang­hai in Novem­ber.

It’s tar­get­ing the world’s sec­ond­largest econ­omy where there is a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple with lots of spare money.

Yu Huan, a 28-year-old whitecol­lar worker in Bei­jing, said he was very much in­ter­ested in the ser­vices that As­pire Life­styles can pro­vide.

“I haven’t heard about a com­pany like this be­fore. It sounds ex­pen­sive but fun,” he said.

Yu plans to hold his wed­ding on an is­land not open to the pub­lic in the Caribbean Sea, set­ting a bud­get of 3 mil­lion yuan ($491,500) as a max­i­mum.

“I want all my friends and fam­ily to be there, en­joy­ing a nice buf­fet with a nice sea view. Fire­works are a must dur­ing the wed­ding, as well as a ro­man­tic set­ting,” he said. “I hope the com­pany can ar­range all the de­tails from book­ing the flights to get­ting ap­proval for the rights to hold the wed­ding on the is­land.”

Lau­rent Sabourin, group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for As­pire Life­styles, said such wishes are man­age­able based on the com­pany’s strong net­work.

“Chi­nese cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions are in­creas­ing at a fast rate,” he said. “Our com­pany pro­vides ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and ex­clu­sive plans to help peo­ple know what is avail­able to them.”

The global concierge ser­vice in­dus­try is a $1.5 bil­lion mar­ket, mostly cen­tered in the United States. But it is far from be­ing a ma­ture in­dus­try in China.

“How­ever, we be­lieve within a few years, the Chi­nese mar­ket will be­come as im­por­tant as the US is to us,” said Sabourin. “We ex­pect dou­ble-digit growth in the China mar­ket in the com­ing years.”

By the end of 2012, China had more than 1.05 mil­lion peo­ple with a per­sonal wealth of 10 mil­lion yuan ($ 1.6 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to Keynes Chen, gen­eral man­ager of As­pire Life­styles China.

“Ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble here,” he said.

Ser­vices of­fered by the com­pany in­clude ar­rang­ing one-onone con­ver­sa­tions for clients to com­mu­ni­cate with the world’s top de­sign­ers at Paris Fash­ion Week or get­ting the chance to learn cook­ing from the finest star chefs.

Among var­i­ous kinds of re­quire­ments and de­mands from Chi­nese clients, Chen said the most pop­u­lar concierge ser­vices in China in­clude be­spoke travel de­sign, high-end health man­age­ment, over­seas study and the pur­chase of lux­ury items.

Ac­cord­ing to Sabourin, shop­ping needs are some­times as ur­gent as med­i­ca­tion.

In re­cent years, lux­ury goods are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar among the new rich in China.

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