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When money is no object on the road

By Nick Easen for CNN

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If you need a boat in Cannes to entertain clients, it is just a phone call away.
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(CNN) -- If you need to entertain a client on a yacht in Monaco, or fly six crates of rum to Madagascar to clinch a deal, there are only a few people or organizations you can turn to.

Now, for a few thousand dollars a year, you can sign up for an array of upscale concierge services which will arrange a pedicure, book a top restaurant or get a ticket to a sports event.

Staff are usually on call 24 hours a day, are familiar with pandering to the needs of celebrities -- as well as top executives -- and capable of answering the most bizarre requests.

"(Members) want to make one call and it is all sorted," Aaron Simpson, chief executive of Quintessentially, a UK-based concierge service, told CNN.

"We had to hire a private jet from Japan to bring (someone's) dog and a minder for the dog. It is bizarre and it is not the run of the mill thing."

The company attends to the needs of 3,000 clients, including celebrities such as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Yearly membership costs $1,000 a person.

However, the price of services can escalate. A personal account manager costs upwards of $3,000, and if you want hand holding in an international city, then the price tag can go as high as $50,000.

It helps that some companies have strategic partnerships with hotels, travel companies, theaters, spas, gyms and a host of luxury brands that provide discounts along the way.

"It is access that is impossible to get, to events like the Emmy Awards or (movie) premieres in London, Paris and New York, or Milan fashion shows -- those sort of things that are so unique. So we sell access," says Simpson.

"We have had extraordinary requests. We rented Concorde for a private birthday party to go to the Bahamas -- it cost $1 million each way."

People who have worked in the hotel and hospitality trade usually branch off into independent concierge services.

Frenchman Pascal Riffaud is one of them. He founded Personal Concierge International back in 1994 after working as a concierge at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.

He now arranges travel schedules, acts as a personal assistant, a protector of privacy and an all-round fixer.

"Once people start tasting what a concierge service can do for them, they have a different aspect on life," Riffaud told the New York Post newspaper.

"It makes people feel important. And people like to feel important."

Good connections are another prerequisite in this business. It gives the concierge companies more leverage when they need to find those front seats at a concert opening.

In the case of Quintessentially, Simpson is a former film producer and the company's co-founder is the nephew of Camilla Parker-Bowles.

CNN's Meara Erdozain contributed to this report


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