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How Quintessentially’s CEO is redefining luxury travel

Boasting a diverse array of bespoke services, Quintessentially is redefining the luxury travel and lifestyle industry. We speak to its US CEO Lauren Wilt about staying balanced and what truly sets this company apart.

Lauren Wilt

An average day for Lauren Wilt typically starts at the crack of dawn. At her home in Los Angeles, by 6am, she’s on calls with the London team, where Quintessentially’s headquarters are based. But don’t feel bad for her – that’s exactly the way she likes it to be.

“I love that,” she says with a laugh, when speaking to The CEO Magazine. “I’m a morning person, so it’s completely fine.”

In fact, it’s this close connection to other cities, and its extensive global network, that has seen Quintessentially excel. “We get to know our clients through regular phone calls, meetings and the enormous amount of data that we keep in their profile,” Wilt explains.

“So as well as personalisation, you also have localisation. We have 40 offices around the world and are incredibly connected. For example, if we know a member is travelling to Italy with their family, Quintessentially is going to be able to offer them a really personalised and curated service to help them make the most of their trip.

“We’re tapping into our local office, specialists and experts, we’re telling them who the member is, how old their children are, what they like to do, where they like to stay, what they like to eat, and we’re making sure the recommendations and ideas we’re getting back are fitting and inspiring to that particular member.”

Founded by Aaron Simpson, Ben Elliot and Paul Drummond in 2000, the creation of Quintessentially effectively pioneered the concept of lifestyle management. Offering a vast range of services and possibilities, its spectrum includes everything from arranging once-in-a-lifetime holidays and VIP experiences, art advisory for collectors and property sale and purchase assistance to daily support.

Like the world’s best personal assistant, Quintessentially takes the guesswork out of life and travelling for time-poor and high-profile clients (predominantly with a high net worth or ultra-high net worth), and helps “create more space for them to do the things that they love most in their lives”.

Luxury Service

Lauren Wilt

The business itself features three verticals that coexist; first, a tailored luxury concierge service within which “is the one-to-one lifestyle management, where a member joins Quintessentially, and they are paired with both a personal lifestyle manager and a dedicated travel assistant”, according to Wilt.

“The lifestyle manager really builds that relationship with them and discovers where they like to travel, what they like to eat, what their children’s names are, what seat they like on the plane, and then tailors the service and proactivity around that kind of innate understanding of them as an individual.”

Wilt adds that these concierge services are also available from a corporate perspective, whereby high-end companies can choose to provide Quintessentially as a benefit to their senior employees or VIP clients. The second vertical covers travel.

“We are a full-service travel agency,” she explains. “We have hundreds and hundreds of personal relationships with brands, and we’re also part of the Virtuoso network, so that comes with a really nice suite of services, from upgrades and complimentary cocktails to late check outs.”

And the third is Quintessentially’s unique agency side and experiential business-to-business offering, QX, which supports other luxury brands and corporate clients with partnerships and events.

“The one-to-one lifestyle management [is] where a member joins Quintessentially, and they are paired with both a personal lifestyle manager and a dedicated travel assistant.”

“For private events, we bring the high-touch service and incredible attention to detail that our business is renowned for to every element of the highly creative and often large-scale events our members desire.

“For brands and businesses wanting to understand, engage with and retain their high-value audiences, QX has developed a suite of products to help brand clients differentiate themselves to, and build emotional connections with, the highly sophisticated UHNWI market. Notably, in recent years we have found that our expertise in high-touch guest management has become a go-to for many luxury brands.”

Though the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses across the globe to either sink or swim, exposing supply chain issues or the need for technological development, for Quintessentially it proved to be an opportunity to fine-tune its offerings and pivot to different kinds of experiences.

“When the world started to open up, the need for Quintessentially skyrocketed,” Wilt reveals. “People realised that they needed a professional to help them book travel, because it was harder than ever to navigate safe travel.”

In addition, she explains that, given the business is built on a foundation of personalisation with an innately human touch, total digitalisation will never be the answer. “People do not join Quintessentially to work with a chatbot,” she says. “They join to have a conversation with somebody who understands their needs and passions, who knows the luxury market and gets that need for connection and access.

“So that’s remained constant while we’ve refined our benefits and partnerships to respond to change. Twenty years ago, much more materialistic requests were coming through versus now; our members want to take trips that are eco-friendly, or they want to purchase from brands that have a high priority on sustainability. We’ve definitely seen those types of trends shift.”

Perfect Match

Wilt describes joining Quintessentially nine years ago as a “match made in heaven – I instantly fell in love”. So when she was appointed CEO of the United States arm of the business last year, it was the perfect progression. However, that’s not to say that she’s called time on learning – quite the contrary, she now feels even more compelled to grow as a leader and an individual.

“I have an open-door policy, and try to be very honest and thoughtful and lead with integrity,” she explains. “I think, especially in this role, to be able to bring other things to the table is also important. So I’m always listening to podcasts, attending conferences, being present and trying to learn from mentors, members and everything that’s going on in the ever-changing world.”

And while Wilt adores many facets of what she does, she emphasises that her favourite part of working at Quintessentially is interacting with such a fascinating and high-achieving cross-section of society. “I love my job, and feel very fortunate to be able to say that, but I’m inspired every day by our members,” she says with a smile.

“They are at the top of their industries. They are creators, entrepreneurs, CEOs, philanthropists and doctors. These people are what I aspire to be in life. Our team is also so diverse, and comes from so many different backgrounds and perspectives.”

This insatiable drive to do what they do, and carry it out so successfully, largely boils down to the fact that all employees at Quintessentially are bound by a common goal – to offer the best concierge service on the planet – and a common passion.

“I love my job, and feel very fortunate to be able to say that, but I’m inspired every day by our members.”

“We all definitely have the travel bug,” Wilt says. For the woman at the helm, that means balancing a combination of surf trips to “explore parts of the world, like Sri Lanka or Maldives, that I might not have been to otherwise”, and cosmopolitan centres. “I love cities. I love culture. I love going to art museums and shows and experiencing the best food in the world.

“But I think that’s kind of what my life is like at home, too. It’s either being very mindful and relaxed or fast-paced in Beverly Hills.”

Indeed, as necessitated by her demanding role and those sunrise meetings, balance is a recurring theme in Wilt’s life, and something that she prioritises every day without fail.

“The secret to success is to always find 30–40 minutes for yourself every day, whether that is taking a walk, or just sitting outside and breathing fresh air,” she enthuses.

“For me, it’s fitting a quick run in or, on the weekends, being able to go surfing, and finding time to do something for yourself that doesn’t have to do with the other responsibilities. If I take 30 minutes, I will come back to my desk refreshed, and sometimes answers are there waiting for you if you just give yourself time to find them.”

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