Designing exclusive experiences
Getting to know Lisbon through some of the capital’s experts is the idea behind the new premium XN Concierge service.
Exclusivity is intrinsically linked to the most recent department of Xana Nunes’ XN Lifestyle Group. Having worked in the organisation of events and press relations for renowned brands like Cartier, Hermès and Prada for over 20 years, the company decided to introduce XN Concierge, a new service which aims to meet clients’ challenging demands, going beyond the obvious to offer a custom-made service.
“This project is taken on by a department that in a sense already existed. When we held events for brands and we had groups of four or five people come, we would show them the best the city or the country has to offer,” Xana Nunes points out.
“There are so many secrets yet to be unveiled, not only for tourists but for us, too. Sometimes we are rushing around so much that we don’t have time to see what is going on around us.”
Concierge arose following the experience XN Lifestyle Group gained from LisbonWeek, a cultural project the company produced five years ago in partner- ship with the Lisbon City Council.
“Concierge amounts to a LisbonWeek fused with luxury experience. While LisbonWeek is a more accessible experience for everyone, serving almost as a patronage, this service is for a more demanding public,” Xana Nunes explains.
Rosa Mello do Rego, an event producer with two over decades of experience producing arts events in London, will be leading the department. “We decided Rosa Mello do Rego would be the ideal person to host the public international audience we are expecting. And she is someone who had the exact same experience as me, but in London,” Xana Nunes points out.
Nunes believes this service stands out because of the professionals involved. “We started to design this project a year ago. We carried out market research and we couldn’t find any companies that offered experiences that were as luxurious and rigorous as ours, and that had the team and the know-how we have,” Xana Nunes explains.
“There are tonnes of travel agencies and the hotel concierges have competent people working for them, but there is no competition for the connections we have and the professionals we work with. We are the first to work in such a dedicated way: they are unique discoveries, custom made, for smaller groups, with specialists in different fields.” It is this multi-disciplinarity that this businesswoman believes is the “secret and the soul of the business”.
“We are identifying partners and regular contributors, like olisipographers [experts who study Lisbon], art historians, art curators, chefs, specialists in various areas like tiles and churches, and even locals. Our team is the key. The objective is not only to discover the country, but also to live like a local and learn through our experts,” Xana Nunes explains.
“For clients that want to go shopping, for instance, there are extraordinary shops in Lisbon which we have access to. And it’s not only about visiting a certain Portuguese designer’s shop, it’s also about interacting with the designer. From Arraiolos rugs to Peniche’s patchwork quilts, and even the tiles from Viúva Lamego, we offer a fantastic 3-day experience that enables the discovery of our marvellous manufacture.”
To launch this project, XN Concierge came up with six different themes: Discover Secret Portugal; Around the Earth; Art-Astic!; Lisbon Night Manager; Shopping Perfection and the Ocean.
“We have really innovative experiences. We started with these six proposals and our idea is to continue launching new ideas and to explore them. The historical part depends on the person’s interest, we have specialists for people interested in a specific period or in a type of monument. And we also offer lighter experiences,” Xana Nunes adds.
“For instance, there may be two couples arriving in Lisbon, one likes Fado and the other likes Hip Hop. We have people who know exactly what is happening in the city, like concerts or performances. And for our Ocean theme, we don’t just take people to do kite-surf, surf or fishing but we also introduce them to our sea food,” Xana Nunes adds.
“The Art-astic! theme has to do with contemporary art, and the intention is for people not only to discover galleries and national artists but also to interact with them. The Around the Earth experience takes us to the Alentejo… We are going to invite people to take a break from their phones and go back to their origins, participating in harvesting or picking olives and interacting closely with the enologist.”
All programmes are custom-made. “Recently, one of our clients wanted to have both a gastronomic and an art experience and we designed that programme. It started with a visit to the local fish market early in the morning, where they chose the fish which they would later have for lunch, made by a chef who they also had the chance to talk to. And then they also had the chance to get to know several Portuguese artists.”
While all team members are Portuguese, the company works with partners around the country in order to expand experiences throughout the national territory.
“The idea was to have a team working in the Algarve and another in the north,” Xana Nunes points out.
Nunes believes this project gathers all the right ingredients for a promising future.
“This platform has just been launched and we are already getting so much demand that I believe it will be really successful. It responds to a current trend and to a common need.”