x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Concierge business all started with the sale of a Jeep

Karim Chbib is the founder and chief executive of UniK Concierge, a luxury lifestyle-management company he launched in 2009 after selling his second car.

Karim Chbib says he has never seen himself doing anything but what he does today. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Karim Chbib says he has never seen himself doing anything but what he does today. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Karim Chbib is the founder and chief executive of UniK Concierge, a luxury lifestyle-management company he launched in 2009 after selling his second car. Originally from Switzerland, where his parents owned a hotel, Mr Chbib says he is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was in the concierge industry 30 years ago.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I started by selling my second car - a Jeep for the desert - and invested the money in the launch of my company. Afterwards, it was mostly saving what the company earned for any future planned expansion.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I am mostly in the middle. I think life is short and every minute is worth living. However, I do understand the value of money and how hard it is to earn it. This is the way I was raised. I love to make my entourage happy and being in the concierge industry, I am constantly organising trips and events for them. I am not the kind of person who puts everything in a savings account, but rather enjoy having a good holiday or a good meal, within reason.

Have you made any financial mistakes?

As every entrepreneur will say: yes. However, I am lucky to have been very well advised, so the impact was only minimal.

What is your philosophy towards money?

It is important to have enough to live and that varies for everyone. In my case, I believe it is a reward for hard work.

What has been your most valuable financial lesson?

Save more than you want because money is a very volatile mistress and can disappear faster than it comes in.

Why did you set up UniK Concierge?

My entire family had been in the hospitality business and I grew up with it. At an early age, I was working at my parents' hotel and later I studied at the Hotel Management School of Lausanne. I have never seen myself doing something other than what I do today. My grandfather was in the concierge industry 30 years ago and this definitely had an impact on my decision. I absolutely love to provide a high level of service to my clients and have them happy with it. Dedication and quality are my mantra.

You recently relaunched the company. Why?

I would not say we have relaunched it. We have actually expanded UniK Concierge by introducing new services as an online platform to meet today's technology, market expectations and trends. The decision came from the growing demand of our clientele due to the strong need for fast responses and easy booking services.

How has the concierge industry changed over the years?

Because of the growing demand of our clientele, we had to redefine the way we offer our services. Nowadays, people want quick responses, quick turnaround and quality services. We live in a world where technology is improving every day and time is precious. We needed to combine both efficiency of quick service on an easy-to-use online platform. You are only one click away from booking a hotel, private chalet, shopping trip, helicopter tours, a nanny for the kids during your holiday, a ski instructor and a lot more. The platform is a combination of Expedia.com with high-end concierge services. The client will be able to have their own concierge virtually or by phone to customise the details of their trip. We are really redefining the meaning of classic concierge services and adapting to our current society using new technologies and a fun application.

What do you like to invest in?

Mostly real estate and diamonds.

Do you plan for the future?

Of course. I am still only 27 years old, but I have started to prepare for a family and keep them safe from harm.

What do you like to spend on?

That's a tricky question. Mostly on my hobbies, but mainly on the financial markets to make my money grow.

fglover@thenational.ae