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History of the Independent Concierge Industry

ICLMNet's Founder, Katharine Giovanni, is credited by many to be one of the original founders of the independent concierge industry.


The Independent Concierge Industry has emerged as quite a force as local concierge companies can be found in almost every major city around the world. Companies around the world are offering concierge services as part of their employee benefits package, and real estate management companies are putting concierge desks in their residential and commercial properties. No longer just a service for the wealthy, concierge are targeting every demographic you can think of. 

It wasn't always this way. Although hotel concierge have been around for decades, independents just came on the scene about 20 years ago.

In 1998, a handful of pioneers discovered the world of the independent concierge and Katharine Giovanni was one of them. If you looked around the U.S. back then, you might have found two dozen independent concierge companies, but certainly no more than that. Sensing a need, Katharine propelled her meeting planning business into something more cutting edge: a company that offered concierge services to an eclectic range of industries that had yet to discover the world of the concierge.

As she and her husband Ron began Triangle Concierge (now called The Giowell Group) it soon became apparent that there were no resource materials available on the market to help them get started. There were no books on the subject or consultants to approach. Frankly, she was unable to locate any helpful information at all. It took a few months to teach herself how to start a concierge service (truly the ultimate of self-taught). 

Almost immediately, the telephone started to ring. First, one call, then ten. People started calling and emailing from all over the world asking Katharine to spare just a moment of her time to tell them how she had started her business. So she told them. Katharine spent hours answering each question as best as she could. Until one day, Ron overheard her mentoring a caller and asked, “Why are you doing this for free?”

Good question.

So, based on her expertise in meeting planning, concierge work, and the fact that she had started two successful companies, she decided to write The Concierge Manual, a guide on how to start your own concierge business. Just because she had learned everything the hard way didn’t mean that others had to, plus there was a huge information gap on the subject.

Once the book began to sell, the phone calls increased dramatically in a matter of weeks. Katharine received calls and emails from all over the world, from people wanting more services and information, asking more questions, and needing more help. Since she was now spending 90 percent of her time consulting and 10 percent trying to grow her local concierge business, they decided to turn Triangle Concierge into a full time concierge consulting business and let go of their local concierge business.

In 2000, several of her Canadian clients called her and asked if she would ever consider forming a group for independent concierge. At the time, there was only a few associations in the United States and all of them were for hotel and corporate concierge, not independents. Why? Mostly because there was no independent concierge industry as yet. Later that year, Katharine founded the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association (ICLMA), the first association that targeted independent concierge companies. About 30 people joined in those early days and an industry was born.

Sadly, in 2012 Katharine contracted stage 3 breast cancer and had to retire from ICLMA to concentrate on her health. A few years later, ICLMA's board of directors closed the association (the group never recovered from the recession).

In 2016, Katharine came back completely healthy and went on to create ICLMNet – The International Concierge & Lifestyle Management Network. 

Today, Katharine can be found training companies around the world on how to offer concierge-level service. An award-winning author of six books, she offers train the trainer programs, online classes, and more. To contact her, please visit www.ICLMNet.com and www.KatharineGiovanni.com



Click here to get your copy of Katharine's book "The Concierge Manual". (Available in paperback and as an immediate download)

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