Web Presence Gives Virtual Boost

Web Presence Gives Concierge Firm a Virtual Boost
Andrea Cecil, Daily Record
January 5, 2004 - Charm City Concierge boasts of arranging for 253,972 Orioles tickets; 213, 975 floral arrangements; 192,392 catered affairs; 173,279 laundered shirts; 97 Elvis impersonators; and one kangaroo costume.
Now the Baltimore company is calling its "virtual concierge service" for corporate clients a success, making tickets, flowers, catering, shirts, Elvis and kangaroos available via the Web.

The 29-person firm that provides more than 100 types of services launched the corporate virtual service last month following the introduction of its residential service in early 2003. It recorded more than $2 million in revenue last year.
"I know that it's been well received, and people ask us to either place orders or get information," said Nancy Green, vice president of privately held Charm City Concierge.

And starting an Internet-based program showed the company just how much business it was losing.
"We were definitely missing out on opportunities because we've gotten more inquiries for contracts and requests for proposals since starting the Web site," she said. "Inquiries have quadrupled. ... More people are able to find us and learn about our company."
The company has about 25,000 corporate clients and 3,000 residential customers. It was unknown how many of the company's clients use its virtual service, where customers can order flower arrangements, find a pet-sitter or hire a housecleaner.
Charm City Concierge made the move to Web-based services because "we were looking for ways to really enhance our service," Green said.

Thus far, Charm City Concierge's virtual service has been particularly beneficial for companies with about 200 employees or fewer that don't need a full-time concierge. Large locations, such as Legg Mason at 100 Light St., and several office parks in Columbia require full-time concierges for better communication, she said.
Web members also receive a newsletter, monthly calendar of events, concierge events, special savings and promotions, as well as restaurant of the month and service of the month.
Baltimore Magazine named the company Best Corporate Concierge Service in 2002, and The Daily Record and Arthur Anderson's Urban Enterprise named it one of Baltimore's top 25 Fastest-Growing Companies in 1999.