IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 142



International SOS | From East to West
Concierge and
Lifestyle Services
Right from the start Assistance Centres dealt
with lots of non-medical cases. Initially known as
‘technical cases’ these covered home assistance,
auto assistance, language assistance, claims advice,
pre-trip consulting and other travel related services.
We were ideally suited to help in all these situations.
Our staff members were trained to follow protocols
and knew how to deal with clients’ requests – often
in a single call.
Towing services in Sydney,
Australia, mid 2000s.
As people began to travel more to Asia we received
more travel assistance requests – often about lost
travellers cheques and lost or stolen credit cards.
We had a contract with a major credit company
to assist with lost credit cards, and provide other
travel and medical assistance services; this was a
significant contract for a number of years. For
another company we helped their members in
Asia who had lost their travellers cheques. Working
with both these companies taught us a lot about
meeting client needs.
The acquisition of International SOS Assistance
brought in significant new business. For example, in
South Africa, it ran Vodacom Mobile’s 112 emergency
call service for fire, police and ambulance; it dealt
with thousands of calls each day, many of them
helping with people in highly critical situations.
We also worked with many insurance companies
to ‘enhance’ their service offering to their customers.
For example, basic motor accident cover might be
enhanced to include roadside assistance, such as
over the phone diagnosis of problems or sourcing
towing services.
134
We developed networks of plumbers and
electricians to respond to requests for emergency
home repairs, handled claims for insurance
companies, and managed customer enquiry
lines for consumer goods manufacturers and a
chemical company.
This part of our business was profitable and reflected
our entrepreneurial spirit but it also required finding
a lot of suppliers (such as plumbers and mechanics)
which took time and required resources. In around
2008, it was decided to decommission the ’non-core’
services, especially the purely domestic ones. As
contracts ended we did not seek their renewal.
Conscious of the significant opportunities on the
concierge side of the business (a natural extension
of our assistance services) we decided to focus on a
quality service for exclusive groups of clients, such
as ‘platinum’ level loyalty card programmes, banks
and airlines.
Again we progressed through organic growth
and acquisitions. In 2011 we acquired VIP Desk,
founded by Mary Naylor, the North American
provider of industry-leading concierge services,
customer care and loyalty programmes. This was
followed by the purchase of EMSM, the leading
concierge and lifestyle company in South Korea.

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