Few people operate in the rarified world of solving problems that can’t be solved for the most demanding of elite clientele in the world.
FabUK had the opportunity to speak with Niko Contardi, about his role as “fixer for the few”. As the founder of EliteLyfe, does what needs to be done to make life for his mostly Billionaire clients that much easier.
What exactly does EliteLyfe do?
We are a travel concierge but, ultimately, we are what Walt Disney did for kids—bring them to the playground and let them run wild with their imaginations. Instead, we do that for billionaire clients around the world from private jets, villas, super yacht, renting or buying islands.
If you wanted to race with an F1 driver or get baptized by the Pope and then have dinner at the Vatican, we would be able to arrange it for you.
I started the company eight years ago because I wanted to encompass all things luxury so that we can have a one stop shop for our clients.
We have contacts with jewelry companies, watches or denim companies, and much more.
Initially, we started out just booking people’s villas, then we moved into superyachts, and then be-spoke concierge services.
When the business started to evolve, I began to notice that all our 100 millionaire and billionaire clients’ main need was time. That is the most important asset that we all have—time—and we all have the same 24 hours per day.
So, essentially, take what they love and understand every detail of it, and make sure everything flows flawlessly.
I had high net worth clients in London who had an event and I had to work 22 hours behind the scenes. When the clients showed up, it was all flawless. They didn’t get to see all the exchange of different drivers and everything else. They didn’t have to endure any of the craziness that went into making it happen.
What is the most opulent thing you have been asked to do or source?
I had a client in a super yacht who requested 100 girls dressed like mermaids.
I also had a client who had dinner at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican city.
Noting surprises me anymore!
Do you oversee everything or do you have a team of people?
I have partnerships in every area of the world that I work with prior to my clients arriving so that it goes smoothly on their arrival. Everything has to be like clockwork.
We have a travel designer that is personalized for every client and we take notes of every preference that they require from the type of water, car, champagne, dinning preferences, to the type of driver. This is so that, in the future, we can understand their needs without the client saying it.
What is the key to EliteLyfe?
Our slogan is “Live Lyfe,” and we spell it L-Y-F-E. We coined the Y portion of it. We want people to understand that all encompass travelling from the jet to the villa and the superyacht. It all gets confusing and time consuming to coordinate a booking and it gets scary to send 200 000 to 300 000 in one go to a business on the other side of the country, so we take a lot of the work out of it for our clients.
We create an internal relationship with the client; hence, they trust us and our partnerships with the right services. For example, we are negotiating on a yacht purchase for 150 million to 200 million euros and the client is trusting me to make sure we get the right price and everything that he needs without any hassle. However, if he goes to them directly, they will shove any yacht down his throat without any concern for his needs. If you want a fast Italian yacht, rather than a Lürrsen that’s a Dutch or German build because its they perform differently on the water, then we will make sure you get what you desire for the right price.
How has EliteLyfe been coping in these pandemic times?
When the pandemic hit the first three to six months, there was a huge decrease in business. It was scary. People wanted their money back and there was a lot of cancelations. No one was prepared for something like this to happen. But suddenly, after the 6-month period, people started to slowly book luxury villas for longer periods of time. Yacht charter started increasing and jet charter went up by 150%.
Flying private jet has become the norm during the pandemic for safety in the luxury world.
The only difficult part during the pandemic was the ever changing regulations where vaccination and PCR tests are concerned.
It’s like a puzzle piece and we try to make it all fit by being highly organized and working directly with the airlines.
What makes it tricky is that we still don’t know the international accepted basic performance.
What is the most in-demand service for you right now?
The highest demand has been for private jets but the bread and butter has been super yachts and luxury villas.
Last year, I rented the Flying Fox 136 meters superyacht for 3 million euros per week and I was personally there with the clients to make sure everything ran smoothly . Chartering a yacht is a new way of travelling for my clients as the scenery changes when you get to a new port and it’s safer. Once you are vaccinated, you can go to more places; islands and ports included.
We have done really well with Turks and Caicos, Saint Barths, Cabo, the Caribbean, Mexico, Ibiza, Mykonos, Italy.
Where is home for you given that your company is worldwide?
I started EliteLyfe in San Diego California, which is where I grew up. Then I lived in LA for seven years and now I live in Miami. It’s amazing because Miami is closer for me to travel to Caribbean. I can get to London or Europe quickly as well.
What is the goal for EliteLyfe?
Our main goal is to create a community of people who wants to travel in the best way but also share it with others while ultimately making their lives easier. As a result, they will have seamless experiences from start to finish. We make sure to give them the best thing to do in the area or ensure that the chef knows their exact preferences, their favorite alcohol, and so on.
EliteLyfe is creating a unique software where it’s a one stop shop, all within one booking system for villas, superyachts, jets, hotels, cars, and more.
We are unique in the sense that we can do everything within one order.
Being an owner of a lifestyle company, what is magic to you?
My favorite thing is curating a difficult request and making it happen—bringing it all together. We have so many crazy requests that are time sensitive and bringing every client’s desires to reality and on time is true magic to me. The cherry on top is the feedback that I get from clients about how amazing the experience was and that they’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Trust me, after all that work to make it happen, a thank you note makes it all worth it..
How do you deal with negative feedback?
In the beginning, it was tough. I took it personally as it was harsh when I was being shouted at and yelled at. When you have so many moving pieces in different parts of the world, with different people—for example, the driver picking the client up is running ten minutes late or is in the wrong location—the smallest thing can be a problem. I totally understand this, especially if you’ve been on the plane for hours. But now I’ve figured out how to decipher it. I break it down and I say let’s fix it.
For example, I have a client right now in Maui, Hawaii, who was booked to be next to the beach. Once they got there, they were next to the cliff. I got a call from them saying, “I can’t believe you did this.” They were getting angry and I immediately called the place and fixed it! They made sure to go above and beyond as there was an error on their part. I communicated that with my client and apologized and they were happy again.
It is important to manage expectations as things will go wrong at some point. It is how you find solutions that is the key to dealing with negative feedbacks. It’s also important to have safety nets so it doesn’t go completely wrong.
What technology and strategy do you use to execute?
I am creating a software right now for reservations on a CRM managing system.
The software will be useful to many other concierge as they will just have to put their logos in and pay a small fee to go through the thousands of villas and many other services. I want to make people’s life easier and more efficient.
Right now, we use many different technology but the goal for us is to use an all-encompassing software in the future.
The software will have one reservation system—a live inventory of what is available around the world.
The future is in technology. I can see that in the near future, I will be sending you a VR tour of a superyacht before you book it or buy it.
What sort of things have you been asked to do for your clients?
Niko: Everything from dinner in the Sistine chapel Vatican city right after being baptized by the Pope to hiring the super yacht Flying Fox and then having breakfast at your own private Island for the week.
If you want the most luxurious experience in the world, then you would call Niko Contardi the Billionaire broker. Niko started the business 8 years ago in San Diego, C.A., where he started to notice that there was one thing that his clients needed the most…time. He then made it his main goal to have an all encompassing service for his clients that is efficient and user friendly, hence he is developing a unique software technology that has one reservation system with live inventory. Including places you can find Niko all around the world, from Monaco to Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberté’s, private island on Nukutepipi, in French Polynesia where Niko often walks barefoot to feel the wind hugging him.
Niko is highly motivational and inspirational person with a work ethic that is unmatched as he tells me; you only get in what you put out and the ingredients to his success is dedication, perseverance and decision making.
If you want the experience of your life, with uncompromising attention to detail, we highly recommend checking out Niko and EliteLyfe at www.elitelyfe.com