WSJ - Salvador Neme needed some help, and fast. The 22-year-old Babson College junior was throwing a last-minute party at his Boston apartment and wanted to add a few special touches. So the undergrad rang his personal concierge. “I had no idea where to start,” says Mr. Neme, who decided that an authentic mariachi band would be just the thing for his Mexican Independence Day soiree. “Mariachis are hard to find,” says the Mexico City native.
No worries. For $300 a month, Mr. Neme has unlimited access to the seven full-time employees of Boston Collegiate Consulting Group, a local concierge company that helps today’s moneyed students live like the privileged young swells of the Golden Age. BCCG helps its clients find and decorate apartments, get academic tutoring, snag coveted restaurant reservations and handle a litany of other bothersome chores. The company pulled off Mr. Neme’s September party, complete with a bartender and a three-piece costumed band. Although Mr. Neme declined to say what he spent on the 40-person affair, the concierge company says the tab ran into the thousands. “It wasn’t a matter of how much [it cost], it was how quickly we could get it,” says concierge Elizabeth Chaplin.
College used to be a great equalizer: No matter their parents’ social status, students who came to campus tended to deal with basic life skills on their own—from frying up grilled cheese sandwiches to unclogging toilets and folding laundry. That was before companies like BCCG made it possible to summon butlers, drivers and gofers with a click or a call. AJ Rich, the 30-year-old founder of BCCG, says his service offers a “seamless transition” to college life in a new city. For many clients, he says, “It’s not looked at as an indulgence, but a need.”
…Tensions brewed, for instance, when she organized a golf-themed 21st-birthday party for a student at University of Virginia—under orders from his mother in Epsom, England. The mother, Lindsay Smart, says her son Henry was initially wary of the party plan, but “as it got nearer, I think he warmed to the idea.” He directed her not to do anything “over the top,” but otherwise gave little guidance on the event, which was for about 25 people.
“We were trying not to treat him like he was 5 years old,” Ms. Battani says.
The concierge ordered floral arrangements for centerpieces, decorated the restaurant with golf-themed library books, commissioned a cake (topped with a picture of the student as a child) and created bookmark party favors with yet more childhood photos. Ms. Smart had previously hired Ms. Battani, who charges about $40 an hour, to furnish her son’s bedroom in an off-campus house during his sophomore year. “My son would be sleeping on the floor if there wasn’t some intervention there,” Ms. Smart says. She spent roughly $1,200 plus fees for a bed, computer table, towels and homey touches like a nightstand clock—and had it all set up while he was out.
A new era of college partying! Forget cheap beer in red solo cups and $10 vodka straight out of the plastic handle. Fuck “#PARTYPLAYLIST” blaring on some dumpy speakers off some kid’s 60 gig iPod. No more ending the night with $1 Ramen noodles and old cold pizza while you shove beer cans into a Hefty bag. Now it’s hiring butlers in white gloves to cater the shit out of your apartment and run down to the store in their limousine and bring you back a fucking mariachi band. Concierge Consulting Firms throwing a professional party right out of your shitty dorm room. Ultimate status symbol. Sure some people may think this is ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC. That the fact you can’t throw your own birthday party and get people to show up means you probably shouldn’t be having a birthday party in the first place and also should immediately kill yourself. Those people are closed minded and probably poor. Seriously nothing screams I’m a big swinging dick rich bastard like a multi-thousand dollar catered kegger. Like if you have to ask how much this concierge consulting firm cost to throw this 21st birthday party in my apartment…you can’t afford it.
PS- Hey Henry Smart, at the University of Virginia, sweet 21st birthday party man!