This week NMIC presents a new kind of travel services. Sarah Keenlyside the owner of Bespoke-Beijing, her business partner Tom Pattinson and operations manager Cao Wei tell us all.
When and how was Bespoke-Beijing created?
Bespoke started to operate one year ago exactly, in May 2009. Tom worked at Time Out Beijing for nearly 3 years and so did I says Sarah. During those years we got to know the Beijing scene very well. What made us think there might be a need for a new kind of travel services is that we kept getting phone calls from friends and friends of friends visiting Beijing. They wanted advice on the best restaurants and the coolest bar or on the latest music venue. In the end we were getting so many calls that we decided to create a service to do exactly that: provide visitors with addresses and tips only a good friend would give you. Bespoke-Beijing was born!
So could-you detail the services you offer?
The services we offer are totally tailor-made to the visitors’ needs. They hinge on two important things: a mobile phone and a personalized mini-guide. Both are either in the car who picks the travelers up at the airport or are waiting in their hotel room if they have decided to come into town by themselves.
The phone is pre-programmed with all the useful numbers- the embassy’s, a 24/7 translation service, the restaurants numbers which are in the mini-guide etc…- and comes with a 8-hour credit for local calls. The mini-guide is completely personalized. To select restaurants and places for a particular customer we first ask him / her questions about his / her tastes – spicy food ok? vegetarian? rock or jazz? contemporary art galleries or outdoor etc…- and how they are traveling – are they traveling with children for instance? -.
In the mini-guide are the names and numbers of all the places we’ve picked for them: the trendiest restaurants and shops, the art galleries, the bars as well as the historical sites they might like to visit. If they come for 3 / 4 days we provide them with only 5 or 6 restaurants and only a short selection of things to do knowing they won’t have time to go to 30 restaurants and visit 20 temples!
With the phone and the guide we give a card we call the Treat card. It gives you discount and freebies in selected shops and restaurants that we particularly like.
Do people take advantage of the fact that you can be reached 24/7?
They do! We constantly get phone calls for various things: how much should I pay for a carpet at Panjiayuan, the antiques market or where can I watch the boxing game tonight? A client called our operations manager Wei at 1am to ask her to discuss the fare with a taxi driver, another one was wondering if a particular shop accepted credit cards. We have answers to those questions!
Could you share the names of some of your clients with us?
Yes, recently US Music and media mogul Damon Dash used our services as well as British comedian and journalist Dom Joly .
Anything else you’d like to add?
Our prices start at under 1000 RMB if you stay 4 days or less.
38 Baofang Hutong,
Dongcheng district, Beijing,
People’s Republic of China, 100010.
(+ 86) 10 6528 6603
(+ 86) 134 6638 0379