Originally, I wasn’t going to write a blog post about this as I did not think it was that exciting, but since @FarEastExplorer asked for details, I am sharing you the story.
In the last 6 months, I’ve met some amazing people from my day job. There’s no better satisfaction than being able to connect with them to talk about credit card points, manufactured spending, and travel. It just so happened that one friend was coming up to New York City from Dallas for Memorial Day weekend and celebrating his fourth anniversary with his wife.
I asked him what his weekend plans were and what he planned to do to celebrate the anniversary. He explained to me that he wasn’t able to secure a reservation to Eleven Madison for the Saturday. Me being me trying to be helpful I asked him if he’d like me to use the credit card concierge benefit to lock down a reservation. During breakfast, I quickly shot off this email to the American Express concierge:
I’d like to set up a reservation to Eleven Madison in NYC for 2 people Saturday night, May 28, around 5 to 6 pm.
Please let me know if you can secure this reservation as it would be for a wedding anniversary
Thank you very much
I got the standard automated message acknowledging receipt and I would hear back in 8 hours. I felt very good that the American Express concierge team would be able to lock down the reservation.
Eleven Madison Park is a
Danny Meyer restaurant belonging to the Relais & Chateaux group and allows you to book reservations 28 days in advance. As you can see when I queried OpenTable for a 5:00 PM time slot it was booked. You will have to take my word for it, but the entire day of May 28 was completely booked for May 28.
The next available time slot for 5 to 6 was this:
Yes, you’re seeing June!
The Back Up Plan Comes Through
At 2:48 PM, I called Citi’s concierge and gave them two requests. One for a hotel that I plan to stay for the fourth night free benefit and the reservation request. Jessie took my requirements and I let her know I had a conference call at 3 PM and that I would like to have everything done over email. After we wrapped up the call, I was at my desk at 3 PM and she called me back and I was about to let it go to voicemail, but I answered it. She let me know it was a recorded line and that she wanted to confirm making the reservation and that they needed a credit card number to confirm the booking. Just like that it was complete and she told me that the reservation was complete and I will receive email confirmation.
I want to stress that our first call lasted 7 minutes and a few minutes was wasted to connect to the concierge service and navigating the automated phone tree.
We wrapped up at 2:55. Literally 5 minutes later, she was able to secure the reservation.
AMEX To The Rescue?
After my conference call ended, at 3:50 PM American Express gave me a call. She too announced she was on a recorded line and I was ready to tell her that I no longer needed to make the reservation. Before I could even say anything she profusely apologized how she was not able to lock down a reservation. I really appreciated the fact that she did some homework on Eleven Madison. Kudos to her. She offered all kinds of options like checking again the next day because it would have fallen right outside the 48 hour window to drop a reservation. If you drop the reservation within 48 hours of your reservation, Eleven Madison charge your credit card $165 per person for the no-show. I thanked her and said it wasn’t necessary and she wished that I have a good anniversary as we concluded the call.
I did not have the heart to tell her that the Citi concierge came through, but in hindsight I should have so they can improve their product.
Possible Isolated Incident And Why Citi Won By A Mile
This event was very surprising to me. Maybe Citi was able to lock down the reservation because something opened up just like AMEX suggested and it was perfect timing? Who knows, but we as a community should play around with this and gather more data and see which concierge really is better. Or maybe it really is better because of booking through Aspire like Gary covered.
I think Citi killed it in the service because of how fast they were able to turn it around and be able to fulfill something that seemed like it was not possible. The jury is still out whether or not American Express concierge is better than Citi.
What other tough things that the concierges have done for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.