Destination M is an equity destination club, with a member run Board of Directors. The members are shareholders and are also owners of the club and have a management and concierge team who operate the club for their benefit.

As with many equity destination clubs, the Destination M concierges are the true backbone of the club. These local concierges are the ones who enable the members’ wishes, needs, and wants by providing assistance and luxury services for members at the club’s homes. At Destination M the concierges are called “MBassadors”.

SherpaReport talked to David Clarke - the London based concierge - to discuss the services he and his colleagues provide and the types of requests he’s fulfilled.

Destination M London home

SherpaReport: You have known many of the Destination M members over time, how do you maintain the relationships, so that the members will remember Destination M, when they are not vacationing?

David Clarke: I have proudly been the Mbassador for M’s London Residence since 2006. We have many Members that have been with the club since the beginning, who are also repeat visitors to London. This means that I have seen many members return with new babies, toddlers who have grown into teenagers, and older kids who are now adults. The main method of communication used to be via email, but now much of the location specific pre-arrival trip planning is carried out via whatsapp/SMS/phone call, and this really does help to make the relationship with our members a little more personal each time. Of course, event confirmations continue to be sent via email to ensure important aspects of each trip is not lost in the day-to-day whatsapp/SMS worlds.

When they arrive, the M members love the familiarity of seeing the same person welcoming them back “home”, they love to know about all the new offerings in a destination, especially if they are repeat visitors or have guests staying with them that they want to impress.

SherpaReport: What have you and your team done that is memorable - in terms of requests you helped fulfil - for members in the past?

David Clarke: I contact each member in advance of their arrival to offer any assistance with their trip planning. From the simple things such as confirming that their flight/arrival details are correct, finalising theatre or restaurant reservations, stocking the pantry with their favorite food and drink, to more complex itinerary planning.

For example, London, has so much to offer, and sometimes a member wants some help to pull together a host of things to do during their stay. I discuss with them the kind of things they are interested in, or if there are any “must see or do” activities and will offer suggestions based on their responses.

I often get asked “what should we do?” or “which restaurant/show would you recommend?” Nearly all members are very open to any suggestions, so it’s wonderful being able to share my own personal favourites with our community. And it’s this kind of thing that members call out positively in their feedback, post-stay.

I also have a full network of contacts who I call upon for last minute, “difficult to get into” requests – and this really helps if a member asks for tickets to a Premiership football game, or if they want to dine at a new restaurant that is fully booked.

One request that stands was to arrange flowers and champagne upon arrival for a member’s girlfriend. Whilst this would ordinarily be standard, I also decided to book some tables at fully booked restaurants (just in case!) as I had a feeling the trip was a little more than just about being in London. The member loved the flowers, champagne, and restaurants, and wanted me to book tickets on the Eurostar to Paris as he was going to propose to his girlfriend. Everything worked perfectly, and she said yes!

SherpaReport: Destination M has Mbassadors - you have explained many of their responsibilities, but how does their training and focus differ for each Destination M location?

David Clarke: Mbassadors are the on-the-ground concierge as well as the property manager. We are responsible for ensuring the property is well maintained and in line with Destination M standards and is a real “home-away-from-home”. It is also our job to provide a memorable experience for each member during their time at the property, and we endeavour to fulfil any request.

All our Mbassadors have an expert hospitality/concierge background and are passionate about going over and above to provide an exceptional and memorable experience for our members.

Each Mbassador receives standard training that covers all property and Member expectations, but this is only intended to provide the groundwork for an Mbassador to be able to do their job. Every home and destination is unique. Each Mbassador has their own special something to bring to the role and are actively encouraged to learn about our members likes and dislikes to provide an outstanding, stress-free stay at their M home.

They are also the local specialists who provide advice and tips on the latest places to go and things to do, including items that may be a little more of the beaten path or unusual. Whether its scuba diving in Costa Rica, special exhibitions in London museums and galleries, unique shops in Paris or the beach with the best waves in Barbados, our MBassadors can point members in the right direction.

SherpaReport: You have trained Mbassadors recently for the new home in the Gytheio, Greece - what are your training responsibilities when it comes to educating these folks to understand such a culturally unique location?

David Clarke: Each Mbassador is recruited for their hospitality/concierge background, and therefore each will have location specific knowledge that is invaluable to include alongside our core training. We teach the Mbassador the high baseline role requirements and share our own personal hosting experiences to allow them to personalise their approach based on their location.

Each Mbassador already has invaluable local knowledge and are experts in their respective destinations. And, it is imperative to continue to stay up to date with any changes or new offerings in each location so we can share the best recommendations to our members.

SherpaReport: What are some of the challenges you have faced in training Mbassadors?

David Clarke: Historically, one challenge has been not being always able to provide in-person training with a new Mbassador as our destinations are so far apart. However, now that we can FaceTime or Zoom, this is no longer such an issue. We are all used to communicating this way and seeing each other face to face (albeit virtually) helps to bond our Mbassador family together and each of us can chare best practices and learn even more from each other.

SherpaReport: Please tell us about your background and experience.

David Clarke: I have 25 years of experience in the hospitality/travel industry. Over the years, I have learned that the heart of hospitality lies in understanding people's diverse needs, meeting and exceeding their expectations. It's not just about providing a service; it's about creating memorable experiences that resonate with members long after they've left.

That is the goal of training all the new the Mbassadors to reinforce creating positive memorable experiences for members. We believe legacy plays into this – if families have great experiences, then that legacy of memory becomes part of the experience also.

 

As some background, M properties are located near beaches, mountains, cities, deserts, golf courses and other desired locations that are of interest to their members. Properties are selected based on members’ preferences, travel patterns, travel convenience and investment value and locations include New York, Scottsdale, Kauai, Whistler, Paris, Barbados and Costa Rica.

Members may choose from three levels of membership which provide from 21-60 nights per year, and they can reserve homes up to two years in advance. If a property is available within 30 days of travel, a member may book it and the days do not count against a member's plan days.

The club also offers quite a lot of flexibility when members decide to leave. The newest exit mechanism is an auction, with the last one being held in May 2023. New members who want to participate in the auction must have joined the clubs waitlist, and current selling members can set their own price for share sales. At the May 2023 auction 19 shares changed hands, allowing older members to leave and new members to start enjoying the club. Members may also sell their shares at any time and the club has occasional sunset provision sales discussed here.