This article is part of our Trip Report – Adventures with Edventure in Nashville.
One benefit of premium credit cards that we’ve under-utilized is the personalized concierge service. Amex provides concierge service with its personal and business Platinum cards, Chase provides it with the Sapphire Reserve, and Citi provides it with its Prestige card.
On our Nashville trip with Edventure, I decided to give the Amex and Citi concierge services a bit of a side-by-side test. I chose those two because they’re the ones I’d used before. Most notably, I’ve used the Citi concierge service to make fourth-night-free hotel bookings on my Prestige card. And I’ve used the Amex platinum concierge a couple of times for rifle-shot tasks, including helping me get tickets to a big boxing match in Las Vegas during a pre-sale. That one was a total success, but my other experiences with the Amex platinum concierge had been mixed.
I contacted the Amex and Citi concierge services on a Monday morning, three and a half days before we would arrive in Nashville late Thursday afternoon that same week. We were mostly looking for ideas for meals, particularly dinners.
I gave each of the concierge services the same assignment, framed as follows: We are meeting friends in Nashville and are looking for recommendations and reservations for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights (we knew we’d be watching football on Saturday night). We would be staying at the Hilton Nashville Downtown and would prefer to eat close to there, within walking distance. We wanted someplace nice, but not over-the-top fancy. Italian would be one choice, but we’d also consider pretty much any other type of food including American, Asian, steaks, seafood, or whatever else (except not Indian food). I told each that I didn’t want to constrain their choice too much because I was interested in what creative ideas they would have for me.
I also specifically asked each concierge to specifically let me know of any restaurants where they could get us additional perks. I have seen the concierge services advertise that they can get free appetizers or desserts, or some other perk from the restaurant for you. On this ask, both concierges told me immediately that they wouldn’t be able to get us any perks. The Amex concierge said simply that they don’t have a “perks” program. The Citi concierge said that they don’t have any “perks” arrangements with any restaurants in Nashville.
Even in this early call, I had more confidence in the Amex concierge than the Citi concierge, so I gave the Amex concierge an additional assignment – try to get us in to Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe on either Thursday or Friday night. At the time I spoke with the concierge, I already knew that the publicly-available tickets were sold out for both nights. So I knew that this was a very tough ask that I’d be very surprised if they could fulfill.
From the outset, the Amex platinum concierge seemed to be more capable than the Citi concierge. The Amex platinum concierge also acted with substantially more urgency. On our initial call, the Amex concierge said that she’d get back with me same-day (even though she had two assignments and not just one), whereas the Citi concierge said she’d get back to me by Wednesday afternoon. The Citi concierge’s Wednesday timing seemed rather unhelpful since we’d be leaving for Nashville on Thursday.
Amex Platinum Concierge
I had called the Amex platinum concierge at about 9:00 am, and remarkably, she got back to me with an email at 10:06 am – within an hour. Her email clearly addressed my requests. First, she told me that she had looked into my request for reservations at the Bluebird Cafe and discovered, unfortunately, that they do not accept third party reservations. She apologized for the inconvenience. I knew that this was a very difficult task, so I was not surprised that she was unsuccessful. I appreciated the way she communicated the result.
Beyond that, she had 4 recommendations for dinners, each of which was right on-point in terms of being responsive to my request:
- The George Jones – live music, a Smokehouse restaurant, and a rooftop bar dedicated to the life and legacy of country music icon George Jones
- The Standard at the Smith House – serving upscale Southern specialties complete with a full-service bar, in a townhouse built in the 1840’s
- Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina – “celebrity chef” steak restaurant atop the JW Marriott, with 360-degree views of the Nashville skyline and a wine list with more than 500 choices
- The Farm House – traditional Southern cuisine from a well-credentialed chef, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients
I thought these were outstanding choices. We ultimately chose The Farm House for dinner on Friday night, as a friend of Edventure had also recommended it. I wrote back to the Amex concierge around 11:00 am asking her to make us reservations at The Farm House, and by the end of the day, our reservation was confirmed, exactly as requested.
We thought The Farm House was ok but not great (see 72 Hours (Almost) of Middle Age Miles and Edventure in Nashville – Part 1 for more info). That said, I’m not holding it against the Amex concierge as it certainly appeared to be a hip, popular place, and it was recommended by another trusted source.
We didn’t choose Bourbon Steak (and wouldn’t have chosen it), as we booked another steak place, The Southern Steak & Oyster, for Thursday night (and it was very good; see our previous article linked above). We didn’t want steak two nights in a row. If I had it to do over again, I’d try out The Standard at the Smith House, which sounds very interesting.
Citi Prestige Concierge
I originally called the Citi concierge a few minutes after 9:00 am on Monday. As I noted above, the concierge said she’d get back to me on Wednesday with suggestions. From the outset, the concierge did not have an appropriate sense of urgency, given that we’d be traveling to Nashville on Thursday.
On Wednesday morning at 10:30 am, I received an email from the Citi concierge. It didn’t have any suggestions; rather, it simply advised that she was “still researching some details” and would have information to me by 8:00 pm on Wednesday evening. On top of an already late response, now the information would be coming even later.
Despite that commitment, I did not hear from the Citi concierge by 8:00 pm on Wednesday evening. I eventually received an email from the Citi concierge with recommendations at a few minutes after 1:00 am on Thursday. This was too late for us to have done much anything with the information in any event.
The Citi concierge, after almost 3 days, had come up with 2 recommendations for dinners:
- Demos’ Steak and Spaghetti House – This is a local chain restaurant. It may or may not be good, but it’s not a particularly inspired or creative recommendation.
- The Old Spaghetti Factory – As you probably know, this is a large chain restaurant with numerous locations across North America. Personally, I actually like The Old Spaghetti Factory just fine. But really? This is one of your top 2 best recommendations in Nashville?
I’d have to give the Citi concierge a failing mark on this assignment. The concierge wasn’t attentive to my time frame and didn’t display any urgency, they didn’t even meet their own time frame, and when I finally got information, the recommendations were uninspired and only two in number.
Obviously, in this experiment, the Amex platinum concierge beat the Citi concierge hands-down. The Amex concierge was responsive, acted quickly, squarely fulfilled my reasonable request, and was pleasant and communicative about not being able to fulfill a very difficult second assignment. The Citi concierge acted with no urgency, was late, and didn’t provide interesting recommendations.
Hopefully Middle Age Miles readers will find this experiment and data point helpful. We look forward to trying the Amex platinum concierge again for other requests. And we look forward to using the Citi concierge only for fourth-night-free hotel reservations using our Citi Prestige card (at least for the next 9 months!).
And, this concludes our Trip Report – Adventures with Edventure in Nashville. We hope you’ve enjoyed it, and we hope it helps you plan a fun trip to Nashville some day and get great travel value when you do!
What are your experiences with the Amex and Citi concierge services? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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