Concierge requests have historically focused on adult leisure-such as securing hard-to-get restaurant reservations, drawing up complex itineraries to far-flung and exotic destinations and putting clients backstage at a once-in-a-lifetime concert. Over the past few years, however, there's been a shift toward more family-oriented activities.

Parents, who often have used lifestyle services for themselves, are increasingly using concierges to gain insider access, creative ideas and time-saving information for activities centered on their children.

For many wealthy families, time is a precious commodity-particularly during this time of economic stress. Parents would rather spend time participating in activities with their children rather than sorting through the details necessary to make them happen. That's why they're turning to concierge services to provide their children with travel opportunities, financial education and philanthropic and hobby-related activities. Families are looking to concierge firms for assistance with a wide range of activities-everything from complex travel itineraries and camping trips to themed birthday parties and weekend activities close to home.

The price of a family membership to top concierge firms ranges from $2,000 to $25,000 a year depending on the provider and the scope of services. Most firms provide families with a single point person for all their needs. Behind the scenes, however, concierge firms call upon specialists in travel, dining, culture and entertainment to pull together a project.

Advisors should make sure a concierge's team of consultants receives ongoing training and is conversant in today's culture. They should know the names of the trendiest new restaurants, the latest museum exhibits and where to go for the hottest concert or sporting event tickets. Location shouldn't be a problem-concierges should be able to find activities whether they are in far-off places or in a client's hometown.

For example, we recently took on a project from a family office to provide a couple and their two boys, ages 9 and 13, with a day of activities in their hometown of Chicago during the holidays. The day included a trip to the Sears Tower, a chocolate-tasting event and a holiday show.

This type of project is typical for parents who want to introduce new experiences to young children who have not yet settled on a sport, passion or hobby to pursue. By leveraging their wealth of resources, concierges can vet the best in local art classes, sports camps, dance workshops and anything else that is relevant and accessible to a young child.

For older children, concierges can help refine and develop their childhood interests into a true passion. Today's teenagers are almost as busy as their parents with school, sports, extracurricular activities, social networking and social events. Children with a special interest, hobby or skill can especially benefit from the help of concierges, who can use their connections to find suitable activities to match the children's tastes.

Last year, for example, we worked with the family of a 15-year-old boy who had a passion for ice hockey. The boy attended an elite hockey summer camp in Canada and, in addition, received private training sessions with a former NHL hockey player. As a birthday present, we arranged to have the son attend the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver with his father. The trip included tickets to Olympic men's hockey games and a personal meeting with a U.S. hockey team member.

In addition to fun activities, families are looking for ways to instill social responsibility in their children. Toward this goal, a concierge can help families achieve a balance between instilling ideals and providing children with the best money can buy. A concierge could, for example, gather the resources to allow families to make their homes "green" by finding ways to conserve resources, reduce waste and adopt eco-friendly habits. This type of project would involve the entire family and allow parents to show their children the meaning of environmental responsibility.

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