December 2, 2015
The American Express Centurian Card has long been lauded as the world’s premier rewards card. More popularly known as the Black Card, Centurian offers dedicated concierge access and a number of benefits with premier travel companies and hotels. But for most the card is far out of reach with a required minimum annual spend of $250K and $2.5K annual fee. SELECT, an NY-based startup, aims to bring benefits similar to – and perhaps even beyond – what’s found on Centurian to professionals across the globe.
Since launching just over a year ago the company, has quickly grown its premier black card community to over 7000 members, with thousands more on the waitlist. According to founder and CEO Carlo Cisco, creating SELECT is a way to provide top-tier brands and businesses with a sustainable and profitable method for attracting and retaining their target clientele, while offering SELECT members unlimited access to premier benefits and high-quality, VIP experiences. In order to receive SELECT benefits, prospective members must apply through a fairly competitive process where they cite biographical, educational, and career information as well as general interests. Cisco notes somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of all applicants are ultimately offered membership.
Once accepted to the SELECT community, members receive a personalized black metal card that can be linked to any of their current credit or debit cards. Additionally, they can access all the member benefits through the members-only website and mobile apps for both iPhone and Android. Members even have access to a text-based full-service concierge directly through the app. The concierge helps members make any bookings at SELECT partners and provides recommendations for restaurants, hotels and activities that suit a member’s specific needs. SELECT’s dedicated in-house concierge staff is trained to be in the know and connect members with the bespoke experiences they desire for any occasion.
SELECT focuses on benefits that are relevant to their members’ daily lives. These benefits include things such as sizable discounts or complimentary drinks for your entire party at top-tier restaurants, unpublished rates at top hotels (such as the Mondrian LA, Delano, and the Pierre), ongoing special deals at retailers like Brooks Brothers, and even up to 50 percent most movie tickets. Members also have access to members-only SELECT events, from special lectures and speaker series to mixers and open bars.
Members pay an annual fee of $250 to keep the benefits active, a tiny fraction of the fee charged by Centurion and even less than other premier cards and memberships that offer far fewer benefits. Members can access benefits and attend events in any of SELECT’s current or future markets. With NYC, DC and Miami live, Cisco expects the community to continue to grow and says that at least 3-4 more cities are on the way in 2016.
“After seeing the membership and utilization grow exponentially in NY and DC we decided it was time for another market” said Cisco. “We chose Miami because it’s a city that would immediately become part of the broader community. Many of our existing members have friends and family in Miami and many travel here frequently.”
Cisco also notes it’s a city he has a personal connection with. He graduated from University of Miami and started his first business, a successful event planning and promotion company while he was in school at the University of Miami.
SELECT will have its official launch party in December on Miami Beach. The company is already building its membership community and network of partners in Miami. Cisco says members have access exclusive benefits at a number local hot spots including Dolce, Sushi Samba, Bocce, Villa Azur, Klima, Hyde Beach and many others.
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