“If you can easily afford a nice car, but you have no one sitting next to you…it doesn’t feel good,” says Geneviève Heintz, who along with her business partner Annemieke Dubois, heads up the recently opened Brussels office of the introduction service, Berkeley International.
The service aims to put a carefully matched life partner in that metaphorical car seat next to you. Targeted at ‘high end’ types – “The people that we are serving are successful professionals” – Berkeley International has found a niche in the dating market: the company has expanded rapidly from its origins in London 2002 to open offices in Nice, Monaco, New York, Manchester, Australia and it will be shortly coming to Paris.
Geneviève says that her clients don’t have the time to trawl through internet sites, or moreover, their status doesn’t allow them to be visible online. The keywords are discretion and confidentiality. Following a 90-120 minute interview with Geneviève and Annemieke, who have both got strong track records in Human Resources, a profile of the client is drawn up with the client’s approval. The service then matches individuals with other like-minded individuals, and phone numbers and first names are exchanged. “We go for a very gentlemanly [introduction]. It’s the man that has to call the woman,” explains Geneviève.
Berkeley International has 2,600 members worldwide, of which 15% are part of the Belgian network, so according to Geneviève the company is not starting from zero here. The Brussels office will from now on serve the Belgian clients and prospective members, who previously had to contact the London office.
Membership costs €4,000, with additional yearly fees of €2,000 for a Belgian membership. While she acknowledges that the prices are high, she likens it to joining a golf club. “It’s worth more than the physical things that you can buy with that money.” Additional payments allow clients to use the other offices of the service to widen their possibilities. The company has a success rate of 75-90%, depending on age.
Geneviève says that she and her partner are motivated by making people happier. “This is what drove us before and even more now,” she adds.
And if it doesn’t appear to be working out for a particular client, then they are on hand to help. “We can help people feel more confident. We are there in a very respectful, confidential and supportive way, just to guide them through the whole process.”
It appears that a helping hand is all important. One member, Geneviève recounts, was taking a business trip to London during which he planned to meet a girl that was introduced to him by Berkeley International. On the train he noticed a girl sat opposite that he would have liked to talk to but felt too nervous to do so. When he arrived for the date later that evening, he found it was with the girl on the train!
Says Geneviève: “The best part is that they kept seeing each other and are still together.”
For more information, visit www.berkeley-international.com/be