Palm Beach Post
 
Bluefish makes travel dreams come true
By Mary Thurwachter, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Picture yourself at the Grammys, ogling the likes of Justin Timberlake, Shania Twain, Beyonce and 50 Cent.

Impossible? Not necessarily. But, as they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts. And unless you’re a close chum of a musical legend, the who to know is Steve Sims.

The president of BlueFish Concierge, a high-end travel services company based in Delray Beach, specializes in one-of-a-kind trips. Sims recently was named a supplier of ticket packages (starting at $4,000) to the Feb. 8 Grammys in Los Angeles. His VIP tickets include backstage passes and admission to a private reception party for Sting. Ticket holders will get to hear Elton John, Billy Joel, Melissa Etheridge and other greats “Sing Sting” and pay tribute to the legend.

Sims has already sold dozens of tickets, including some that sold for $78,000 — but that one included lots of extras such as a helicopter. Get a hold of him quickly, and you may be able to scoop up some of the remaining tickets. He’s already sold all his VIP Oscar tickets.

A British expatriate who moved to Delray Beach four years ago, Sims,37, was a jet-setting stockbroker who got into private banking.”I handled clients in Asia, and I started hanging out at the best parties and meeting affluent people,” Sims said. “I became a social hound. We (he and his well-connected friends) just really started networking in the early ’90s before anyone knew what networking was. My clients were worth millions and billions.”Sims and 16 of his buddies formed a tongue-in-cheek club called the BlueFish Boys.”We picked that because it was a silly name, and we sat down in Cannes and talked about forming a boy band,” he said. “It was a joke with much drink that made sense at the time.” The “boys” would get invited to parties at select clubs all over the world. Each would bring 10 clients who used the code word “BlueFish.””Then people started calling us, wanting to get in, and we started to be used as a concierge before we realized what we had,” Sims said. “I’m the guy who woke up and said, ‘We’re onto something here. I’m going to incorporate.’ “That was 1996, when headquarters for the company were in Geneva and London. Today, the corporation, has 150 representatives worldwide, with clients who include Steve Tyler of Aerosmith, Prince Albert and most of the cast of The Sopranos. Not all the clients, however, are rich or famous. Sometimes, they are just regular folks who have saved for years for a dream trip. Two years ago, Sims took a group of clients to Indianapolis to see a Formula One race. Among his guests were an elderly farmer and his wife from England who make about $30,000 a year; a motorcycle builder;and, as Sims said, “a man who owns a computer company named after a piece of fruit.” “We all sat at one table, and for one day, all of them were equal, drinking champagne and walking into the pits, meeting drivers and getting the same goodie bags,” Sims said. “They all had so much passion for the sport, and there was no talk of bank accounts.” News of BlueFish spread by word of mouth, but the company also has a Web site –www.thebluefish.net — and a newsletter with more than 30,000 subscribers. “We decided early on we would not be a membership club,” Sims said. “We don’t charge membership. We make money on commission. We have contact to 90 percent of places people would not be able to get into otherwise.”Sims and company recently arranged for the head of a well-known software company to be James Bond for a week. The adventure, which cost just under $200,000, included a reproduction of the yacht from Octopussy and a mock kidnapping and 007-type rescue. Sims can make one phone call and have a client on his way to explore the Titanic (cost: $37,000, which includes a cargo ship to take you there and a submarine to ride up and down in for three days). He could, for a cool $23 million, get someone on the next Russian space shuttle. Or, he could arrange for a ticket to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix as a guest of the Sultan of Brunei for upwards of $5,000.

“But you’ve got to know who to phone,” he said. “That’s the whole point of networking.” All his tickets are VIP, he said, but not all of them are enormously costly. He could, for example, get tickets starting at $25 to the recent Palm Beach Cavallino Classic at The Breakers. “People need to understand that we deal with the best, which doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive,” Sims said. Of course, coming up with the money doesn’t guarantee Sims will arrange entrée for someone. He spends a considerable amount of time talking to a prospective client ahead of time. “The client needs to tell me what I can do for him,” he said. “I want to know if they’re the sort of people I get along with,” he said. An obnoxious guest could ruin it for future clients. “I need to know if I can hold a conversation with someone…. You need to listen to people to know whether you can be comfortable with them. If you’re on a 10-day trip, you’ve got to know who you’re going to be stuck with.”

He has and does refuse people, especially if he finds their motives are personal gain, if they are mentally unstable, or if what they want to do will harm others.

“I am privileged to have the greatest job in the world,” Sims said. “I’m the ultimate toymaker…. I do things most people don’t get to do.”

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