In Marketing Tribune 23 of November 2006 Esther Meppelink of Women of the World (now called The Courtesan Club) talks about the differences and similarities between running a ‘normal’ company and an escort agency and how they strive for expansion. She also explains the developments in the sex industry and how these have affected the escort agency.
Relationship marketing in practice
By and for women
Esther Meppelink and Julie Ryan, owners of the escort agency Women of the World, which was founded eight years ago by Gudrun Wilsterman.
Women of the World (WotW) is an exclusive escort agency. You can compare it a bit with the upscale brothel Yab Yum, but without a fixed location. WotW describes the services of the ladies on its website as the ‘girlfriend experience’ (GFE). It’s one of warm, passionate and personal nature. The employees of WotW who handle the escort requests – either via or by telephone – translate each request into a concrete offer. The website is very discreet and at first sight seems to be very businesslike. Nevertheless, several ladies are listed anonymously on the website.
Women of the World does not want to be associated with crime, an image that the sex industry has suffered from. The ladies for whom WotW mediates are not full-time active as prostitutes. They have a normal job or study during the day, according to Meppelink, and the agency mediates for them in the evenings. Therefore, it benefits like a normal company in several respects. Meppelink: “The ladies enjoy what they do and are not dependent on the money they earn with us.” Women of the World wants to position itself further as a normal company, in an admittedly special business. Meppelink: “It’s just work for us. Men sometimes have a tendency to be extremely candid about sex with us, but we never really feel like it. For us it’s the same as working at a bank; only the product happens to be a bit nicer.”
An hour of GFE – incidentally, you can also hire a lady as a companion for a chic party or formal occasion – costs at least 250 euros. The customer base therefore mainly consists of managers who work for large companies. Self-employed entrepreneurs can also be included in WotW’s clientele. 80 to 90 percent of these customers come from abroad. Meppelink: “But there are also men who have saved for a long time and then call us. I always find that so endearing.” And yes of course, famous Dutch people also use the services of the company. “I am not so much surprised by the fact that these people call us. But I am surprised by the bizarre wishes they sometimes have.”
What does it yield?
Recently, the prostitute representative organization ‘The Red Wire’ announced that the sex industry is not doing well. The number of sex companies in the Netherlands has fallen from 800 in the year 2000 to 500 today. The traditional brothel is particularly struggling, the representative organization announced. The Red Wire does not believe that the malaise in the sector is due to the rise of the internet, but to the fact that companies from outside the sector are expanding their services more in the sexual corner. Regular nightlife seems to focus more and more on sex.
However, Women of the World – which is not a brothel but an escort company – has only grown over the past eight years. There are now 35 ladies represented by WotW. According to Meppelink, an important part of the success is the way the company has positioned itself. “While many ads in the Yellow Pages only show bare breasts, we keep it civilized. That suits us as a company, but also as human beings.” In the coming years, the escort agency also wants to offer its services abroad.
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