by Vanessa Hernandez, CNCA
What makes a Concierge great vs. good? That is a question we are asked all the time; one that lingers in the back of my mind and one that my colleagues and I strive to answer through our actions daily. A professional, well-trained, well-connected, and PASSIONATE Concierge is indispensable. His/her resourcefulness is limitless when it comes to getting their client’s needs and wants just right. And nothing will surprise them… Not needing 227 green M&M’s, not asking the entire hotel staff to help with a flash mob, not even needing the biggest ox in the Southwest for their CEO to ride into the ballroom on – nothing.
“A great Concierge is someone who has the gift of anticipation. They know what their clients want even when they don’t know. They have great Customer Service skills; they are polished and have common sense.”
– Anthony Curtis, CNCA
Classic Concierge, Washington D.C.
How do you know if you have one of these Concierges in your employ? A good Concierge will be, well, good. They will be able to handle your everyday requests – restaurant reservations, ticket purchasing, even transportation – with good, standard answers. They’ll have a general knowledge of the surrounding area and acceptable interpersonal and guest relations skills. They know about local hospitality businesses from their hotel visits, but haven’t necessarily gone out of their work to personally try or experience the product. Some may, however, attend the occasional Concierge event hosted by an industry focused publication such as Where Magazine.
“When someone is going to offer a more thorough answer than expected, and that isn’t afraid to talk, it demonstrates that they have the desire to go above and beyond, and that they can have a conversation. At the same time, they must be able to take their finger off the talk button, and listen. Two of the biggest factors that I feel make the difference between a good Concierge and a great one, are body language and motivation. Having good posture and a welcoming presence, establishing and maintaining eye contact, and presenting a wide smile are characteristics of every great Concierge I’ve known. People with an attitude of service for the sake of making people happy make truly great Concierges because they will listen to their guests to provide personalized service. The qualities that make a Concierge great are innate; they cannot be taught. That’s why a great Concierge can move to a brand-new city and still be successful. It’s not necessarily the knowledge the Concierge possesses that makes them awesome at what they do, it’s the motivation to go above and beyond in each encounter. A great Concierge doesn’t care how much money they have or how they look, they provide the same quality of service to all their guests. In fact, they apply that same attitude of service in every aspect of their lives, not only with their guests, but with their coworkers, friends, families and even strangers.”
– Justin Fauth
Pelican New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana
A great Concierge pays attention to the details. They hear what their guest or client is saying between the lines. Looking for dinner reservations? Your Concierge will be listening for verbal cues to help determine their personal style and tastes. They should also be asking you what kind of dinner it will be, what type of food palates you’re looking to satisfy, and if there are any dietary restrictions. If you want to go on a tour, they should be finding out if you have any physical restrictions, young children, elderly, even health conditions. A great Concierge will tailor every aspect of their guest’s or client’s request down to the last detail. A great Concierge does their homework. They attend events, outings, and build relationships with business, tour, and restaurant owners/managers to get the inside scoop – oftentimes on their own dime – and they know which questions to ask in order to help their guests even more. Equally important, a great Concierge will be an active member of a credible Concierge association, such as the National Concierge Association, Les Clefs d’Or, Concierge Society of Atlanta, Valley of the Sun Concierge Network, etc. A true, professional Concierge is first and foremost a representation of themselves and their work. Of course, they are as well for their employer and company; however, they understand that how they present themselves reflects directly onto the company they represent. They understand and even pride themselves on the fact that their reputation and connections carry with them wherever they go.
“When making hiring decisions, the most important things I look for are a warm personality, a genuine and authentic disposition, an one who truly loves to help and go the extra mile for people. A Concierge who anticipates another’s needs and one who follows through even after the guest has departed with a note.”
– Clara Ponce, CNCA
Scottsdale Fairmont Princess, Scottsdale, Arizona
For employers, it is important to research which concierge is being considered to represent your company. Take into consideration these tips from experienced concierge managers, along with your specific goals. You will find that the concierges who have dedicated themselves to the profession and who represent themselves well will be the best decision for your department.