Inside The World of Concierges

This Week at the Convention Center: The National Concierge Association Conference

By Rebecaa Fontenot    – San Antonio Magazine

Four Things to Know About Concierges
1. Don’t ask them what hotel they work for.It turns out, hotels aren’t the only places concierges work. In fact, many of the National Concierge Association members are corporate or private concierges. Kasner is the concierge for three corporate office towers in downtown Minneapolis and the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota. She says many high-end residential properties, private clubs, academic institutions and medical centers also provide a concierge for their residents, employees or members.

2. There is no typical day.
While reservations and theater tickets are regular requests— especially in Minneapolis, Kasner says, where plays often premiere before hitting Broadway—other days may call for planning an event, locating an antique, or arranging a zoo visit. Or a client may need help with information. When Google can’t answer a question, a concierge often can. A gentleman once called Kasner asking for help in identifying a song his wife loved. He wanted to purchase the album for her. He wouldn’t sing but he rattled off the lyrics he could remember: “Scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the Fandango.” Without hesitation, Kasner told him it was “Bohmeian Rhapsody” by Queen. “I just happened to be a fan,” she explains. “That’s the thing about concierges. We’re kind of a jack of all trades. We have a lot of interests.”

3. It’s all about networking.
When a concierge doesn’t know the answer to a client’s question, they know someone who does. “It’s the secret to our success,” says Kasner. And it’s the genesis of the National Concierge Association. Kasner founded the organization in 1998 as a forum for networking. The association now has around 500 members in the United States and more internationally. Those relationships are important, Kasner explains, because concierges are facilitators. Whether it’s providing information or finding a service to fulfill a request, concierges facilitate through their contacts “and we do it with class and style and efficiency,” she says.

4. The path to concierge success isn’t clear cut.
So how does one become a concierge? It varies. “Most of the people I know who are successful (in this industry) are entrepreneurs at heart,” Kasner says. There is a certification—attending the conference helps fulfill a few requirements—and most concierges are college educated, though there’s not a formal training program or career ladder. In hotels, concierges often become managers, but in the corporate concierge world, success comes in the form of higher-end clients. At the conference, a panel will discuss international etiquette, the Hill Country Wineries executive director will offer education on Texas wines, Austin-based public relations maven Kerry Tate will share tips on developing your personal brand, and trend expert Daniel Levine will cover the latest trends in hospitality.

Interested in the concierge industry? Contact the National Concierge Association. Kasner promises they’re “a very friendly bunch.”