Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, staying in an unfamiliar area can be bewildering at first. You may not be sure where to eat, what to do or how to get around. Guide books, websites and locals can all help. But if you're lucky enough to be staying at a hotel that employs a concierge, start there. A dedicated concierge can be an invaluable resource, providing exactly the advice and assistance you need.
Hotels can be hectic work environments, but great concierges should always be calm and pleasant, both when working directly with guests and when coordinating with other hotel staff to fulfill guests' needs. Like front desk staff, concierges are often the first people that guests encounter at a hotel, so concierges should represent the hotel well by being friendly, responsive and discreet. A concierge should be committed to hospitality, with a sincere desire to help hotel guests.
Good concierges are like walking guide books, with a broad knowledge of their city. One hotel guest may ask for directions to the area's best vegan restaurant. The next guest may have forgotten to bring contact lens solution. Another may want tickets to a sold-out dog show or hockey game. To supplement their own encyclopedic knowledge and wide array of resources, good concierges also have good contacts inside and outside their city to help them fulfill guest requests.
Concierges must be all things to all guests, which means that they must tailor advice to each guest. Concierges, for instance, will likely recommend different restaurants to newlyweds than they do to families with many young children. Likewise, good concierges will sense which guests need more hand-holding and which guests need only the most basic information. Guests will not always spell out what they want clearly; a good concierge fills in the blanks.
According to Les Clefs d'Or, an international professional association of concierges, the word concierge derives from Old French. A palace's "comte de cierges" was the "keeper of the candles," in charge of assigning candles to rooms based on where palace activities were occurring. Gradually, the position became more closely associated with assisting palace visitors. An excellent modern-day concierge treats hotel guests much as a feudal-era concierge might have once treated palace visitors.
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