Concierge  What They Do

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Concierges Career Video

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dotA concierge normally works in a luxury hotel, acting as liaison between the guests and the services they may need. On a vacation, a guest might need flights booked, restaurants suggested, a doctor called or special occasions arranged, such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.

These duties all fall under the job description of concierge -- as do buying clothes, shipping gifts home and babysitting a poodle.

dotLarge corporations hire concierges to attend to executives' needs, such as arranging business meetings and wrapping birthday presents for their kids. Some office buildings come with a concierge, which is paid for by corporate tenants as part of their rent.

dotThere is an unfortunate history to the word concierge. The Latin root is conservus, or fellow slave. However, the preferred root comes from old French, the comte des cierges, or keeper of the candles. This was the person in charge of catering to every whim and desire of a palace's visiting nobility. This is basically what a concierge must do in a day.

"There is no job description," says Holly Stiel. She was a concierge for 16 years in San Francisco. Now, she runs a consulting business and educates people on what it takes to be a successful concierge. "As a concierge, you are to do anything legal and anything kind."

dotCrossed golden keys pinned to a concierge's lapel are a sought-after honor in the profession. The keys signify membership in Les Clefs D'Or, an organization founded in Paris in 1929. In order to qualify, a person must have worked as a concierge for five years in a good hotel. A nomination seconded by two current members is also necessary.

dotAs part of their job, concierges may manage the complete lobby area of a hotel, including the bellhops and the front desk personnel. This usually depends on the size of the hotel.

dotConcierges must be expert communicators and social butterflies. "We become friends and confidantes to the guest," says Bertine Hage, a hotel concierge. "You develop a rapport with the people who come to the hotel."

Troy Glenn, a hotel concierge, makes guests feel at home. "Guests definitely develop a personal relationship with the concierge. They place a certain amount of trust in them."

dotThis job is often thought of as glamorous because you get to meet many famous people, says Glenn, who has shaken hands with the Rolling Stones. There are also lifestyle perks that go along with the job, says Stiel, such as eating for free in restaurants and getting free movie passes for IMAX.

Behind the scenes, however, life isn't trouble-free. Sure, concierges deal with happy guests, but they also must smooth the feathers of an upset guest. As such, the job is demanding and can be stressful.

dotIt is absolutely essential that you know how to juggle more than a couple tasks at once, says Stiel. "If you don't like to be interrupted and you like to do one thing at a time, this isn't a job for you," she says.

Also, you need a lot of stamina. "It is relentlessly busy at a concierge's desk," says Stiel. It is demanding work and it can mean standing on your feet all day.

In the service industry, you must be polite at all times, no matter what. Some people don't make this easy and know how to push concierges' buttons, says Stiel. You will learn with increased guest interaction that there are certain personality flaws you will see over and over.

You will be obliged to help these people, too. To do this, you must learn how to identify these people, and observe and detach yourself from the situation. "In the hospitality industry, it is not about you," says Stiel.

Just the Facts

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At a Glance

Attend to the needs of hotel guests

  • Corporate concierges may arrange meetings or wrap gifts
  • You have to be an expert communicator
  • A degree in hotel management is helpful