A 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.
Large 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.
There 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."
Crossed 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.
As 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.
Concierges 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."
This 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.
It 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
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.