Today's Concierge - A Role Model of Service Excellence and Profitability

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | October 28, 2008

Consumers and guests are driving these increasing numbers with a frenzied desire for more personal service. At the same time, organizations are scrambling to convince a skeptical public that the personal touch still exists. They plug in the word "concierge" with hopes that the public will symbolically appreciate the effort yet many simply use the word or hire an individual without the essence and skills of the professional concierge. The ability to truly deliver exceptional service does not automatically appear by simply adding the word concierge. Organizations that hire properly trained, professional concierges will see significant impact to the bottom line and guest/customer satisfactions levels will soar.

Hotels and hospitality organizations have long been noted as the original venues of this profession yet even those environments are seeing tremendous change and with vision, opportunity in this multi-dimensional role and profession. Today's concierge plays an increasingly strategic role in the overall guest experience. As the ambassador and key focal point for all types of questions and answers, a professional concierge can make the mundane seem special and the out-of-the-ordinary seem simple. But how does that translate to dollars.and business? Do general managers, senior executives and even the concierges themselves really understand the value of this role and the multiple contributions the concierge makes to the bottom line?

Guests are not only affected by the courtesy and resourcefulness of the concierge, but by the intangible qualities that shape perceptions of the property or organization they represent. Through their role, they have the opportunity to impact repeat business, referral business, extended stays and additional income.

Every time a request is made, entered into a log book or computer or a phone call is answered, that concierge is documenting valuable data which contributes in some way to the business of that environment. A good concierge can let any manager and even vendors know about changing guest demands and help train fellow employees. Professional concierges provide one-stop shopping where guests can have multiple needs and interests addressed.

Many concierges serve as an extension of the general manager or senior executives, whether the concierge and their management know it or not. They both have the same need for the hotel/organization to operate efficiently as a unit. Both must build business for all departments, not just their own. Many managers do not have enough time to interact with guests at the level they desire. Whether by accident or on purpose, management's highly interactive guest role is often delegated to the concierge. Many concierges today are charged with overseeing lobby staff, managing the service levels of frontline guest interaction and are regularly scheduled for management duties. General Managers and executives in other organizations who employ a concierge should take a closer look at extending that role and recognizing the substantial business opportunity with a truly professional concierge.

And while publicity about the concierge profession tends to focus on the "unusual requests" a concierge might receive, gratuities, both deserved and "under the table" or even news items about the demands of hot tempered celebrities, there is little that focuses on the business side of this profession and the service excellence of a skilled concierge.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.