Concierge Referrals: Tips on Maintaining High Standards with Your Outside Venues

By Marjorie Silverman Honorary President, UICH, Les Clefs d'Or | October 28, 2008

The symphony of service! The ubiquitous Verizon Wireless television ad featuring the "network" comes to mind when one conjures up the "part Merlin, part Houdini" magic of the concierge. Concierges cannot function without their network. Think of it in terms of a symphony with a maestro at the podium and a semicircle of the orchestra who make the music.

In the Hotel

The first semicircle of "musicians" begins in one's own property. Who to call to get things done-need a room rushed for a VIP, a reservation in the hotel's 5 star restaurant, to freeze that freshly pumped mother's milk, a board room for an impromptu important meeting, where to find the wedding cake top for the parents who have spent thousands on a wedding, a private space facing Mecca for a morning prayer: See the Concierge.

All of those "back of the house" geniuses are part of the network. The General Manager makes this possible by placing his trust in the concierge staff and their credibility by instructing the management team to give them what they need to please the guest. He trusts their judgment, communication skills and their expertise; that they would not ask, were it not important. They are in the first circle of harmony to assure that all guest requests within the property are met with friendship, promptness and efficiency. They understand that they are part of the creative team who make it happen. They are schooled in all aspects of hospitality and the hotel's mission statement. They are the first chairs of the orchestra.

Local Community

The second semicircle is located in the local community. This layer of instrumentation gives the concierge orchestra its fullness and richness. Guests want to experience the spirit of the place. They demand authentic local experiences that synchronize with their hotel experience-they do not want any jarring notes. How does the concierge team audition and decide the services and vendors to recommend? How do they augment the sound of the orchestra to a crescendo?

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.