Concierge Relationships that Benefit Guests Beyond Hotel Borders

By Shujaat Khan Chief Concierge, The Capital Hilton | May 04, 2010

The seasoned Concierge stands ready at his desk in the hotel lobby, to aide any and all that require assistance. The most effective hotel concierges are those that understand that it's not always what you know, but often who you know, that counts, when it comes to satisfying their guests.

Being well connected with the owners and management of local venues opens doors and creates opportunities that otherwise may not be possible. Developing relationships with restaurant owners is the best way to be assured of prime tables and excellent service for your guests. It's in the restaurant's best interest to please your guests, knowing that excellent guest feedback will be positive to their bottom line. Likewise, it's in the Concierge's best interest to always recommend the best fit for the type of restaurant the guest requests. While the best steakhouse in town may be Restaurant A for a business dinner; the best steakhouse in town for a family with small children could be entirely different. Being able to consistently make the best recommendation for guests is one of the reasons the Concierges' networks are so important.

Equally critical to the success of a Concierge is being well connected with fellow Concierges, locally, nationally and internationally.

Luxury and business travelers are very savvy. While their basic needs remain the same, they are worldlier and come with an entirely different set of expectations, than they did just 10 years ago. In this technological age, the little black books of the seasoned concierge have been replaced by I phones and Blackberries. Now more than ever, the constantly expanding network of the experienced concierge is critical to their ability to exceed their guests' expectations.

A concierge working in the lobby of a busy luxury or business hotel will be requested to recommend or make reservations for restaurants, entertainment, transportation, sightseeing, and shopping, hundreds of times a day. They will be requested to acquire goods and services for some of their guests including simple things: beauty treatments, foreign newspapers, and personal assistants, to the more unusual, such as purchasing and furnishing a town home for their guest's child coming to study or acquiring luxury vehicles in just the right color. Guests' requests vary from the ordinary to the bizarre. However, in most cases, the seasoned Concierge relies heavily on their extended network to consistently satisfy their guests' requests. Without their network, accomplishing the volume of requests at a busy Concierge desk would be nearly impossible.

While everyone knows that Concierges often design onward itineraries for their guests, perhaps it's not as well known that sophisticated travelers frequently rely on their trusted concierges to make recommendations on where they should have their next vacation, or where they could host a business meeting in Istanbul two days later.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.