The Concierge plays a significant role in the quality of a guest experience in a hotel. He or she is the ultimate insider who possesses a wealth of information and a network of contacts diligently cultivated over time. The ‘black or the red book’ may have been replaced by an electronic organizer, however the nature of the expansive knowledge remains the same. Their key to success is who they know! Their network of specialist contacts may not be necessarily listed in the yellow pages hence qualifying them as the scrupulously guarded secrets. Typical concierge requests may include restaurant reservations, theater tickets, a question about local transportation or where to check e-mail. But it’s the unexpected that makes this position so exciting. Obtaining a new passport in an hour, organizing an elephant for a photo shoot or planning an unforgettable marriage proposal for a client is what really puts the service to test!

History…

The word ‘concierge’ seems to have two roots. It seems to have originated from the Latin word ‘conservus’ meaning fellow slave or the French word ‘comte des cierges’ meaning the keeper of candles. In old times it is believed that the concierge was trusted with the keys to all the rooms in the palace in order to ensure appropriate services were in place for functions and ceremonies. They were responsible for making arrangements and attend to the whims of the nobility in the palaces, castles and government buildings. Early 20th century saw many grand hotels of Switzerland introduced a ‘hall porter’ position to ensure guest comfort during their stay. These concierges would travel across Europe to attend to their guests which in most cases were very affluent. On April 25, 1952 ‘L’Union Europeene des Portiers des Grand Hotels’ (UEPGH) was formed in Cannes, France through the dedicated efforts of Ferdinand Gillet, concierge at the Hotel Sribe in Paris! Today it is known as ‘Union Internationale des Concierge d’Hotels (UICH) or “Les Clefs d’Or.”

Les Clefs d’Or…
A selected few concierge proudly display the crossed gold keys on their lapels. This signifies that they hold membership to a very prestigious club of highly qualified and skilled professionals – Les Clefs d’Or! The gold keys are a reward for dedicating years of hard work to this noble profession and their full commitment to fulfill every guest request as long as it is legal and ethical. The Les Clefs d’Or concierges are globally connected and have the power to accomplish the unthinkable. Their motto says it all – “In Service through Friendship”.

Qualities required…

* A positive attitude and a pleasant personality
* The Love to serve and persistently pursue to fulfill every guest request
* Be fully informed about their cities and give advice on restaurants, clubs, museums, theatre, sightseeing tours and shopping etc.
* Exercise patience and kindness towards guests and staff
* Maintain composure even in stressful situations
* Excellent grooming standards that reflect positively on the organization

Membership and applying for your first key…

* A minimum of two years paid employment in a hotel
* Attend eight meetings in the last 12 month period prior to application
* Submit an application package containing a letter of support from your Chef Concierge or General Manager and a resume and cover letter addressed to the Vice Director
* Make a brief presentation at the National Board Meeting highlighting your motivation to become a member of Les Clefs d’Or
* Your regional members will vote on your application and if successful you will be advised by the Vice Director for your area. You will be presented with the key at your next meeting and will be required to pay an annual membership fee of $250

Career Path…

In most cases concierges start their career as a member of the Bell staff and rise to the position of Captain and then apply for transfer to the concierge desk. As the Chef Concierge is well informed about their performance, he/she can develop them accordingly. Alternatively, a promising guest service agent or supervisor may also have the qualities and skills required to become a concierge.

Pan American Les Clefs d’Or Congress

The 15th Pan American Les Clefs d’Or Congress will be held in Vancouver from April 18th – 22nd, 2008 and is expected to attract over 375 members from USA, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Chile. The concierges will congregate to increase their industry knowledge and learn skills that will directly benefit their hotels and guests. Above all the purpose of the congress is to promote the solidarity and prosperity of the concierge network.

For more information on the Pan American Les Clefs d’Or Congress please click here