Hotel Concierge

What does a concierge do?

Concierges are the central point of contact in that they serve the needs of patrons, providing information and personal services to ensure that patrons have a pleasant experience. Concierges most commonly work in the travel and hotel industry, resorts, casinos and on cruise ships, although niche markets, such as assisted living facilities and corporate professionals, may also employ concierges. A concierge is knowledgeable about the company and what it offers to patrons, is familiar with local businesses, venues and special events, and listens to the requests made by patrons, offering solutions or recommendations tailored to their needs.

The key responsibilities of a concierge include:

  • booking concert and theatre tickets
  • recommending places to eat and making reservations
  • making complete travel arrangements, from confirming flights and seat assignments to securing visas
  • arranging airport pick-ups and other transport
  • scheduling sightseeing tours and shopping excursions
  • organising currency exchanges in the hotel
  • storing luggage until a guest checks in or out
  • helping to plan a corporate meeting, party or wedding at the hotel
  • arranging for an interpreter to assist a foreign guest
  • supervising, training and developing a team of staff, including deputy concierges, baggage porters and doormen.

Interview with a concierge

Byron Page | HEAD CONCIERGE | Mount Nelson Hotel

What does your job involve?
A concierge is responsible for answering any queries a tourist/guest has about the surrounding area, as well as the hotel. No request is too big or too small and the attitude of a good concierge is ‘never say no’. We advise on everything and can arrange practically anything. Requests range from advice on restaurants and tours to outdoor activities.

Why did you choose this profession?
I am not a person for an office environment, where the daily routine is pretty much the same from 8am to 5pm. I am a people-orientated person. Every day has its own challenges and experiences, and I find meeting different people from all around the world and experiencing foreign cultures stimulating and exciting. I love working with people.

What training did you undergo?
I completed my Hospitality Management course in 2007 at the Institute for Hospitality Education (SA). Whilst completing my studies, I also received training within various areas in a hotel. I started my career being a storeman.

What makes a good concierge?
The person must have confidence and be well spoken. They need to be passionate and self-motivated. Interpersonal skills must be a natural characteristic and they must be able to make people feel comfortable, knowing they are in good hands.

Is experience vital?
Formal training lays a solid foundation and is the platform from which every standard is measured, but experience plays a big role as a hotelier’s knowledge progresses with time spent working in the industry. Experience is also a key ingredient for job hunting in the hospitality industry these days.

Describe a typical working day
This is not your average ‘coffee, emails and meetings’ type of job. I never know who I am going to meet, what requests will come my way and what time my day will end.

What do you love most about your work?
That every day is different. The concierge is one of the few members of the hotel staff that must have a good knowledge of the surrounding area, as well as local activities and restaurants. We try our best to make every guest’s stay an authentic Cape experience. Knowing you played a part in making their visit to Cape Town a memorable one is more than enough job satisfaction for me.

Mention some career highlights
In my three years at the Mount Nelson Hotel, I’ve had the honourable pleasure of assisting a number of celebrities, movie stars and singers to make the most of their time in Cape Town: big names like Pierce Brosnan and Paris Hilton.

What are your future goals?
Well, at the moment I’m more than happy being the head concierge for the legendary Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. One of my current goals is to become a member of the Concierge Golden Key Society internationally.

Any advice for someone just starting out?
Hard work and passion are two key ingredients in a good recipe for success in this industry. There are no short cuts to the top.

Describe your job in three words
Inventing authentic experiences.

Interview with a concierge

Tony Cele | ASSISTANT CONCIERGE | The Oyster Box Hotel, Durban

What does your job involve?
A concierge is responsible for answering any queries a tourist/guest has about the surrounding area, as well as the hotel. No request is too big or too small and the attitude of a good concierge is ‘never say no’. We advise on everything and can arrange practically anything. Requests range from advice on restaurants and tours to outdoor activities.

Why did you choose this profession?
I am not a person for an office environment, where the daily routine is pretty much the same from 8am to 5pm. I am a people-orientated person. Every day has its own challenges and experiences, and I find meeting different people from all around the world and experiencing foreign cultures stimulating and exciting. I love working with people.

What training did you undergo?
I completed my Hospitality Management course in 2007 at the Institute for Hospitality Education (SA). Whilst completing my studies, I also received training within various areas in a hotel. I started my career being a storeman.

What makes a good concierge?
The person must have confidence and be well spoken. They need to be passionate and self-motivated. Interpersonal skills must be a natural characteristic and they must be able to make people feel comfortable, knowing they are in good hands.

Is experience vital?
Formal training lays a solid foundation and is the platform from which every standard is measured, but experience plays a big role as a hotelier’s knowledge progresses with time spent working in the industry. Experience is also a key ingredient for job hunting in the hospitality industry these days.

Describe a typical working day
This is not your average ‘coffee, emails and meetings’ type of job. I never know who I am going to meet, what requests will come my way and what time my day will end.

What do you love most about your work?
That every day is different. The concierge is one of the few members of the hotel staff that must have a good knowledge of the surrounding area, as well as local activities and restaurants. We try our best to make every guest’s stay an authentic Cape experience. Knowing you played a part in making their visit to Cape Town a memorable one is more than enough job satisfaction for me.

Mention some career highlights
In my three years at the Mount Nelson Hotel, I’ve had the honourable pleasure of assisting a number of celebrities, movie stars and singers to make the most of their time in Cape Town: big names like Pierce Brosnan and Paris Hilton.

What are your future goals?
Well, at the moment I’m more than happy being the head concierge for the legendary Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. One of my current goals is to become a member of the Concierge Golden Key Society internationally.

Why did you choose the hospitality sector?
I love helping guests to get the most from their holiday. As the concierge, I have daily opportunities to share the best aspects of the hotel and the city with visitors.

What training did you do?
I’ve had a ‘mixed journey’ to get to my current position. I started off in the scullery at eMakhosini Boutique Hotel in Durban, and was then promoted to waitron, barman supervisor, receptionist and, finally, night audit. I started in night audit at The Oyster Box hotel and was recently promoted to the assistant concierge position.

Describe a typical day on the job
My days start early, as guests want to plan their outings first thing in the morning. I do all the bookings and arrangements to meet their various requirements. This means I have to be very organised, as I often have quite a few different things to arrange at the same time. My relationships with people at local restaurants and attractions are also very important. Sometimes I have to rely on these connections to meet the needs of my guests. The job is very dynamic and no day is ever the same.

What do you enjoy most?
The guests! I love interacting with different people from all parts of the world… every single day. I never get bored with the job.

Anything you don’t like?
People interfering with my arrangements. There are many people in the hotel environment dealing with customer service and sometimes our paths overlap, which can cause confusion!

Any hurdles you’ve had to overcome?
Because I am pretty young and I am also very small in size, I found managing staff very challenging. I have recently undergone management training and I feel much more confident now.

Career highlights include
Working with different characters and different cultures. An occupation in hospitality gives you the chance to have a worldwide experience, wherever you work.

What ‘makes’ a concierge?
You have to be a people person and be outgoing; be adaptable and willing to learn new things.

Your future goals?
To get my concierge keys, and become one of the most well-known and respected concierges in the world.

Experience versus formal training?
Formal training is very important in providing a good foundation for your career, but there are things you can’t be taught that come only with experience.

Any advice for school-leavers?
You must be familiar with your environment; be prepared to go the extra mile to get information that you didn’t have; you can’t be a ‘clock-watcher’; you must be able to communicate with different personalities and cultures; be well organised; and you mustn’t be afraid to take risks.

Your work in three words
Dynamic • Passionate • Focused

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO I NEED?

Training and certification in the hospitality and tourism industry may help to prepare for becoming a concierge, but formal training is not necessary. Many concierges are promoted from within a company, having worked various entry-level jobs to learn the necessary skills. That said, completing a course of study may ensure being chosen for a job over others with no qualification. A National Senior Certificate that meets the requirements for a diploma or degree course is a prerequisite for some courses, while others may only require a Grade 10 pass.

WHAT SUBJECTS DO I NEED?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Hospitality Studies

WHERE CAN I STUDY?

Sam Hospitality Academy and Consulting
Course: Hotel Front Desk
www.samhospitality.co.za

Drumbeat Academy
Hospitality Training; Hospitality Reception Training
www.drumbeatacademy.co.za

IHT Hotel School
Diploma: Hospitality Management 1
www.hotel-training.com

Durban University of Technology
Various Courses: Hospitality and Tourism
www.dut.ac.za

College of South Africa
Hospitality Courses
www.collegesa.co.za

University of Johannesburg
National Diploma: Hospitality Management
www.uj.ac.za

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFO?

Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa – www.fedhasa.co.za
Institute for Hospitality Education in South Africa – www.cookingschoolguide.com
Southern Africa Tourism Services Association – www.satsa.com

Sources:
www.jobs.lovetoknow.com
www.go2hr.ca