One of the expected services offered by luxury hotels is the concierge and it has become a recognized profession. Les Clefs d’Or, which means Golden Keys, has over 3,000 professional concierge members, all with proven track records of making the impossible happen.
Some in the travel industry predicted that with the prolific information available on the Internet at our fingertips, a concierge would soon be a relic of the past, but apparently not so. President of the US branch of the Clef d’Or, Jeanne Mills, sees their role as more essential than ever. “Guests are seeking the guidance of concierges now to help them filter the barrage of information and to seek personal insight.”
Claudette Breve, concierge at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans has no fear of being replaced by an Internet search engine. “Does a computer have a personality and charm or hands-on experience? I’d say no. Can a computer get you courtside seats for playoffs or a front-row seat at a sold-out concert? That’s the difference between a computer and a concierge“, she comments.
Although many of the questions she faces on a daily basis are mundane, such as “How do I take the streetcar?” or explaining the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine, her skills are truly honed when challenged to provide the impossible.
“If it’s not illegal or immoral, we’ll do it,” said Rudy Rasmussen, concierge at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. He cites many misconceptions about the role of a concierge. “We’re approachable, and we’re not snobs!” he says as he tries to let guests know that he is available to do more than just hand out maps and make reservations, important as those tasks are. Although many guests shy away from using the concierge fearing a large tip is required, he feels that this should never be the case. Tipping is at the guest’s discretion, in line with the magnitude of the request being made.