The professional concierge organization, Les Clefs d’Or, has been around since 1929 and you may have known or guessed, was formed in France. The crossed golden keys a member earns is quite prestigious, there are only 650 in the United States and about 3500 worldwide. The organization is strictly a hotel service organization. Sorry, no bed and breakfast innkeepers need apply! This doesn’t mean you cannot achieve the kind of excellent service a Les Clefs d’Or concierge provides.
Let us look at some basic services a concierge provides.
- Make restaurant reservations
- Arrange for spa services
- Recommend night life
- Book transportation
- Procure tickets to special events
- Assist with tours of local attractions
Innkeepers are obviously concierges, since you do this stuff all day, night and in between! Going above and beyond the basics is what a great innkeeper/concierge must do to exceed the expectations of their guests. Here is a great story and a great example of going above, beyond and achieving the nearly impossible.
A guest walks up to the concierge and says. ”The cheeseburgers here are terrific. I want to send one to my brother in Bahrain and I want it to arrive hot.” “The concierge calmly replies, “Will that be with Bleu Cheese or Cheddar?”
That concierge was Holly Stiel, a motivational speaker and the first US woman member of Les Clefs d’Or, quite an honor. Many of you may have heard her speak at the PAII Conference in Little Rock this year. Holly tells this story often as does The B&B Team in our seminars and presentations. In fact this is the opening quote in Chapter 1 of her new book, ‘The Art and Science of the Hotel Concierge.’ There is so much in this book that anyone involved in hospitality or any service business will find informative and inspiring.
Great innkeepers/concierges do not work alone. Having an extensive list of contacts with local merchants and service providers they can rely on is essential. Building those important relationships with your contacts can make you look absolutely brilliant and your guests absolutely grateful. There is an entire chapter in the book entitled; ‘Building and Nurturing Relationships’.
Another part of great service is anticipating a guest’s wants and needs. It starts with listening. A friend and concierge colleague of Holly’s, Johanna Husk, writes in the book’s preface; “Yes, we are here to answer questions, but often the questions a visitor asks is just the tip of a vast iceberg, underlying what they really want to know: How can they get the most from the limited time they have during their visit, and how will they fit it all in to make an enjoyable experience?” Holly calls this; ‘being a sleuth and reading the moment.’
This is where the art and science comes in. With new innkeepers it sometimes takes time to develop these skills, but once you do you can become the ultimate problem solver, organizer and hero. Your guests will remember you, the great experience they had that YOU helped create and come back for more!