“AN INTRODUCTION TO THE “LITTLE KNOWN PROFESSION” In Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, North America, and Asia, almost every hotel has its concierges. And the good hotels have Clefs d’Or concierges. You can tell them by their crossed golden keys, worn on the lapels of their uniforms.
In this age of self-service and automation, especially in North America, they are something of an anachronism, with their willingness and devotion to service. They seem to be relics of a bygone era. They will do anything you ask so long as it is morally, legally, and humanly possible. You will also be able to understand them clearly, because they often command several languages. Experienced travelers, business people and tourists have described Concierges as “jacks of all trades and master of many”. At times, they are part Merlin’s, part Houdini’s.
Their services run an extraordinary gamut. They do all kinds of conventional things, and you can actually leave with them any type of service that you require and find that all is completed and done to your satisfaction while you were away attending to your business appointment or sightseeing adventure.
They will handle your mail and messages, make reservations for concerts and dinners, recommend tours, suggest restaurants and shopping locations, and guide you away from the local tourist traps. But, it is usually with the unusual that they really shine. They are travel consultants, personal and business expediters, social advisers, confidential secretaries, and handymen. Because they specialize in so many areas, they can advise or help solve virtually every problem that might beset the international traveler. Over the years, they have developed a network of acquaintances, friends, and contacts ranging from the civilian sector to the government arena - all-willing to help them and, through them, guide you.
Clefs d’Or concierges are remarkable people. They did not get to be that way by accident, either. It takes years of hard work and training.
The luxurious surroundings in which the concierges work their magic demand that they must possess certain qualities that are, perhaps, not often found in people. They must have a pleasant and welcoming appearance, good grooming habits, excellent sight and hearing, and absolute integrity. It is important that a concierge be in good health and physically fit, with an ability not only to stand for a considerably long period of time, but also to get around actively when conditions require it.
The Clefs d’Or concierges of large hotels are always dressed neatly with the greatest attention to detail. Their clothes reflect the fact that they work for important establishments. Personal cleanliness must, of course, be impeccable. In short, the most successful concierges will be those of cheerful aspect and smart appearance, those motivated by a genuine desire to serve the public. They should never present a frown to the public but always try to appear agreeable, leaving their problems away from work.
Among their intellectual qualifications, concierges should have the gift of good observation and a keen sense of humour. They should have a logical mind with an ability to discern priorities and a very keen memory.
The characteristics of a good Clefs d’Or concierge include not only vitality and perseverance, but also prudence, patience, kindness toward junior staff, self-confidence, initiative, the ability to adapt quickly to different situations, a sense of discipline, the ability to give orders, to understand, to motivate others, tact, flexibility, leadership and the ability to work well under pressure.
Some concierges begin as pages for bell staff and rise to Bell Captain, Reception, or Information Clerk before apprenticeship at the concierge desk. From the moment they show promise, they will work under the watchful eyes and tutelage of the head concierge (or Chef Concierge, the more appropriate label). Eventually, the budding concierges may apply for membership in Clefs d’Or.