Credit Card Guide

What is a Concierge Service?

23 October 2010 by CreditCardsCo™

Everybody needs a person who can look after all the things that make vacations and hotel stays a headache. A person who can make travel arrangements, stay on top of bills, be discreet about unusual requests, and yet available to show you the world you want to see… this is the concierge service of modern times.

Almost every major hotel in the world provides these services to their guests and every public building (residential or offices) in the world utilizes their services. Concierges are gatekeepers, the holder of keys and the lighter of candles. Concierge services are in demand the world over and the demand is rising.

The Origins of Concierge Services

While many believe that the word concierge comes from "Conservus" or fellow slave in Latin, the word most likely has its origins in France from the feudal times. The phrase "comte des cierges" was used to describe people who would light candles and maintain them for major events. In fact, the phrase literally translates to "count the candles" in English. Over time, the comte des cierges was given greater responsibilities, like fulfilling the whims of visiting nobility. Flash forward to the Middle Ages and the Concierges were gatekeepers, the "keepers of the keys" of official government buildings and the houses of the aristocracy.

In the Hospitality Industry

The early 20th century saw booming international travelers because of the rise of the steam locomotives and ships. Major hotel chains immediately recognized the need for concierge services. They employed people with knowledge of local vendors, tourist activities, restaurants, and other assorted needs of travelers to fulfill the demands. In Switzerland for example, many hotels created the position of "Hall Porters" who were the first modern concierges. Such people were required to perform many services from booking the stay of the guests to picking them up at stations in horse drawn carriages.

As the guests traveled so did their concierges. The Swiss concierges relocated across many tourist destinations in Europe, offering their services to the well-to-do clients. In 1929, the most prominent concierges met in the city of Paris to exchange information on how best to attend to their client's requests. This exchange of ideas led to the creation of the first ever association of concierge services, which was then followed by all the major cities of Europe hosting such gatherings.

The end of World War Two saw a rising demand for the concierge services. The already established associations of concierges formed a network across post-war Europe to better serve the international travels of their clients. In 1952, a man named Ferdinand Gillet, who was the Concierge at the Hotel Scribe in Paris, put together the first ever Congress of Concierges across Europe. He is now known as the father of "Les Clefs d'Or" — the Hotel Concierge association.

The Responsibilities of Modern Concierges

The modern job description of concierge services is that of "part magician, part butler." Concierges are expected to perform a variety of services, fulfilling the ordinary and sometime bizarre demands of their guests. From hotel reservation to getting clothes pressed and even filling a rock stars suite with white flowers worth thousands of dollars — the modern concierge is a very capable individual who is expected to perform his or her duties with speed and alacrity.

The word "No" does not exist in the vocabulary of the concierge. They offer options — a pink elephant instead of a white one — but saying no is one of the rare things that concierges rebel against. Another hallmark of concierge services is discretion. Keeping client requests to themselves is one of the things concierges are highly trained to do. Most concierges will turn down requests if they are illicit or illegal. Other than that, the concierge services pride themselves on being available to everyone and for everything.

Most premium credit cards come with Concierge Services option. If you are a traveler and can spend some extra money on premium card annual fee, the Concierge Service is the feature that you will bring you benefits for sure.

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