Your hotel concierge holds the key to the city! A good concierge has insider information and local contacts that will turn your stay from run of the mill to something extraordinary. And might just be able to book you the impossible. Don’t be afraid to use them…
Recently a friend was asking me for some help on booking a restaurant in Italy in anticipation of her trip over there. High season for a popular restaurant meant booking in advance was key to getting a table. But the restaurant’s website reservations had not replied to her in almost a week. What to do? I suggested she get in touch with her hotel’s concierge and ask them to do the booking, stressing that having a local contact might not only secure the restaurant a lot faster and easier but also make the restaurant quicker to reply. Especially in Europe where restaurants might have finally put up webpages and Facebook pages, but many rarely check or update their social media sites and have them up mainly for information purposes. Not all pages of course, but they look at a webpage as a source of advertising and giving out their contact information, and really prefer a phone call over an email. My friend was hesitant, feeling she didn’t want to bother the concierge desk and unsure her hotel even had a concierge. I assured her that many hotels had concierge services and there was no harm in at least reaching out and asking them if they could help in the restaurant booking. Well she did and almost instantly she got her table booking!
How to use your Concierge
Prior to arrival: About a month or so I reach out via email to the hotel I am staying with, requesting their Concierge’s email if I don’t have it already. I send a polite email of introduction, saying hello and giving my dates I will be staying at the hotel and politely asking them if they could help me with setting up my stay. This usually includes airport transfers to the hotel, restaurant reservations, perhaps special activities, especially if you are staying at a resort or during popular times, and even get recommendations and local information. They are usually very happy to do it.
At the hotel: After check in, and settling into the room, I eventually swing by the desk and introduce myself and thank them for any help they have given me. This is also a great time to discuss any other activities or reservations you might be thinking of. If you haven’t been in touch prior to arrival, the earlier you speak to the concierge and ask for requests the better the possibility of getting what you want. The concierge can be a miracle worker but giving him a running start is always helpful.
Departure: At the same time I am doing the check out I make a quick stop at the Concierge desk to say “Thank you” and to express how much I appreciated their help. This is also when I leave a tip. I realise tipping is tricky business, but base your tip on how much the concierge team has done for you and the length of your stay. It is discretionary and do take things into consideration like the location. For a city hotel I will tip at least 20+ Euros for a weekend stay of 3 nights where they booked tables for all or most of those days. If they arranged airport transport, called taxis on a regular basis, and got tickets to somewhere that might go up to 40+ Euro. I am generous with my tipping so the numbers I am quoting here are a minimum, but again, it is entirely up to you as I believe tipping is voluntary. If on top of all that the Concierge got the ungettable get or arranged something special during your stay I would definitely tip and generously as they went above and beyond. Again it is totally up to you and your comfort zone, or whatever your relationship was with the concierge during your stay. Do keep in mind though that if you ever plan to go back, a small something is appreciated. In saying all that, I also do not feel a need to tip if say they just got me one table booking for one night during my stay, or just got a local map from them, and barely used them. Obviously if I stayed longer and they do more I will give more.
It should be noted that even if a hotel is small or doesn’t have a concierge, usually the front desk can be very helpful, especially in smaller, family run places. So it is a smart idea to ask for help.
As formal as a concierge might sound, it is such an asset to the travel business. With do it yourself travel on the rise, the position is slowly fading out and that is such a shame as no one knows your destination like a hotel concierge. It goes beyond just theater tickets and restaurant reservations. Its can be about a cooking class somewhere or a small village to visit. The Concierge is your introduction to your destination and getting the best from it.
The Concierge is your introduction to your destination…