Many hotel guests are still often confused about difference between administrator and concierge. Who are concierges and what is Les Clefs d'Or worldwide association? Destinations’ editor has met with their representatives at Hilton Kyiv Hotel to talk about the peculiarities of this profession.
On the 6th of October 1929 eleven Concierges of Grand Hotels in Paris founded the "Community", which allowed them to share ideas and skills. They realized that together they can exchange more information and comply better with requests of hotels’ guests around the city. Later such communities appeared in other countries in Europe. The meeting of the General Assembly that took place on November 27, 1929 gathered together more than 100 members of Les Clefs d’Or association.
Who are these key-keepers? These are people with an innate sense of tact, impeccable taste and natural intuition. They know not only the best restaurants in the city, but also the owners of these places, the curators of trendy galleries are their friends as well as the managers of art spaces and business communities. Their speed and ability not be surprised by any request make them an elite of hotel service.
Les Clefs d'Or current emblem - crossed golden keys - located on the lapels of concierges’ jackets, was developed together with the Bucherer brand.
Les Clefs d'Or or “Golden Keys” is not a mysterious order, but quite modern organization, although built up as a club. One of its objectives is to acquaint the members with each other to create a worldwide concierge network. «In Service Through Friendship» is the motto of this association.
Members of Les Clefs d'Or from Hilton Kyiv
"Golden Keys" has about 4,000 members in about 50 countries around the world. And there are only 7 members in Ukraine. With two of them, Aleksey Nikitan and Aleksandra Tanyuk, Destinations’ editor has met in Hilton Kyiv.
Aleksey Nikitan: Today many companies in the country finally try to focus or refocus on quality of service. Advertising itself does not help much to bring you clients. We need a certain level of service, but in our country only very few people know what it means. We, concierges with “golden keys”, have these skills and we try to share them, conducting workshops and lectures in different companies and universities in the country.
We’ve visited Odessa and Lviv with educational lectures and Kharkiv is in our plans. It is necessary to create a specific network of concierges, so that we can help our guests if they are not in Kiev and to transmit certain knowledge of services to our colleagues.
In fact, empathy and love are the main things in our work. If you treat a stranger as your friend, he feels it and he will come back again and again.
How can anyone become a carrier of the “golden keys”?
Aleksandra Tanyuk: I am the newest key-keeper and the only one of this year in Ukraine, who had the honor to pass a series of tests and get a membership. In fact the rules of entry into Les Clefs d'Or in Europe are slightly different than in Ukraine. Here they are a bit easier than there. You need to work for 5 years in hotel and for 4 years as a concierge. With this experience you can apply for membership in Les Clefs d'Or. Then, the candidate must pass an exam and tests, have an interview and prepare a project that will benefit the association. Plus, we need to have the recommendation of the two concierges with “golden keys”. They will be your supervisors.
Aleksey: During these 4 years of experience a person has to gather a certain number of contacts, friends and to be able to do something in this city that others can’t. Concierge can be excluded from Les Clefs d'Or if there is some criticism, and if the negative facts are confirmed. All new members regularly report what they have achieved within a certain period of time.
Aleksandra: This work is unique. We have access to the unique needs of the guest, to the visitors who come here for a variety of issues, whether it is a date with a beloved one or a business trip. And sometimes you have not much time to organize a business conference or a wedding. We had such a case. At 10 am our guest said: "I want to make a proposal and to choose a ring for my woman. Where would you advise me to go? "The concierge’ job supposes that you will not google something and advise to your client, but you have to know the owners of salons, restaurants, boutiques and so on, that you can negotiate with them about meeting your clients and help them with the requests. As a result we found an elegant ring for a half hour and then I asked: "Can we also organize a wedding today?" And he said: "Yes, it's a good idea!" The bride and groom were from different cities and even countries. It was necessary to translate correctly and draw up the documents, to negotiate with the registry office, and so on, but we coped with everything. There was official ceremony in the Central Registry Office, a bouquet, champagne, photography, car, saxophonist, trip for a dress in a boutique and a romantic evening on a yacht.
You are mages who are able to solve any problem anytime. How do you deal with stress?
Aleksey: Any situation teaches us. And we are not afraid of anything. We do not underestimate ourselves, we are equal with our guests, we are their friends and our “golden keys” add some confidence. We are the masters of the situation and the guest will be fine if he trusts us. This is the idea that we are trying to convey to every guest. For concierge it is important to accept the request and pay attention to every detail. This helps to avoid further stress.
Aleksandra: psychological skills also help. Guests do not even understand sometimes how we understand what they need. But we are always in touch, even if they are in another city.
Are there some national features of concierge service in Ukrainian?
Aleksey: National peculiarities do not exist. The principle of operation is the same. Once a year we have a European meeting and World Congress in different countries. We exchange experience. The association controls that the service is the same in any country at the highest level.
In what other Kiev hotels are there concierges with the “golden keys”?
Aleksey: There are Les Clefs d'Or concierges in Opera hotel, Fairmont hotel, Hyatt and Premier Palace hotels. There are not so many 5-star hotels in our country.
Concierge is not only wizard but also a kind of a city manager, is he\she?
Aleksandra: Yes, we are a kind of city guides. Every day we do a summary of what is happening in Kiev, what events are coming. We visit educational lectures at the boutiques and we visit the restaurants, wine tastings. The only way we can advise the customer something, is to check it by ourseves.
Aleksey: I like the wording: Concierge is a showcase of the city and of the country.
There is such a practice, when a guest goes to another country, we contact the hotel there and the concierge informs the staff there about some client’s preferences. If he likes to sleep on a jasmine pillow, we will announce this and in a new hotel a pleasant surprise is waiting for our guest.
Aleksandra: Wow effect is very important. There are those clients who live with us for a year, those who work in foreign representative offices of international companies. We had such an Italian guest. He’s told me that when he comes home for holidays his children prepare him a bath with foam and throw their ducks into the water, arranging such a warm welcoming for him. For that person this is the feeling of home. Then one day, when he returned from a trip to Hilton Kiev, we arranged a surprise for him with hot bath with foam and ducks, and with garland in Italian: Welcome home. It touched him to tears. We were pleased.
Aleksey: Actually, people do not need much. Generally speaking, it is about attention, care and human relations. In our country it is provided only in the 5-star hotels unfortunately; it is a kind of luxury. These little things, for which you can earn customer’s loyalty, don’t cost money. And it doesn’t matter if we talk about 5-star hotel or small coffee shop.
Aleksandra: I have to say that we are not only helpers for our guests, but also for the guests of other hotels nearby. And their guests often come to us, knowing that there is a concierge who will help them for sure. Such cases happened more than once. We helped some foreigners who got lost in the city, and even organized a trip over Ukraine for one foreign visitor who was not a guest of our hotel and didn’t have big budget. And I'm sure that Ukrainians are one of the most hospitable nations.
Aleksey: Sometimes people ask us: where do you get such a friendly staff? I answer that it is experience and policy of the company, that takes care of its employees and what values it preaches. Our values coincide with the universal ones. No need to invest in advertising, you have to invest efforts into service. After all, as for me, real service is equal to love.
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak