We all know how important first impressions are…
Especially in luxury hotels, the smallest of details can have a big impact on the experience of a guest. More often than not, a concierge is the first interaction a guest has with the hotel; They are a direct reflection of your hotel and can either set a vibrant tone for a great stay, or disappoint a guest’s expectations.
Most concierge mistakes are easily corrected if you know what they are, but you’d be surprised how often the these details are overlooked.
1. Cultural Address
This is one of the basics… and one of the most overlooked. Guests traveling from other countries always appreciate a hint of home and a respectful cultural address can be a welcoming gesture in an otherwise foreign environment.
A head bow or “hello” in a native language is often enough when well placed… but a concierge needs to know when it’s appropriate (the wrong use can have the opposite effect). Even if your etiquette isn’t perfect, your effort of understanding will frequently evoke a smile – an essential to customer service.
Let’s look at an example: Imagine an American concierge at a 5* hotel greets a wealthy Indian man. The concierge asks a question and the Indian guest shakes his head from left to right. The concierge may then act on this as the client had told him ‘no’. In fact in India the shake of the head ‘no’ means yes! So the concierge may fail to enact what the clients request is and cause a problem.
How to correct this concierge mistake: Some staff may be unsure about other cultures, but a little bit of education and cultural exploring will ease their anxiety and make them more comfortable around foreign guests. This training can be done in-house and should be molded to meet your predominant clientele. Professional concierge training specifically around cultural address is available as a service as well. See the end of this post for more information.
2. Body Language
These subliminal queues of your body can unknowingly ease the mood in a room, making guests feel welcome, or it can add tension to the air. Posture, eye contact, hand placement, a friendly smile, are small details that come natural to great customer service staff but are often overlooked by new staff or those in stressful situations.
Even under the pressure of a dissatisfied guest, your staff should maintain a welcoming and understanding stance with their verbal and non-verbal communication. Holding a defensive stance, while unintentional, will add stress to an interaction. Simply recognising this small detail will allow a concierge to fix the problem, but they have to know how to recognise and build positive habits to maintain the right body language.
For example: A busy hotel concierge desk might have 4 or more concierge behind the desk, all working at their stations and computers tending to guest requests. A new guest walks up to the desk looking for some advice. Immediately a concierge staff member should note the guest, make eye contact, smile and offer to help them. The body language of the concierge should be neutral, open and approachable, even if the concierge is busy and overwhelmed.
How to correct body language: Concierge need to know what their personal queues are for defensive or unfriendly body language so they can recognise them and adjust accordingly. Practicing specific situations will prepare them to react instinctively so when they are in a situation they don’t even need to think, they just know exactly how to act.
Most staff training programmes address this, but it can be quickly brushed over and easily forgotten. Building positive habits around body language is an essential part of training exceptional concierge.
Focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
3. Someone is Always Watching
Another common concierge mistake is to be so focused with the work at hand, booking a clients request into the system, they may forget that they are being watched. Not in a creepy way, but by passing guests in the hotel lobby, other employees or even the hotel manager!
An adjustment of the uniform, a quick scratch of the body, or god forbid a poke of the nose could all be witnessed by guests and those around you. You may not feel like you are being watched but you are, and your presentation and performance should always be 100%.
For example: A member of the concierge team suffers from allergies. During the summer months it’s particularly difficult and the nose and eyes are often streaming. The hotel manager might suggest that stronger antihistames are taken, or a visit with the hotel doctor could be arranged in order to prescribe medication to help. No guest wants to be served from a snotty (literally) concierge.
How to remember: Self awareness is a key characteristic for hotel staff and it can be learned with proper training. An effective concierge training programme will allow staff to recognise how to get into the correct zone of work, deal with problems (or sneezes) as they crop up, and ensure they are dealt with in the most professional way. They will teach them tools and tricks of the trade to continually remember that someone is watching you.
Hotels and clients around the world notice a positive impact on their concierge and front of the house following hotel concierge training – money well spent!
Linked to cultural address and body language, Etiquette is often overlooked by concierge and front of house. It is the etiquette that the guests will remember. A correct understanding of etiquette and how you should behave in different circumstances will be the difference between progressing up the career ladder or plateauing for the concierge.
The pride that is taken in the work should be exemplary and it should be clear that etiquette and understanding of etiquette is being closely followed. Hotel concierge training will always focus on etiquette, as this is at the heart of most guest interactions.
For example: A busy hotel and concierge desk is approached by a Middle Eastern woman (veiled). The desk is currently staffed only by men. Is it appropriate for her to communicate with the staff or should a female member of staff be found? It will depend of course of which country the hotel is in, but let’s assume we are in the USA. Here, men and women are able to interact in a public setting. If no women are available to speak to the female guest, then a male member of staff should help her, but be aware not to offer the hand to shake, or ask intrusive questions which could be perceived as inappropriate
How to correct etiquette mistakes: Professional concierge training specifically around general etiquette alongside cultural etiquette is available as a service as well. Once the members of staff are clear about general etiquette, they will be able to respond and react accordingly as each new situation crops up.
It is very interesting to see how different candidates perceive and interpret etiquette, and the concierge training programme will highlight these different opinions and try to find a common ground, ensuring that clarity and understanding is at the heart of the training.
About Polo & Tweed
Polo & Tweed is a professional luxury staff recruitment and training agency. We work with countless hotels around the world, helping fine tune their approach and giving staff the very best skills. Staff training will resonate throughout an entire hotel, re-enforcing the hotel brand, improving its image and boosting guest satisfaction. If you have more questions or would like to speak to us regarding training please do get in touch.