We focus so much on securing the top elite statuses to take advantage of the prescribed benefits that we forget that hotel staff is often empowered to help us even when we don’t have status. Fancy extra bottled water or more toiletries? A simple phone call can be the answer. And even a few dollars as a tip can score some nice perks.
You would be surprised at the requests and services that a good hotel concierge can handle on any given day. Perhaps you remember the television commercial that Marriott had a few years ago about a business traveler that arrives at the hotel with mismatched shoes before his meeting. The concierge hit the town to find a solution even in the wee hours of the morning before most of the shops had opened.
On a trip of my own, I had a button fall off of my sweater, and the staff in the concierge lounge sewed it back on for me. We are often shy about asking someone for help, but in a hotel, people are glad to assist (even if it is for a quick extension of the hand for a reward later).
It’s no ordinary job
Lest you think all hotel concierges are created equal, there are some important things to note. Pay attention to their lapel; the finest hotels employ concierges from Les Clefs d’Or, the top-of-the-line organization that is the pinnacle of success for a concierge. It has 4,000 members in 60 countries.
Membership requires that a concierge works at least five years in the industry and be a part of anonymous screening by another member before taking a final exam. Not all hotels will have the budget to hire a top concierge, but many hotels do provide specialized ones that focus on specific topics.
Like your caffeine? Ask for the coffee curator at the Costa Rica Marriott in San Jose. There’s a soap concierge at the Viceroy Riviera Maya that hand cuts your preferred scent of soap from big blocks of homemade, all-natural soap daily.
Puerto Rico’s Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa puts the Director of Romance in charge of improving the experience for honeymooners or those rekindling some passion. Hard Rock Hotels has a music concierge that can deliver DJ equipment or a Fender guitar with floor amp, headphones, and full set up, free of charge. The Westin Austin Downtown can arrange for rooftop guitar lessons, and the pet-friendly Intercontinental Atlanta Buckhead has pet concierges that are happy to walk your dog while you are away for the day.
Forget the club level, rely on your concierge instead
In February, many airline and hotel loyalty programs reset the clock on their elite programs, and many travelers log into their accounts to find a surprise: their elite status has vanished due to not meeting the established requirements from the year prior. But, even if you don’t get the free upgrade to the club level, the lobby concierge or front desk still has your back.
Don’t be shy to ask them to help reconfirm flights for you or deal with your lost or delayed luggage. They have umbrellas (why pack your own) and spare phone chargers to borrow that other guests have left behind. The Intercontinental Toronto Centre concierge even teaches guests how to use selfie sticks.
Special occasions are a great time to rely on your concierge. The Savoy, the Fairmont-managed hotel in London, has been known to assist in wedding proposals. When a concierge does go out of their way to assist, that is when handing over a tip is a nice consideration. How much to tip is up to you, but if you visit a hotel frequently, keep in mind that a concierge will remember you. Don’t be shy to contact them in advance of your arrival for any special requests.
Have a favorite kind of wine or refreshment? Instead of relying on what is in the club lounge, reach out to the hotel to see if they can arrange it for you. Starwood even has an Ambassador program for its most loyal guests (not necessarily based on elite status, but actually travel spend and patterns) that organizes these personal preferences without even asking. They learn your favorite amenities to have them waiting for you.
Maybe that mileage or mattress run for elite status is not as worth it when you consider what a good hotel concierge can do for you.