A Concierge (translated from the French word meaning “keeper of the Keys”) is the person who “gets everything done” when you’re staying at a hotel, who can add real value to your life by taking care of some essential and time-consuming tasks for you. They also have an extensive network to help you get VIP access to some of the most ultra-exclusive events and experiences. They are the person who gets you into a restaurant, when it’s full, or books your transfers when you’ve forgotten, and so much more.
Alumni and Head Concierge of the exquisite The Oyster Box Hotel, Kishan Gokul gives us the inside scoop. Born and raised in Newcastle, 26-year-old Kishan has been living in Durban for the past 8 years. He graduated from the International Hotel School in 2013 and has been forging his path in the Hospitality Industry. Hospitality is one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic fields of employment, with positive trends forecasted for the coming years. “I honestly find it fascinating and intriguing that I am able to meet people from all over the world that have different cultures and languages by just doing my job. This role revolves around recommending restaurants and tourist attractions to guests. Therefore, my team and I are often invited by various organisations to sample their products or services, and this is often is given to us on a complimentary basis which is always a bonus,” enthuses Kishan.
“For example, if a guest were arriving from New York City and they were staying at The Oyster Box. I would recommend that they start their day on Durban’s Golden Mile, with its beaches and various hotspots, a must for first timers! The Kwa Muhle Apartheid Museum is another great spot for travellers visiting Durban for the first time, as I believe this gives them a great insight into our history and it helps them understand the path that many took to get us to where we are today. By this time, one must stop for a Bunny Chow, iconic to Durban! After having a meal like that, a relaxing boat trip around the harbour to view one of the largest and busiest shipping terminals in sub-Saharan Africa is a great way to end a day of sightseeing! In my opinion the perfect end to the day must be at The Lighthouse Bar at The Oyster Box Hotel, sipping on our signature cocktail – “The Umhlanga Shling” while watching the sunset over the Lighthouse & the beautiful Indian Ocean,” says Kishan.
The Oyster Box Concierge Department has a total of 17 staff members. Kishan reports directly to the Front Office Manager, Deputy General Manager and General Manager. The key responsibilities of a Head Concierge include: Overseeing and supervising all the porters, doorman, drivers and Assistant Concierge’s. Having an up-to-date knowledge of all new events, trendy hot spots and tourist experiences in and around Durban. Keeping informed with any new trends that occur in the industry and being an all-round team player to the whole Hotel! “With the skills that I have acquired during my years as a Concierge vary from all sectors of the Hotel from housekeeping, to being in the kitchen (if needed to assist), I am happy and always willing to offer my skills whenever I can. I am hoping to obtain my Concierge Keys soon (fingers crossed). The Concierge Keys is a global organisation that only a hand full of Concierges belong to. This is the highest level to attain for any Concierge, so I will do all it takes to get inducted into this prestigious association,” says Kishan.
The hospitality industry is a dynamic and rewarding industry to be in! Knowing that the smile you see on a guest’s face is a result of something that you did for them is one of the best feelings in the world. If you have a passion and the drive to help and serve people then there is nothing stopping you from succeeding in this thriving industry. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines hospitality as, “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests or hospitable treatment.” Dictionary.com goes further to define it as, “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Hospitality, to me simply means ensuring each guest need is met & exceeded, doing whatever it takes to make sure your guest is taken care of & happy, and finally, always ensuring you smile, because a smile is the universal language of kindness, concludes Kishan.
For those interested in this career, we suggest that you a study our Diploma in Hospitality Management with American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) Recognition or the Diploma in Hospitality Management Programme. For more information you can visit our website www.hotelschool.co.za