Author Nicola Feuilherade   |  October 2, 2017

Concierge definition

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. He/she is the person who gets you into a restaurant when it’s full, or books your transfers when you’ve forgotten, and so much more…

What is the Society of the Golden Keys all about?

The Society of the Golden Keys, also called Les Clefs d’Or, is an exclusive society for concierges that was started in 1929 in Paris (with just 11 concierges) in order to work together for the benefit of their clients. The aim of this society remains true to its origins and exists to develop friendship amongst concierges globally, and help develop a network of contacts in the hotel fraternity. Today, the society links over 40 associations worldwide. The French word Clefs d’Or translated into English means ‘Golden Keys’.

For visitors to SA, concierges are usually the first point of contact in welcoming our international visitors

The Society of the Golden Keys is recognisable to hotel guests all over the world by the lapel pins of top concierges (which reflect the keys). The Golden Keys is awarded by Les Clefs D’Or. The recognition is synonymous with “excellent services rendered by a seasoned professional”. Those who wear the pin are revered for their professionalism, integrity, local knowledge and impeccable recommendations. Concierges who wish to apply for the Golden Keys should have at least 5 years of experience in this role within a reputable hotel, and they must be nominated for application by two members of the society. Candidates are interviewed by members of the Committee to assess their competence, their local and national knowledge and their suitability. It is so prestigious that there are currently only 12 golden key members in South Africa.

What do Concierges do?

Concierges roles are vital to the hotel industry as they are the first and last impression of the hotel to guests. Their mission is to ensure that every guest that stays in their hotels is granted discretion, served with the utmost respect and that any question asked is answered, all requests are considered and then dealt with in a timely manner.

A concierge will essentially do whatever you ask them to do – provided it’s legal and humanly possible. Services include anything from handling your emails or messages to recommending local attractions, getting theatre tickets, shopping for you, booking your travel or even doing secretarial services. Concierges are very versatile – they can carry out a number of job roles, ensuring that guests have an amazing ‘overall’ experience. Over the years, the Clefs d’Or concierges have honed their networks, their skills, their acquaintances (to celebrities, government officials and more) as well as their general knowledge, to ensure that travellers experience the very best when they stay at a hotel where they are based.

They can arrange introductions, set up romantic dinners and secure you front row seats at the next game or event. They are a true marvel and they use what they know together with who they know, to get you what you need.
Although many hotel chains now have “Concierge” apps which link to local guides of what to do in the area, nothing can replace the knowledge, responsiveness, availability and above all human contact, which is a concierge’s greatest strength

Concierges in SA

For visitors to SA, concierges are usually the first point of contact in welcoming our international visitors and therefore play a vital role in building SA’s reputation as a warm and friendly destination. Our local concierges are very knowledgeable on the unique insights of South Africa, and it’s their role in the tourism industry that is vital in helping to secure ongoing hospitality and tourism business for our country.
It is for that reason that the South African Concierges Forum has been created, and annual conferences held in each region. Here Concierges and Guest Relations Managers can network and share ideas and update each other on the latest developments in the industry and the country as a whole.

How to become a concierge

International Hotel School has a number of Hospitality Management Diploma students who have progressed from working at the Front Desk to working as Concierge. Many have honed their skills in top hotels within South Africa and then taken those skills and used them in top hotels and cruise liners around the world.

For those interested in this career, we suggest that you study our DIPLOMA IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT WITH AMERICAN HOTEL & LODGING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE (AHLEI) RECOGNITION PROGRAMME or the Diploma in Hospitality Management Programme.  For more information you can visit our website and fill in your details on an enquiry form and a consultant will be in contact with you to assist you with your study journey.