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Mon 1 Jan 2007 09:40 AM

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Your concierge to the rescue

Concierges are the go-to guys and gals of the hospitality sector. Jenifer Zeigler, the senior vice president of global brand management for InterContinental, explains their key job functions

The InterContinental Hotel Jordan hosted the Concierge Academy in November. A programme to help candidates improve their personal guest service, the Concierge Academy is a training scheme for selected InterContinental Hotels' employees from all over the Middle East. The programme lasted for four days, offering candidates the chance to learn advanced skills and techniques to help them with the day-to-day challenge of their job.

The event highlighted the depth of knowledge and breadth of resources concierges rely upon to be able to exceed guest expectations and deliver an enhanced and personalised service to every customer.

Often doubling as culinary critics, private guides and business expediters, concierges are communal consultants of sorts. In today's complex travel environment, their counsel frequently reigns supreme, trumping less personal, technology-based travel advice. Yet the concierge remains perhaps the most under-utilised resource in both the business and leisure travel experience.

Although the concierge's wealth of local knowledge and well-cultivated contacts allows them to assist with any number of requests, from the mundane to the outlandish, a poll of several top concierges reveals that hotel guests may not be making the most of this valuable, problem-solving port of call.

The study, carried out by InterContinental Hotels & Resorts' Global Concierge Advisory Board, in co-operation with the international president of Les Clefs d'Or society, Denis TC O'Brien, sheds light on some of the questions guests never think to ask.

Power failure

Slave to technology and in need of a charge? Many guests don't know that concierges often have a secret stash of iPod, cell phone and laptop computer chargers on hand and available for loan, at no cost.

To the nines

Need help getting ready for a night on the town? Most concierges can tie a bowtie with their eyes closed and can source cufflinks and collar stays in a moment's notice.

Will you marry me?

Planning a marriage proposal? A concierge is an excellent resource for engagement ideas, from selecting a special spot to pop the question, to romantic restaurant reservations and room décor. They can even arrange for a jeweller to drop by.

You've got mail

Have an important package that needs to go out? Talk to the concierge about shipping services and proper postage; postage that works for the country you're in.

Spiritual setbacks

Hunting for a house of worship? Concierges can point guests in the right direction when it comes to spiritual services of all denominations. And being late is no excuse, as all concierges possess a list of local service times.

Globe trekker

Require travel reservations in another city? A concierge's network often spans the length and breadth of the country, making room and transportation bookings outside the city possible with a simple phone call.

InterContinental Hotels Group owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, over 3650 hotels and 540,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world. The Group owns a portfolio of brands including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, and also manages the hotel loyalty programme, Priority Club Rewards, which has more than 28 million members worldwide.

"Hotel guests may not be making the most of this valuable, problem-solving port of call."

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