Why would the modern traveller bother to consult the concierge instead of performing a Google search or looking on a resourceful travel website like TripAdvisor or Yelp? Thinking broader, is the concierge becoming obsolete in the face of everything that the internet has to offer?
No, or at least this operation doesn’t have to be decommissioned if you adapt it correctly by giving it a technological boost and by expanding its purview to include even more of a personal touch.
The adage that applies here is, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Most arriving guests don’t even think to ask the concierge because they haven’t been educated to know that it’s an option. Hence, your first challenge is to find ways to better inform your customers about the bastion of knowledge that is your concierge team.
As a start, any PMS can be engineered to send out a pre-arrival email or to ping a manager to give a pre-arrival phone call. Why not route these tasks to the concierge desk? In this sense, a member of the concierge team can be assigned to each guest and a tailored note can then be attached with that team member’s picture to the pre-arrival email. That way guests know who these individuals are, and it will help to establish a personal connection.
Additionally, your concierge team should be available via text. While I would always recommend calling over texting for proper rapport building, the latter is far more in line with how the world works nowadays. Obviously, there are some logistical issues with implementing a text-based system, but regardless of these, any traveler would greatly appreciate having a local insider only a few presses of the thumb away.
The next point of contact is when the guest first arrives. If you know roughly when that’s happening, it wouldn’t be too hard to arrange for a concierge to be present at the front desk for an in-person greeting. Alternatively, a front-office protocol could be put in place whereby the designated team member is immediately notified by the corresponding front desk clerk who might also set up a time for a quick face-to-face introduction.
A third point of contact where the concierge can make his or her mark pertains to welcome or departure gifts. Although slightly less applicable because of the small cost involved, for high-end hotels these are becoming all but mandatory. For welcome gifts, normally these are left in the room with a handwritten note from a manager. Instead, why not have the assigned concierge deliver them to the door a short time after the guest has settled in. This ‘surprise-and-delight’ tactic might also spark a fun conversation whereby the hotel can learn a bit more about what’s needed or wanted for this specific trip, and then make any necessary arrangements. And, if departure gifts are given out, consider having the concierge present it along with the corresponding front-desk clerk.