Concierge

Concierge

[kon-see-airzh; Fr. kawn-syerzh]
A concierge (kɔ̃sjɛʁʒ) (French) is an employee who lives on the premises of apartment buildings and serves as a general property caretaker; while the phenomenon and the term are most common in France, they can be seen elsewhere, for example in the French-influenced neighborhood of Heliopolis in Cairo, Egypt. A similar position, known as the portera, exists in Spanish-speaking regions. In medieval times, the concierge was an officer of the King who was charged with executing justice, with the help of his bailiffs. The term concierge evolved from the French Comte Des Cierges, The Keeper of the Candles, who tended to visiting nobles in castles of the medieval era.

In 19th century and early 20th century apartment buildings, particularly in Paris, the concierge often had a small apartment on the ground floor and was able to monitor all comings and goings. However, such settings are now extremely rare; most concierges in small or middle-sized buildings have been replaced by the part-time services of door-staff. These are less costly and less intrusive. Some larger apartment buildings or groups of buildings retain the use of a concierge. The concierge may, for instance, keep the mail of absented dwellers; be entrusted with the keys of apartments in cases of emergencies in the absence of the inhabitant; and perform other tasks.

In hotels, a concierge assists guests with various tasks like making restaurant reservations, arranging for spa services, recommending nightclubs, procurement of tickets to special events and assisting with various travel arrangements and tours of interesting places to visit. In upscale establishments, a concierge is often expected to "achieve the impossible", dealing with any request a guest may have, no matter how strange, relying on an extensive list of personal contacts with various local merchants and service providers.

Hotel concierge staff have their own professional association, called Les Clefs d'Or ("The Golden Keys"). It was formed in France in October 1929. It now reaches over 3000 members in over 50 countries. Members can be distinguished by the gold keys they display on their lapels.

In hospitals, concierge services are becoming more and more available. A concierge in hospital will provide similar services to those of a concierge in a hotel, however rather than just serving a guest, they are serving patients and employees as well. This adds a huge benefit to the employees of hospitals who work long shifts, and helps to provide work-life balance.

This day and age more and more people are using a personal concierge to “buy back” their precious time. A personal concierge works on the most basic of premise: people want things done and just don't have the time to do them.

Today there are numerous independently owned and operated concierge companies. Many of these companies provide errand services, as well as informational services for their members. Services include informational requests, setting dinner reservations, making telephone calls, researching travel arrangements and more. Typically, concierge companies will bill on an hourly rate, and depending upon the type of task at hand fees can fluctuate drastically. Other companies have reinvented the business model by billing a flat monthly fee based upon the number of requests a member is allowed to place each month. The number of independently owned concierge companies has skyrocketed as the start up costs and barriers of entry are quite feasible for many entrepreneurs. Concierges also entertain their clients.

The owners and operators of concierge and errand service businesses are supported and advocated by the non-profit International Concierge and Errand Association and the National Concierge Association. These associations serve their members through essential resources, continuing education, networking opportunities and other professional endeavors.

References

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