The Concierge Goes up Against the Latest Technology
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jérome Poret, the head of concierge services at the Plaza Athénée, who skillfully presides each day before the clients of the hotel to respond to their every needs and requests—a true daily challenge for Jérome and his entire team.
1. The Plaza Athénée has just reopened after several months of renovation work. What changes have you introduced in terms of reception and accommodation offerings? How will these allow your profession to evolve?
We wanted a brighter lobby for a concierge team that will remain less confined to the desk. What’s important is being present in the lobby, being present outside for both incoming arrivals and clients on their way out, whom we escort all the way to the door of their vehicle. With the reception, we welcome our clients with a guard of honor that gives you the impression of being a VIP guest at the Plaza Athénée. The forte of the Plaza Athénée is that we are constantly seeking out and investing enormous effort toward innovation. As a result, we continue to evolve, and we refrain from limiting ourselves to a routine. For instance, we have just finished developing a new offer with Maserati for our clients.
(Photo: Concierge desk at the Plaza Athénée)
2. What impact will new technologies have in your profession and in the personalization of the services you offer to the clients of the Plaza Athénée?
In over 90% of cases, the preparations for the stay take place over email. Now we try to seek out our clients’ telephone numbers and email because it’s the simplest way of communicating with them during their stay, when we want to contact them while they’re outdoors.
Our ‘Go Concierge’ interface enables us to send them text messages through a computer. “After you arrive at the airport and take a seat inside the hotel car, our team sends you a welcome message–because the first thing you’ll do is turn on your mobile phone. Our staff is trained to help our guests get connected across all different Android and tablet devices. There is an overwhelming need to remain connected. Our most loyal clients invite us to follow them on various social and professional networks, and soon we can foresee the demands of our guests coming in through these networks rather than through email.”
3. What is the most memorable service you have rendered, and what solution did you find? What is most precious to you about your work?
The story of the lion cubs. This service was particularly memorable because the request concerned two granddaughters of a loyal guest. The client wanted to offer his granddaughters the chance to see small lion cubs at the Plaza Athénée.
Everyone put their heads together to come up with a solution, and afterward, two people were placed in charge of carrying out the command.
We had only 4 hours to find the solution, make sure it was possible, and bring the lion cubs into the hotel. The timing was very tight, but in the end, we succeeded!
We know in advance, every day, with the lobby team—the valet, the porter, the concierge—that we are obliged to respond to endlessly new requests, and we make it a point of responding to each of them with a sense of duty and gravity, without worrying about the price of each client’s stay or wondering whether they have a title or not. Every client who presents himself to our desk is a VIP in our eyes.
(Photo: Boat cruise offered by the concierge team at the Plaza Athénée)
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.