Hotels offer offbeat concierge services to build customer loyalty

Crayfish Concierge at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans.

Source: Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

Pantelis Evangelou is director of guest services at the London Marriott Park Lane, but for younger guests he is perhaps best known as the hotel’s teddy bear butler.

The hotel offers a teddy bear-themed concierge service for children that is included with suite reservations or available as an option for approximately $ 50. After a child chooses an option from the hotel’s 11-themed bear menu, Evangelou arrives at the door with a stuffed animal ready to be adopted.

“It’s my job to do the introductions, which means I need to know the names and stories behind each bear, as well as their unique characteristics,” he said, noting that the bears available will go. airline pilots in traditional London. Beefeaters, the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London.

The hotel concierge has traditionally been the go-to go-to for guests seeking insider knowledge of a city and access to coveted theater tickets or dinner reservations. But now travelers can get tips and recommendations on restaurants and attractions in a new city from their smartphones.

So rather than abandoning concierge altogether, “hotels are now training their concierges to deliver new, personalized, high-value and exclusive services to delight and keep their guests coming back,” said Chekitan Dev, professor at Cornell. University’s School of Hotel. Administration.

Teddy Bear Partnership with Hamleys and London Marriott Hotel Park Lane.

Source: Wonderhatch

This trend comes at a time when hotels face increasing competition from the accommodation sharing industry with Expedia Group’s Airbnb and Vrbo. Providing niche services is an inexpensive way to stand out with the customer and also generate additional income. Services can be free or cost customers up to a few hundred dollars.

Travelers booking hotel stays will now find concierge and butler services available for everything from pet care and choosing a cannabis experience to the use of the in-room fireplace.

As an example, Dev cites his stay at the Benjamin in New York, where the sleep concierge helped him get a good night’s sleep by providing him with special pillows to relieve back pain, a humidifier to counteract the pain. dry air and a white noise machine.

Many other hotels offer organized services that are just as hyper concentrated and offbeat. The Westin Los Angeles Airport Surf Concierge gives surf lessons, while a Crayfish Concierge offers peeling assistance at events at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans.

In Canada, the Westin Ottawa skate concierge runs free guided skate tours along sections of the Rideau Canal rink, while the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Jack of Fish makes sure the valuable catch is properly. stored in a special freezer on site during stopovers.

“Specialized concierge services are not new,” says hospitality industry analyst Bjorn Hanson, “But over the past three or four years, the trend has been for the number of categories to increase, to l An increase in the number of hotels and resorts offering these services and an increased sophistication in the way services are provided.

The trend is also for these services to be labeled as “concierge” even though they cannot be provided by a certified concierge.

“I have no idea what a cannabis janitor or a fish janitor might do because we don’t see that in our organization,” said Sara-ann Kasner, CEO and founder of the National Concierge Association, a group commercial of the industry. “But I can tell you that using the title of concierge is a smart business decision, because people really believe that janitors have the inside scoop on everything.”

Raffles Hotels & Resorts in Paris, Istanbul, Warsaw and Jakarta have art concierges on staff who organize free tours of the hotels museum-quality art collections.

And as curator of curiosity at Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa in Colorado, Zebulon Miracle offers history and geology tours, including dinosaur trail excursions, for $ 35 to $ 250 per person.

“There are so many beautiful stories and fascinating science in Canyon Country,” Miracle said. “If my team does their job properly, guests will not only leave knowing more about the area, but will also be inspired to become curious about their own home.”

Zebulon Miracle, curator of curiosity at Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa

Source: Curiosity at Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa

In some cases, hotels partner with other companies to provide personalized services services. In Portland, Oregon, Provenance Hotels are teaming up with a florist to organize a menu of plants on loan to the room at his Woodlark hotel. At his Dossier property, a partnership with a local retailer allows an Adventure Valet to outfit customers with free loaner backpacks containing hiking poles, headlamps, waterproof phone cases and other items. useful hiking trails.

“Naturally with all new hotels we want to offer something new to capture the attention of guests,” said Kate Buska, vice president of brand development and communications for Provenance Hotels. “But we’re not chasing the shock and fear of things like the ‘Walk of Shame’ kit in the honor bar. It’s about service, about experiences, and about giving customers things they can actually use. “

Whether they hire or partner with a specialist concierge, butler or on-site curator, “more and more hoteliers are finally realizing that they are able to create exceptional unique experiences tailored to the specific interests of their guests. “said Robert Cole of the Global Travel Research Company. Phocuswright. “And those experiences are what drives customer satisfaction, return stays, referrals to friends, and long-term loyalty.”

Sometimes the payoff is easier.

“One of my favorite memories is of a young guest who was so over the moon with her new princess bear that she ran to give me a big hug before I left,” said Evangelou, the bear butler in plush at the London Marriott. “One can only imagine the beautiful adventures that the young guests will experience together” with their bears.

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