I came to the hotel industry in distant 1997 and got a job in the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel in Moscow. At that time there were only 2 or 3 five-star hotels in Moscow. I got settled for lowest position, as a doorman, so, I began to explore the entire hotel business from the bottom. I found out where, what and how it works. Later I worked as a messenger, a luggage carrier, and as a result, they noticed some good qualities in me and transferred to the position of a night concierge, where I received a very valuable experience.
After that, I went to work as a concierge at the Sheraton Hotel. I created from scratch concierge services in Barvikha Hotel & Spa hotels, in the Radisson Royal, now called the Radisson Collection Hotel Ukraine, opened the Intercontinental, after which I promised myself to no longer participate in the openings of hotels. Even though it is a very interesting experience, I am already very tired of that.
Finally, I was invited to the wonderful Metropol hotel as a chief concierge, which I am very, very grateful for.
And in conclusion, I can say that many of my friends look surprised when they ask why, having such experience, I still work as a concierge. I can already work as a general manager of small hotels and then move to big hotels.
To these types of questions, I always reply that everyone should do his own work, what he likes, and this is our problem, that there is a lack of professionals in their field. That is, people, and mostly young people, that have worked in several departments for a short period of time, want to become managers, which, in my opinion, is not quite right. That’s just like how I do my job, and do it, most likely well, because people appreciate me and my job.
What conclusion have you come to throughout the time of your career? What are the pros and cons of working as a concierge? What qualities should a person have in order to become a truly good concierge?
There are a lot of advantages in the work of the concierge: first of all, when you go to work, you don’t know what kind of requests the quests will approach you. Of course, there is a certain routine in our work as well, but it is not so monotonous as, for example, in the office. Here, there are often situations when you enter into a kind of “competition” with yourself, whether you manage to do everything right for the guest or not. And when, in the end, it works out, you feel incomparable satisfaction. And probably one of the perks is the uniqueness and difference of the same situations to each other. And as a bonus, every day you learn a lot of new things.
The cons are the flip side of the coin. This is the irregular working day, it is the multifunctionality, the lack of time management capabilities. It may happen that in a short time you may have to do 10 urgent, previously unplanned things, and you will have to answer the phone calls, write letters, and at the same time deal with various requests of the guests. It is a very hard job, but when, in the end, you finish everything, exhale and think that you managed to do everything.
Despite the fact that guests are very different, we love them all, they are all good for us. But sometimes it may happen that a guest is upset about something, and all that bad mood translates onto the concierge. But what can you do, you have to handle it as well. We perceive such situations normally and try to make the guest happy and satisfied.
What would you advise a beginner if he wants to follow in your footsteps and decides to work at a hotel? What professional recommendations can you give to those who are just starting their careers in the field of hospitality?
Unfortunately, they don’t teach the concierge profession here, and, in truth, not every person can learn our profession. Of course, concierges are not born, but it must be a person with certain qualities. First of all, a person should be all-round developed, ideally, know several languages, be able to speak with people from different countries, maintain a conversation on any topic, and these are just the minimal requirements.
Constant self-development is important, that is, being well-informed of everything that happens in the city and the country but not only that; starting with social news, and ending with various exhibitions, concerts, and other events. You must constantly “keep your hand on the pulse” of the city.
The most important quality of a concierge is the desire to help your guests. For the concierge, they are not clients, for him they are guests for whom he will do everything well and correct so that these guests leave happy and satisfied. The concierge should be a smiley, polite, competent and educated person who puts his guests’ wishes above everything and does his best to make them satisfied.
At present, you are also the president of the Russian Association of Golden Keys of Concierges, please tell us more about the organization Les Clefs d’Or and its development in Russia.
Next year it will be our 20 years anniversary, this is, basically not as much. Compared to the international association “Les Clefs d’Or”, we are a relatively young, but, as we were told in the international executive committee, our association is quite strong, and progressing to the right way. Les Clefs d’Or Russia began with several people in Moscow, and now it includes more than 60 people from different countries and cities. Over the past 20 years, we have done a lot, and we will probably celebrate it in a fine way, together with all our friends, fellow concierges, and will strive further to the highest level of service.