January 12, 2017
What does it mean to be a professional concierge? What skills are required, what unusual requests do professionals tend to get and what the best part to helping people is? Learn everything in our article created for you together with international concierges: Ben Malpass, UK and Fatima Oladosu, Nigeria.
We asked them to answer our questions about travel concierge industry and share their insights about life of a professional concierge.
Ben Malpass, an award-winning member of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or with more than 20 years’ concierge industry experience. Ben took on the Head Concierge role at Hilton Sydney at the impressively young age of 23. He has achieved amazing 95% plus in Guest Satisfaction Surveys in consecutive years and continues to contribute heavily to the success of The Hari, London (previously Belgraves) where he is Head Concierge today.
How and why did you choose personal concierge industry?
I started off as Page Boy at the Hilton Sydney back in 1994. The idea was to work for a year before taking a year off to travel.
What does it take to be a top hotel concierge as you are? What is needed to beсome one?
A top hotel concierge must be groomed impeccably and be well connected. Presence and charisma is key while remaining composed while dealing with many stressful situations simultaneously.
What personal concierge services are in demand at your hotel most of all? What are the most difficult tasks in work of a hotel concierge?
Impossible tables at restaurants, tickets for sold out shows & events, limousines and general London advice. Each day brings new challenges and every day is different to the next. Some unusual concierge requests have been:
- I have arranged for a cinema to play a 1990’s action movie at 4am,
- Arranged for a driver to take a guest from London to Stockholm (remember the ash cloud??)
- Arranged a private jet to Halifax,
- Bought a handbag for £100K,
- Saved a few marriages,
- Sourced a roman legionnaires helmet and sent it to the Cayman’s so the guest could have it in his office,
- Arranged a recording session at Abbey Road Studios (The Beatles old studio)
- Booked out Michelin starred entire restaurants as private hire,
The list goes on.
Have you noticed any changes in the personal concierge service sphere that occurred during the time you are involved in it?
The Concierge professional has changed enormously in the 20 years. The birth of the Internet and the Google age means our guests are much more informed and knowledgeable about their destination than ever before. Concierge need to be more in tune with their city then ever before to ensure guests are satisfied. A good concierge cannot be replaced by a computer, as we are friends, confidants, advisers & ambassadors to our guests. Well traveled guests tend to rely heavily on their hotel concierge which has remained the constant trend over the years.
We saw on your profile that you provided concierge services to royalties and celebrities. Who are the most interesting or impressive people you’ve worked it?
I have personally looked after British and foreign Royalty, as well as some of the most famous faces on the planet. With the job comes a responsibility of complete discretion (so I won’t tell you). A Hotel Concierge sees everything and says nothing….
We also interviewed Fatima Oladosu who is an entrepreneur and runs her own concierge service business in Lagos, Nigeria.
Why did you decide to become a travel concierge?
I am very passionate about service and assisting the people that come my way. From early childhood to my professional career life, I have always served in one way or the other, and I find fulfillment in being the reliable one. It is, therefore, no surprise that when the time came for me to start my own business, it had to be about service.
What do you usually do as a concierge? What are some common requests you receive from your clients?
Well, my version of a personal concierge service varies slightly from the usual concierge service. I think the environment determines the need. My motto is “No task is too ordinary or too extraordinary I do mundane, and I do complicated as long as it is ethical and legal I am here to serve you.”
As such, the errand varies, and that’s one of the most exciting aspects of my job. I have project managed the renovations of a building, shopped for clients, incorporated companies on behalf of my customers, accompanied a teenager on a trip and a hospital visit, visited the elderly parents of some clients who are not in Nigeria, set up meetings for an international firm with banks in Nigeria…The list is endless.
What are the top 3 most extraordinary/unusual concierge service requests you ever received?
Well, for me the most extraordinary will be the accompanied service. I took their daughter on a trip to the federal capital territory Abuja. That I think is the greatest treasure anyone can entrust with me.
Is Nigeria a popular tourist hub?
No, Nigeria isn’t a famous tourist center. However, we are working on creating awareness on tourism in Nigeria.
What are usually tourists coming to Nigeria interested in?
With the present state of the tourism industry in Nigeria, visitors are mostly interested in:
- The history of slavery
- The entertainment industry (various shows and events held at different times of the year), e.g., The Calabar Festival, The Lagos Countdown, Osun Oshogo Festival, Argungun Festival, Black Heritage Festival, etc.
- They are also interested in the cultural heritage of Nigeria (the Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo culture), the Lagos Nightlife, discovering the culinary experience and Purchasing made in Nigeria attires, paintings, and artwork
What are they looking for when they travel to Nigeria?
Fun, Enlightenment, and Relaxation.
At MeetnGreetMe we would like to thank Ben and Fatima for their amazing answers and professional insights about concierge service they kindly shared with us and you too. Going to London or Lagos, remember what amazing MeetnGreeters you got there ;)