What is the most effective way to build a relationship with concierges?
September 20, 2007 4:49 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to make an impression/build a relationship with a concierge?

So i'm told, and have observed, that concierges seem to be some of the best relationships you can develop in any city, including your own, as far as connections. If you're staying at a hotel or about to, relationships can be built with them that in some cases prove really valuable. I've been considering developing some relationships with concierges in the cities in which I travel, but I don't always stay at good hotels. So if I have only a short time in which to make a memorable impression with a concierge, what is the best way to do it? Obviously tipping helps, obviously good concierges remember frequent guests, but if i'm not a frequent guest, what should I do?
posted by arimathea to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Treat them like human beings instead of as a service. The oft-cited How to Win Friends and Influence People deals with exactly cases like these.
posted by vacapinta at 4:54 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

"...Obviously tipping helps ..."

Not to put too find a point on it, but big tips help more. Big enough tips are sometimes entirely sufficient.
posted by paulsc at 5:10 PM on September 20, 2007

I do not speak from experience. But this is what I imagine.

The whole concierge/patron relationship exists for the sole purpose of favor exchange. Except, of course, they aren't from-the-goodness-of-your-heart favors. It's about mutual benefit.

If you don't frequent the hotel, I'd think that if you do something big and memorable, you might just get noticed/remembered. So, either a ridiculous tip, or ... might a concierge benefit from things like big sporting event tickets? Even if he doesn't want them, he could use them for another guest (and in return receive a big tip).

I'm short on examples, but I think it *has* to come down to what you can give them. I also agree with vacapinta; you can't throw them a grand and then spit on them. Be very memorable in personality as well as in offerings. (Otherwise they'll remember the gift but not the person, which does nothing for you.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:22 PM on September 20, 2007

Seconding vacapinta. I'm not a concierge, and haven't even dealt with them, but I did work in customer service for longer than I'd liked to have (which was about 1 day).

99% of people are going to treat them as part of the business, not as a human being. If people are unhappy, it'll get taken out on them. And even if they're unhappy, people aren't going to treat them as if they were a human.

You'll join that memorable 1% if you learn their name and treat them as a human. Some consider How to Win Friends & Influence People too artificial (although I think they're just not interpreting it well enough), but merely being civil puts you into a minority. And if you actually get to know them personally, you'll probably be their favorite person.
posted by fogster at 5:30 PM on September 20, 2007

I learn their names, I look them in the eyes and smile, I ask them general (not too personal) questions about their lives, and I tip them after every conversation whether they've done something for me or not.

Not huge tips for this, nothing flashy, just a token of my appreciation that they exist and provide a service. Then when I do need something, they remember me and are even more so helpful.
posted by astruc at 5:54 PM on September 20, 2007


it's crass, but true, and of course be personable and not an asshole, but money talks. realistically, most of them are losers and can't do much for you, but the right ones will put you in box seats two rows back from first base in Yankee stadium when the Red Sox are in town, late in the season. You will give them your first born child for this privilege though, as they had to give theirs to the scalper to get this for you. wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
posted by caddis at 6:51 PM on September 20, 2007

I tip and I treat them with respect. But, the thing I find the most helpful in getting them to remember me and go the extra mile is to give them feedback after whatever they did for me is over. It they recommended a restaurant and got me a reservation, on the way back in I tell them how much I enjoyed the evening. I might even try to give them a suggestion along the lines of, "That was a great restaurant. If you have a guest who has been there and is looking for something similar you might consider sending him to restaurant X. Last time I was in this city I went and it was also great." When they send me to another service provider such as a tailor I am sure to tell that provider that the concierge (insert name) at the Four Seasons sent me. He speaks highly of your service. Often he will then get a call from the service provider and even some credit for the next time he needs that service personally.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:39 PM on September 20, 2007

I've worked in high-end hotels and I know a lot of concierges- we bitch about bad guests together. I think what everyone else is saying is right- treating them like people, and tipping them for what they do for you, is really the best way. You don't have to be a regular guest, or a high-roller, just let them know you appreciate what they are doing for you. And be reasonable with your requests- if you ask for the impossible on too short notice and then get upset about it, it won't endear you very much.
posted by Oobidaius at 10:13 PM on September 20, 2007

I'm not a concierge, but I drive a cab, which is sorta more similiar than different.

I agree with what everyone's saying in this thread in theory, but you have to be so careful about pulling it off right and seeming sincere that I'm almost inclined to say that this needs to be an innate characteristic of yours and not something that can be learned. Giving off the scent of insincere "chumminess" is way worse than just acting like an ass.

For example, the whole "learn their name" bit is fine generic advice. What that usually translates into, though, is some dude who thinks he's Tom Waits jumping into my backseat and, before he even tells me where he's going, delivers the dreaded "Hey, cabbie, what's your name, bro?"

He's not interested in my name so much as giving off the impression that he's a cool, personable, down-with-the-working-classes homeboy who doesn't see this as a "cab ride" so much as the beginning of an odd-couple friendship or the start of an anecdote about "this crazy cabbie I had in New Orleans" that he can tell the other senior web developers about when he gets back home.

This drives me (and every cabbie, concierge, and bartender I know) bonkers, because it actually works against their goal: instead of coming off as being interested in me as a person they'll be sharing a short ride with, they're very transparently attempting to appear friendly and charming to set up a relationship that can be exploited.

So, I almost always answer with "Name's Ian nice to meet you where are we going?"

It's entirely different though, if, after making small-talk for a few minutes, my fare introduces himself: "My name's John" or whatever.

That universally gets returned with "Hey, nice to meet you, John. My name's Ian. What brings you down to New Orleans...did you lose a bet?"

As for the tipping thing...yeah, absolutely tip an amount commiserate with the amount of work performed. But for the love of God don't make a big deal out of it. The only thing I hate more than the immediate "What's your name?" is when my fare explains in advance that this is going to be a difficult or long trip, but "I'm gonna give you a big tip, bro!"

It's crass, and again, it has the opposite effect than intended: it tells me that my fare thinks so little of me that a big tip--no, the *promise* of a big tip--will convince me to put up with all sorts of obnoxious behavior and may even get me to do something illegal, like jam eight of his drunk friends in my cab.

Yeah, we're in a service relationship--I'm performing a service for you in exchange for compensation--but you don't have to make me feel like a whore. Besides, even though this is my job, I'm not strictly doing it just for the money. A lot of cabbies (and every single concierge I know) love our jobs and enjoy being good at what we do, and being appreciated for it is way better than getting an extra ten bucks thrown at us.

(Besides, concierges and cabbies would make a healthy living even if we were never tipped at all.)

Finally, excessive tipping has always struck me as slightly distasteful. A healthy tip is fine, especially if I went above and beyond for them, but an over-the-top display of wealth is sorta tacky and makes me feel like the tipper didn't have a very good upbringing. Don't get me wrong, I don't throw the money away, but it sure doesn't make me interested in having the sort of relationship you want to have with your concierges.

The tipping discussion could go on forever--see all those terrible websites with "rants" from hateful sevice industry types about how much they can't stand their customers--but it really comes down this: if your tip is in lieu of being a cool dude who doesn't treat me like a serf, then just keep your money. But if your tip is merely the financial manisfestation of how much you genuinely appreciated my service, then that's a different story.

This comment has grown excessively long, but really it can be summed up with what a lot of other people are saying: treat us like we're people, not a resource to be exploited. (But don't force it, because that's way worse.) If you can't do that, at the very least treat us like professionals.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:17 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

my boyfriend had money and didn't know what to do with it besides give it away, and since he felt a large affinity to waitstaff and other restaurant workers, that regularly computers to 100-300 dollar tips on tabs that could range anywhere from 10 bucks to 100 bucks. He didn't do it to garner favor and probably never noticed that we received any special treatment at the establishments we frequented but believe me we did. Much more attentive wait staff, free drinks, good seating (even had a waiter once explain to other waiting diners that we had reservations when the place didn't actually take reservations, just because we showed up.) I frequently felt bad (in that good sort of way hahaha). The fact is, he never acted like he was seeking any special favors and was extremely polite etc, and very very subdued about the tipping also, never seeking acknowledgement or anything. He learned people's names and it all worked out! So. Maybe there's something useful here.
posted by Soulbee at 10:42 AM on September 21, 2007

« Older Gimme brakes   |   background checks Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.