What I learned as a Concierge at New York’s Most Prestigious Hotel (and How it Applies to B2B Service Excellence)

November 8, 2023

By Amy Below

Amy was born in Newport Beach, California, and spent her youth between California and New York, where she received her Master’s degree from Columbia University. At CONTENTI Amy applies her writing, editorial and organizational talents to a wide range of projects and clients. Her keen analytical skills are invaluable in understanding and expressing clients’ complex scientific and technical subjects.

Key Takeaways

  • My brief: Make the impos­si­ble possible.
  • Never over­promise and never break a promise.
  • Be a mind reader (but ask lots of questions).
  • Meet and exceed every client’s expec­ta­tions.
  • Build client rela­tion­ships that last.

In a previous life, while I was putting myself through grad school in New York, I landed a job as a Concierge at the exclusive Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street in Manhattan. In the rarefied air of that demanding customer service envi­ron­ment, I learned a lot about service excel­lence.

The world’s most famous and wealth­i­est (and demanding) people came through our doors

For those unfa­mil­iar with the role of a concierge at a 5‑star hotel, our job is to make sure that the hotel’s pres­ti­gious guests get the best quality care the hotel—and the city—has to offer, and that they finish their stay feeling that the hotel once again exceeded their expec­ta­tions (which were already extremely high!). If a guest wanted a table at an exclusive restau­rant on short notice, it was up to me to use my con­nec­tions not just to book a table, but to book the best table in the house. Or, if a guest wanted tickets that evening to a sold-out Broadway show, I had to find a way to get them front-row center seats, or darn near close to it. My job descrip­tion was essen­tial­ly to make the impos­si­ble possible. To com­pli­cate matters, many of our guests were extremely famous and/or wealthy and used to getting what they wanted, when they wanted it.

Delivering on the promise

Sometimes things really weren’t possible. Not every restau­rant was able (or willing) to add a table at the last minute, no matter who the guest might be. Telling a guest something wasn’t possible was never an easy task and required a great deal of diplomacy. It meant providing alter­na­tives that might delight the guest as much as or even more so than the original ask. That’s when mind reading, con­nec­tions all around town, and a good under­stand­ing of what a guest liked — and didn’t like — really came in handy.

The over­whelm­ing majority of our guests were absolute­ly lovely, including many very famous people. As for the others… well we’ll just leave it there (I could write a book, but that’s not what concierges do!).

Fast forward to the present

I was wondering if the skills I learned while at the Four Seasons Hotel would transfer to my daily work at CONTENTI (let’s be very clear, all of our customers are in the ‘absolute­ly lovely’ category!). Here are my thoughts:

Make the impos­si­ble possible 

Yes, but only when it’s possible! Rather than catering to last-minute changes, I try to make the impos­si­ble possible through antic­i­pa­tion, planning and out­stand­ing execution.

Say no when it isn’t possible

This is extremely important. And it’s reflected in how I put together a project timeline. No detail is left out. Of course, there can be pressure to cut corners. I use my expe­ri­ence to propose realistic project plans, steering the whole team towards a suc­cess­ful outcome.

Be a mind reader

Definitely. Understanding what a client wants is crucial. I trust my mind-reading abilities and use them (when needed) to ensure that all asks are made explicit, agreed upon and met!

Be a diplomat

Very important. Many projects require that I come into contact with different stake­hold­ers, sometimes with varying per­spec­tives or goals. It takes under­stand­ing and diplomacy to help diverse voices achieve great outcomes.

Make every client feel we have met and exceeded their expec­ta­tions

That’s always the goal! I work hard to ensure that those expec­ta­tions are captured, so we can make a plan that meets them.

Keep clients coming back

Definitely! I aim to provide every client with 5‑star service so that together we can continue creating out­stand­ing and effective B2B content and com­mu­ni­ca­tions! Client rela­tion­ships that last turn into long-term com­mu­ni­ca­tions part­ner­ships.

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