I have been working in the luxury hotel business for a number of years; in fact for most of my life I have been someway involved in providing people with exemplary service for their stays. I must admit however that it is getting harder the longer I am in the business. It seems that people's demands are getting more and more extreme.
A few years ago I did not mind going out and picking up bunches of flowers for guests or providing a glass of champagne in the room freshly poured and perfectly chilled. The luxury hotel industry recently however seems to be attracting a rather resentful element who demand things at all hours, or maybe it is just me and it is about time I moved on and found work where answering people's whims is not the main objective. I just do not have the patience anymore.
When I landed my first job in a luxury hotel the tips were out of this world, if you got to know regular customers and did that little extra for them tips of forty, fifty and even sixty pounds were not uncommon. It was the price that regulars who understood the lengths you as a luxury hotel concierge would go to, were willing to pay.
Now it is the case that with so many picking up cheap internet deals on a weekend getaway the clientele has changed beyond recognition. Now I do not have a problem with this, I would happily welcome people of all classes into my luxury hotel, however the level of respect and expectation of guests who are not used to luxury hotel services shows not only in how they treat staff but also in how much they tip.
Maybe the era of providing a dedicated service to guests is over. Granted there will always be small sections who are used to staying in luxury hotels and who don't mind paying full whack for the privilege. With an influx of reduced rate, weekend getaway guests however; standards of service will undoubtedly slip.
The reason for this is simple; luxury hotel staff will see that some guests are paying less and so will not strive to provide a service that it is worth its definition of luxury. A luxury hotel is deemed as such not purely through the opulence of its rooms and lobby but through the commitment of its staff to providing unsurpassed service. It can be judged that guests stays are often rated 'eighty to twenty', eighty being the service encountered during their stay and twenty being the physical surroundings of the hotel itself.
Such is the hotel trade in the last decade, when I began in the luxury hotel industry guests would mostly be there for a week, staying for a week whilst dining with friends and taking advantage of the locality. Now people have less time in their hectic schedules and often a weekend getaway is all they can find time for. The sad thing about this is that the personal touch has gone, it is no longer possible to get to know your guests and subsequently the job has lost much of its interest for me.
Having worked in luxury hotels from London to New York I have met some amazing people and got to know some well respected sportsmen, businessmen and politicians. I am not saying that these sections of society no longer have a use for a good luxury hotel but with so many now lacking the personal touch it is harder to build relationships with clients.
With so many tabloids using hotel staff as sources for stories, high profile guests would far prefer to not involve you in their weekend getaway, especially when their wives have been left at home. As a trusted concierge I would never break my guest's confidentiality but there are many in the trade with far less scruples. My advice is to always tip well, then any secrets will stay that way.
My years of providing exemplary service for my guests may well soon be over, but maybe I am seeing the past through rose tinted spectacles. Concierges used to be present in most luxury hotels, now it is just the elite who bother to employ a dedicated concierge service. Seemingly this is a depressing response to the advent of internet deals and the cheap weekend getaway.