Customer service lessons from a hotel concierge

Michael Sadowski, Public Relations Manager at Intrepid (the largest adventure travel company in the world) recently wrote a fascinating article for Forbes magazine. Before his current role in PR, Michael spent several years working as a concierge at a well-known five-star hotel.

Anyone who has worked at a hotel will know that it is as an incredibly customer-centric work environment, perhaps more so than in any other business. So therefore (to state the obvious) working in a hotel gives you a unique insight into how to keep customers happy!

Below is a summary of the five customer service lessons that Michael says he learnt from working as a hotel concierge. Beyond the hotel business, these are incredibly important lessons for everyone that wants to achieve customer service excellence in absolutely any field of business.

1. Never say no without an alternative

It is never okay to tell a hotel guest, “No, I can’t get a dinner reservation because that restaurant is full,” or “I’m sorry, the florist is closed now.” You simply must figure it out. Book them a table at the second best restaurant in the city. Send them a complimentary bottle of wine. Text your florist personally. Whatever you do, don’t say “no.”

2. Always over-deliver

Whenever a hotel guest asked for an anniversary dinner reservation, alarm bells would start firing in my head. At a golden-key concierge desk, a special occasion is like a call to arms to not only deliver the reservation, but also to over-deliver with the best table in the restaurant, a private driver to take them there and a complimentary bottle of champagne upon arrival.

3. Don't expect a 9-to-5 day

In concierge, you learn to get comfortable in an unpredictable environment. Your shift may end at 5pm, but that doesn’t mean the calls stop. A request could easily come in at 4.30pm that takes hours to complete. Customer service doesn’t sleep, and neither does the news cycle.

4. Value brand success over your own

When Elton John arrived in his hotel room, everything he had asked for - including his requested spread of English mustards nearly impossible to find in North America - was right there waiting. These requests can take months to execute, but having that attention to detail and customer service is what keeps those guests coming back.

5. Anticipate people’s needs - don’t wait to be asked

For me, one of life’s little pleasures is becoming a regular at a local haunt. When the barista at my favorite cafe says, “The usual?” I instantly feel like more than just a customer. It’s the same for regular hotel guests on the day their daily routine starts to take care of itself. The ability to anticipate and respond to guests’ needs is what separates 4.5 star hotels from a 5 star hotel.


Michael Sadowski, 'Five Customer Service Lessons PR Professionals Can Learn From a Hotel Concierge', Forbes, September 2016.