*Quick Side Note: Being as my Blog is completely public, all names and companies are going to the kept confidential. I may be a very open person, however I think it’s important for me to respect the privacy and integrity of the companies and individuals I am working for.*
So this is a question that I’ve been getting asked a lot lately. What does it mean to be a Hotel Concierge?
That was a question I recently wondered myself. If you’ve read my post I QUIT MY JOB! then you may already know a little bit about my career background.
I’d been curious about the role of a Concierge for as long as I can remember. I never really pursued it though, because I was, and am a suburban girl TO THE CORE and never thought I’d enjoy working in the city (1. the long commute and all the 9-5 “zombies” 2. I’m weird around big groups of people- makes me so claustrophobic) . If I’m being honest, I was also completely intimidated by the idea. For those who aren’t too familiar with the Concierge role, they only employ in large cities, such as Toronto.
After months of struggling with my Food & Beverage Supervisor role, I revisited the idea of working as a Hotel Concierge. Trusting my gut, I reached out on LinkedIn by just asking a few basic questions, and ended up getting in touch with a woman who has become my mentor and has significantly changed my life in the past few months. I now work for her part-time as a Residential Concierge. I am so inspired by her on a daily basis, and she is the one who got me in touch with the Hiring Manager at the luxury hotel property I am very newly working for in Toronto.
I would like to write a post in the future about landing the job you want, but for now, I will just say this. DON’T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT TO PEOPLE THAT INSPIRE YOU! I can’t stress this enough. Almost every single time I’ve reached out to a professional in my industry, the results come back tenfold.
So, long story short, I landed the Hotel Concierge position at a luxury property in Toronto. In my interview, I was completely honest and open with them about having another part-time job, and about my lack of city knowledge. They were okay with this, and ensured me that they could train me on getting to know the city.
I have now been there for two weeks and would love to share with you guys how it’s been going so far, what I’m learning, and what the job is ALL ABOUT.
Day one of my new job, I was a mess. I was so much more nervous than I thought I would be. I decided to drive in on my first day, as I haven’t taken the train in a few years. I took the Gardiner into the city, and in total it took me just under 2 hours (keep in mind, I was starting at 9 AM, so I was right in rush hour traffic). Three coffees and a lot of nerves later, I had a panic attack on the highway. This is a whole topic in itself, but unfortunately this is something that I deal with from time to time. I noticed the signs immediately (hands going numb, hot flashing, wave of nausea, shaking, heart rate, etc.) and pulled off the highway. I calmed down, and then continued on my way. When I got there, I parked in our Staff Valet which I learned is $17 a day (Not too bad, considering the round-trip fare for the GoTrain is $19.) Once I got there, I was fine, as I always am. The anticipation is always the hard part for me. I spent the rest of the day getting all of the admin tasks done, such as setting up my e-mail, getting my locker, and getting fitted for a uniform (which is pretty cute- skirt and jacket). Day one is a success!
The second two days, I decided to try taking the train in so I could avoid rush hour (both days I started at 9 AM). I did, and it was so much more relaxing. No panic attack, and I enjoyed reading my book on the train instead. Win-win! The days went very smoothly. The staff are all wonderful. I work with ALL MEN (Concierges, Door Men, Bell Men, Valet) which I really like. NO drama. They were all so helpful and welcoming from the beginning, so I feel really grateful for that. I spent the rest of the week shadowing and learning the ropes. I found that learning the systems they use to track requests were actually quite straightforward. No problems there. I learned about some of the top restaurants in the area, shows, tours, etc. I took home my notebook and made notes at night listing out closest grocery stores, closest gas stations, restaurants, attractions, etc. My new boss said one thing to me that really stood out: “You will get out of this job what you put into it.” SO TRUE. It is up to ME as a new Concierge, to educate myself about the city, and I know that this is definitely going to be my biggest challenge with the role. Commuting wise, here are some major lessons I learned over my first week:
- DO NOT WEAR HEELS TO WORK- I’m crazy and thought I’d be fine walking from Union Station, standing for 8 hours during my shift, and walking back to Union in HEELS. I’m insane. Please learn from my mistakes! I was a complete bitch the first week when I was at home, because my feet felt like they literally had a heartbeat. Needless to say, week two, I wore my Birkenstocks into work, and then bought a comfortable, and LOW pair of heels to wear during my shift. SO MUCH BETTER.
- BRING A BACKPACK- I was carrying all of my things, including my shoes, in little purses and bags. NO. Bad idea. Week two, I carried all of my essentials in my cute pastel pink, sparkly, backpack and carried my ONE PURSE in hand.
- COMMUTING OPTIONS DEPENDING ON THE SHIFT- I experimented, and decided that the way I commute into Toronto completely depends on the shift I am working. If I work starting at 9 AM or earlier, I take the train in. If I work 10 AM or later, I’m fine to drive in (usually takes just over an hour).
- LEAVE YOURSELF EXTRA TIME– In this property, it is like a god damn maze. It takes me about 10 minutes to just get from the employee entrance down to the change rooms. This being said, GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME. I try to be at work at least a half hour early, so that I can get myself organized and am not stressing about time (I was late on my first two days- WINNER.)
- MEAL PREP- They have a staff cafeteria at this property, which is awesome. My lunches are all set. For breakfast though, I like to make some breakfast sandwiches at least 3 days in advance and keep them in the fridge. Then in the morning, all I have to do is heat it up and go. Saves lots of time and effort in the morning.
Week two of the job went a bit more smoothly than the first. I started to feel more comfortable with my commute, with the team, and with daily tasks. I spent week two shadowing my colleagues and soaking in everything they said. On my last shift of week two, I booked my first VIP Private Tour to Niagara Falls by myself, so that was exciting- YAY! The guests at this property are mostly tourists (probably because it’s summer), but we also have some local regulars who stay with us. The Chef Concierge at the property also took me on a tour of the surrounding area and the PATH, which was so intimidating and HUGE. It was really nice of him though to show me around. It was great for me to also see the Restaurants we normally recommend. Some of them include: Harbour Sixty, Lbs., Richmond Station, Alo & Aloette, Canoe, The Chase, and Jacobs & Co. (I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THEM ALL… THE ONES I CAN AFFORD ANYWAY, HAHA.)
Concierges are typically asked the following questions (from what I have seen so far):
- “Where should I go to eat? Can you make me reservations?”
- “What should I do today? Can you recommend any attractions nearby?”
- “I’d like to do a tour. Can you help me arrange something?”
- “Can you arrange transportation for me?” (Often rental cars or town cars to airport, etc.)
All in all, I have A LONG WAY TO GO in this role, and A LOT to learn about the city, but I am truly enjoying the new challenge and can’t wait to see what the future holds. I’m always more than happy to speak with you regarding this role further. If you are someone who loves working with people, and are willing to do whatever it takes to make your guests wishes and dreams a reality, then this could be the right job for you as well.
Over the next few weeks, I’m planning to explore the PATH a bit more, try out some of the restaurants we recommend, and do a Hop-On/Off Tour in Toronto. I feel like being a Tourist in your own city is the most effective way to learn.
I hope this post gave you some insight, and I can’t wait to talk to you soon.
*UPDATE: I am officially finished week 3! Traffic is a real problem as it is so unpredictable. Today I left at 8 AM (for my 10 AM shift) and got to work with only a minute to spare. Moving forward, I think GoTrain is the best option anytime before 10 AM.