is an employee who either works in shifts within, or lives on the premises of an apartment building or a hotel and serves guests with duties similar to those of a butler
A butler is a domestic worker in a large household. In great houses, the household is sometimes divided into departments with the butler in charge of the dining room, wine cellar, and pantry. Some also have charge of the entire parlour floor, and housekeepers caring for the entire house and its...
. The position can also be maintained by a security officer over the 'graveyard' shift. A similar position, known as the portero
, exists in Spanish-speaking regions. The term "concierge" evolved from the French Comte Des Cierges
, The Keeper of the Candles, who tended to visiting nobles in castles of the medieval era. In medieval times
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...
, the concierge was an officer of the King who was charged with executing justice, with the help of his bailiff
A bailiff is a governor or custodian ; a legal officer to whom some degree of authority, care or jurisdiction is committed...
In 19th century and early 20th century apartment buildings, particularly in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...
, the concierge often had a small apartment on the ground floor, called la loge
, and was able to monitor all comings and goings. However, such settings are now extremely rare; most concierges in small or middle-sized buildings have been replaced by the part-time services of door-staff
A doorman is an individual hired to provide courtesy and security services at a residential building or hotel. They are particularly common in urban luxury highrises. At a residential building, a doorman is responsible for opening doors and screening visitors and deliveries...
. Some larger apartment buildings or groups of buildings retain the use of a concierge. The concierge may, for instance, keep the mail of absented dwellers; be entrusted with the apartment keys to deal with emergencies when residents are absent, provide information to residents and guests, provide access control, enforce rules, and act as a go-between for residents and management when management is not on-site.
Hotel concierge staff have their own professional association, called Les Clefs d'Or ("The Golden Keys"). It was formed in France in October 1929. It now reaches over 3000 members in over 40 countries. Members can be distinguished by the gold keys they display on their lapels.
In hotels, a concierge assists guests with various tasks like making restaurant reservations, arranging for spa services, recommending night life hot spots, booking transportation (limousines, airplanes, boats, etc.), procurement of tickets to special events and assisting with various travel arrangements and tours of local attractions. In upscale establishments, a concierge is often expected to "achieve the impossible", dealing with any request a guest may have, no matter how strange, relying on an extensive list of contacts with local merchants and service providers.
Other types of concierge services
In hospitals, concierge services are becoming increasingly available. A hospital concierge provides similar services to those of a hotel concierge, but serve patients and employees as well. This helps hospital employees who work long shifts, and helps to provide work-life balance.
Today there are numerous independent personal concierge companies. Many of these companies provide errand services and information services for their members. Services include informational requests, setting dinner reservations, making telephone calls, researching travel arrangements and more. Typically, concierge companies will bill on an hourly rate, and depending upon the type of task, fees can fluctuate drastically. Other companies bill a flat monthly fee based upon the number of requests a member is allowed to place each month. Over the last 10 years in the United Kingdom, concierge has become a key marketing/loyalty tool in the banking sector and offered as a benefit on luxury credit cards. This service offering is also known as lifestyle management. Concierges also entertain their clients.
The owners and operators of concierge, lifestyle management and errand service businesses are supported and advocated by the non-profit International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association (ICLMA) and the National Concierge Association. These associations serve their members through essential resources, continuing education, networking opportunities and other professional endeavors.