"Golden keys to the heart of the clients"

The concierges were first mentioned in the 12th century: at first in 1192 under the name of cumcerge, then in 1220 under the name of concierge. In 1929, in Paris, Pierre Quentin from the Ambassador Hotel founded a union of concierges to provide mutual assistance, which included 10 more colleagues from Paris Grand Hotels. In Cannes, on April 25, 1952, Ferdinand Gillet organized the 1st International Congress of Concierges in the Carlton Hotel, which brought together delegates from nine European countries. Then the European Union of Grand Hotel Porters (Union Europeene des Portiers des Grands Hotels - UEPGH) was founded, which was headed by Mr. Gilet. In 20 years, on November 15, 1972, at the 20th International Congress in Majorca (Spain), this union, which already included 16 countries, was officially registered as an international one (Union Internationale des Portiers des Grands Hotels - UIPGH); it is also known as the "Golden Keys" (fr. Les Clefs d’Or)

Concierge, as a term, was first used in France around 1697 to refer to a doorkeeper and a representative of a landlord, and later was treated as a hotel employee who handled luggage and mail, and was engaged in booking rooms and organizing tours.

Several etymological interpretations can explain this word. Some sources say that it probably came from the Latin "conservus", which translates as "fellow slave". Others state that it means "keeper of keys". It is also possible that "concierge" is short for "comte des cierges" ("candle counter"), the servant responsible for maintaining the lighting and cleanliness of medieval palaces. Why? Was the concierge a person responsible for the supervision, control and care of candles in the past? It turns out that he was! Since candles were the only form of lighting in the Middle Ages and posed a fire hazard, it was necessary to hire someone to take care of them. Decide for yourself which version to choose, but what you can be sure of is that this word came from France.

The concierge's competence went beyond the castle by the 1800s, when a number of buildings in Europe, from government offices to prisons, had their own concierge on staff. In honor of this, there is even a famous prison in Paris called The Conciergerie. At the same time, a new type of concierge service appeared in apartment buildings in Paris. The concierge often had a small apartment on the ground floor and could receive mail and parcels, as well as record all comings and goings. This was the beginning of a doorman profession.

Many years have passed and a lot has changed! Good concierges, qualified, having desire to achieve the best result and optimization for the client, whether it is a hotel concierge or a concierge of a club similar to Affluence (Moscow), are worth their weight in gold. The best personal assistants, who are also rare and seem to be in the same "red book" with the concierges are, rightfully can be treated as top concierges. That's why all these representatives are valuable, since customers are most attached to them, because the most important thing is when you are understood, I would even say, they understand your desires without words and perceive any task as if they are trying for themselves personally. These representatives often create "miracles" that others cannot do. I'd like to say, as always, there are no miracles as such, it's always a head multiplied by the number of attempts, coupled with knowledge of the industry and an understanding of the "one in a million" way how to achieve the result. I repeat that this is a huge rarity and the main peculiarity in terms of company development in our industry and, of course, in the club, which I head as a managing partner. I am talking about all this from the expert's point of view and also due to the fact that I have worked in the hotel business for 8 years, and as an assistant to large business owners for 10 years and for 4 years at Affluence Club. And, in general, I perceive the creation of this business and its mission as the closure of a certain triangle of the industry where I was lucky enough to participate in every aspect of it.

It is important to dispel one misbelief here: concierges are not competitors to personal assistants, on the contrary, they complement them, creating powerful synergy and expertise. I have already told in earlier interviews that a couple of years ago I made up a client concept and, as a result, the advertising slogan "personal assistant of a personal assistant" was subsequently used. That is, I sincerely believe, and practice has proved it, that a very correct strategic decision of any manager is to arrange for his assistant a membership in a concierge club. Coupled with all the cost optimizations that a professional and top concierge causes to a client or, in our case, to a club member, he (annual membership fee), at least, is paid off and, let's be honest, RUB 50-70 thousand as compared to the market of personal assistants, with a natural 100% non-coincidence with the functionality, is more than a reasonable membership fee.

It is also important that since the concierge club has more clients than a personal assistant of a manager, the expertise of the club is globally updated more often, which does not put someone higher and more important, here in the best sense, everyone is equal, correctly complementing each other.

Concierges never know what the next request may be, but they know that they will do everything possible to accomplish it correctly, quickly and efficiently. Not because they are slaves to their work, as the origin of the word implies, but because they are experienced professionals who receive first-class training how to put the client first.

Nowadays, the concierge has stepped outside the doors of a traditional 5-star hotel and has become your personal saver and even a guardian angel – a person who is ready to help you in any business or day-to-day issue at any time, makes unique cases from the outside; and what is important is that in addition to the so-called lifestyle segment, properly built concierge companies segment business into two equal parts: lifestyle and travel, selecting employees according to their competencies.

Here, complementing the above, it is important to dispel another misbelief that the concierge is only ordering flowers, transfers and tables in popular and not very popular restaurants. The right concierge today is an independent travel expertise that allows you to arrange on turnkey bases all aspects of both basic travel and the most complex expeditions, yacht charters and much more, and all this coupled with lifestyle expertise, makes the service indispensable, something like a "one-stop shop".

Returning to the travel concierge, we invented and introduced it in April 2021 and, up to date, it is successfully sold and has a great demand. This is convenient for many parties, here the opportunity to contact your lifestyle concierge arises when a trip is ordered and paid for through the travel club. The price is absolutely reasonable, the first year it was RUB 180,000, starting from April 1 of this year the price will be the originally planned RUB 230,000 per year, respectively (the price for a concierge subscription is RUB 600,000 before April 1 and RUB 750,000 after). Herewith, the average guaranteed optimization as compared to open prices, for example in the category "accommodation", is not less than 15-20%. A number of optimizations in the lifestyle category and in the purchase of luxury goods is often 50 percent or more. There are facts when based on the example of one transaction, a club member, as they say, pays off his investments.

As you can see, the concierge profession has absorbed a variety of functions and competencies, but in fact, its role has always been the same - to provide access, offer solutions, insure any risks and be responsible for the result throughout the entire cycle of any task.

The concierge in the one skin performs many jobs: art critic, gourmet, tourist guide, attorney and even psychologist. Our work covers the impossible, where the limit is the imagination of our guests, which we often warm up ourselves with our recommendations, always within the strictest ethical and legal standards.

Social skills, cultural knowledge, curiosity, perseverance. Our profession requires a range of abilities, as well as constant training and dedication. First of all, it requires a lot of resources, since we need to know almost everything.

Let me quote a foreign colleague, whose definition I really liked:

"For the concierge, the word “no” does not exist. Nothing is impossible, just another challenge to seek a miraculous solution, and the more difficult or extravagant the request is, the more we are motivated. Discretion is another of our main priorities and, for this reason, I cannot reveal the most implausible experience(s) that I have faced throughout my professional career".

On my own behalf, I'd like to add that, of course, you may hear the word "no" from an overqualified concierge, but this will mean that the task is really impossible to accomplish and all possible ways to achieve the result have been checked out. Please agree that this is also an expertise and another reason to cherish the concierge, who will always save you either time or money, or both, on a good day, which are the vast majority in your communication experience.

Mikhail Gusev,

Club Founder and Managing Partner