News for the Hospitality Executive
February 2012 - Over 600 of the world’s top concierges assembled in London, England, to honor London’s Olympic year and focus on the impact of social media, expanding global markets such as China and the escalating demand for personalized experiences as the concierge profession continues to evolve at the 59th annual Congress of Union Internationale des Concierges d ’Hotels (U.I.C.H.). Considered the service elite in leading hotels and resorts in over 40 countries, Les Clefs d’Or hotel lobby concierges are often considered “the brand within the brand”. It is estimated that the approximately 3, 500 international members serve over 126 million hotel guests each year and represent the top three percent of the overall concierge profession in the world.
The scope, reach and influence of the Les Clefs d’Or brand attracted leading hoteliers to this year’s Congress with InterContinental Hotel Group Chairman, David Webster, giving the keynote speech. Mr. Webster highlighted the strong focus and value that IHG has placed on their concierge teams with their “In the Know” program to personally connect guests to local experiences. He also revealed IHG’s plans for extensive hotel and human resource expansion in China and showcased IHG’s relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand.
With an educational focus on maximizing the potential of benchmark data on the Les Clefs d' Or concierges, top hotel executives focused on the evolving roles of this historic profession, highlighting strategic, operational, marketing and technological advances in the hospitality industry. The Panel of experts facilitated by Gerald Parent, Director of American Express Member Travel Services and UICH Honorary member, featured Robert Gaymer-Jones: CEO Sofitel Worldwide (Paris, France), Paul James: Vice President Global Brand Management, St Regis/Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Andrea Torrance: Vice President, Rooms at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Stuart Johnson: General Manager Brown’s Hotel: Chairman of The Master Innholders, Darren Gearing: Vice President and GM, Shangri-La London, and Simon Scoot: Vice President Global Brand Management InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.
Virginia Casale, the UICH worldwide president and only the second woman to hold the position in the organization’s 59 year history noted that the Les Clefs d’Or brand continues to uphold the highest levels of guest service and experience. “Delegates attend each Congress to learn more about our profession as well as better understand how they may better inform and refer guests to more personalized experiences when they are back at their desks and guest travel questions are presented,” “ said Casale, concierge at the Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile in Canada. “Les Clefs d’Or professionals have a never-ending network of acquaintances, friends and colleagues from around the world to assist them in meeting and exceeding guest demands. Known for rolodexes worth millions, Les Clefs d’Or concierges are in the enviable position of being able to recommend destinations, businesses, companies, and/or products to thousands of business and leisure travelers throughout the world so each Congress city does its best to impress and educate these ‘experience creators’,” Casale continued. The 60th International Congress will take place in Queenstown, New Zealand in year 2013.
During their stay in London, delegates sampled some of the capital’s top tourist attractions, including the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, a cruise down the River Thames, the Tower Bridge and Hampton Court Palace as well as the Theatre and area restaurants. They also visited the Olympic Park in Stratford to see preparations for this summer’s Games. The highlight of the Congress was a Gala Dinner in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House, JW Marriott Hotel, with VIP guests including HRH, The Duke of Gloucester, Sir David Brewer, Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Rocco Forte, William Morris III of Morris Communications, Mrs. Regine Sixt of Sixt International, Mrs. Sophia Lundberg, Vice President of American Express Member Travel Services and the over 1200 delegates and their guests in native costumes from around the world. Poland was also welcomed as the 43rd official member country of Les Clefs d’Or and Paul Still, Congress Chair and Chef Concierge of the London Hilton on Park Lane was installed as the new president of Great Britain’s Golden Keys.
Paul Still, London Congress Chair, Chef Concierge of the London Hilton on Park Lane and newly installedGreat Britain Golden Key’s immediate past President Ron Crowdy noted that, “It was a great honour for London to host this prestigious congress in the Olympic as well as Diamond Jubilee year, celebrating the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.’ Mr. Crowdy, a concierge for over forty years with the Imperial London Hotels group, proudly stated that ‘The distinctive crossed Golden Keys on the lapels of a hotel concierge is an assurance of quality and integrity and that guests can be reassured that their Les Clefs d’Or concierge has the contacts to source, obtain, reserve, recommend, advise, and personalise their stay in any city.’
President of the Golden Keys Society in Great Britain and Roberta Nedry, President of Hospitality Excellence, Inc.
Les Clefs d'Or (pronounced "lay clay door") is French and literally translates as 'keys of gold". The foundation of the association can be traced back to 1929 at the Hotel Scribe in Paris, where a small group of French Concierges met with the intention of working together for the benefit of their guests. Several similar groups evolved around Europe and the International Association was formed in 1952, when 12 countries met in Paris and formed The Union International Portiers des Grands Hotels. To obtain the coveted title of a Les Clefs d’Or concierge, candidates must have five years' exemplary service and face rigorous examination before being awarded the coveted Golden Keys which are worn on the lapels of a concierge's jacket. The award of the Golden Keys brings prestige on the recipient and the hotel they represent.
For more information visit www.uichlesclefsdor.org. or www.goldenkeysconcierge.co.uk
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