ALICE spoke with Chief Concierge of the Jung Hotel and Residences of the New Orleans Hotel Collection, Claudette Breve, about the impact of technology on the concierge profession, the current challenges that face the industry, and where she sees the see the profession going in the coming years.
How did you begin your career in the concierge profession?
In 1981, I walked into The Hyatt Regency New Orleans and told them I would be a great asset to their Concierge desk. I was told there were no openings but my persistence paid off and after several tries, they finally agreed to bring me on board. Within the course of 4 years, I went on to become the Assistant Concierge Manager and finally Concierge Manager, running the Club Level and lobby desk. Currently, I am the Chief Concierge at The Jung Hotel and Residences. I personally believe those in this industry are born to serve and that it is in my blood.
What’s the best and most challenging thing about being a concierge?
When you love what you do, and I love being a concierge, it pours out of you. The best thing about being a concierge is sharing my passion for this industry and making people happy by showing them the New Orleans I love through my eyes. If I can touch every interaction in the most positive and helpful way, then I am one step closer to achieving a guest for life.
On the other hand, the challenges can come in many forms. I learned many, many years ago that “NO” is not a word in my vocabulary, so if a guest gives me a challenging task or attitude, I do my best to turn it around quickly. A good concierge is creative with any challenge, and as long as the guest sees you are trying to assist them, it usually turns a negative into a positive.
What is the biggest challenge in the profession?
The biggest challenge facing the profession in New Orleans is hotels bringing in tour and transportation companies to act on behalf of a concierge position behind the front desk. These third-party tour companies sell specific tours and are not allowed to recommend any other company, causing biased recommendations that do not satisfy the guests’ needs. More importantly, these companies lack the expertise and knowledge of the local area and strain the trusted relationship between the concierge and guests. Many of the local associations disapprove of these companies and I will continue to fight and protect our profession.
Where do you get your concierge news/news about the industry?
To stay abreast of constant changes in the New Orleans market, I subscribe to local publications and newsletters. I have also been a member of the New Orleans Concierge Association since it’s conception, so attending our monthly meeting and socials allows me to network and discuss any news, changes, or challenges in our city. This year, I hope to achieve my Gold Keys, which will extend my network even more.
What do you think of the impact of technology on the profession?
Technology, such as platforms like ALICE, has changed the way we do things, giving concierges the ability to find things at lightning speed and helping us become better at what we do. However, I believe technology does not compete with the knowledge of a truly experienced concierge, but it can help us achieve things much quicker and more efficiently.
Where do you see the profession in the next 5 or so years?
I see it getting stronger. Not only are we valued in hotels, but our profession is now being used by corporations and businesses, hospitals and physicians, real estate companies, retirement communities and travel companies. It seems like everywhere you turn, some type of Concierge service is being offered.