Hotel Concierge Life: Hospitality at the Four Seasons
Ever wonder what it’s like being a hotel concierge? George Murray, currently the Concierge Manager at the Four Seasons London Park, has built a 30+ year career out of being able to calmly, coolly and happily satisfy hundreds of daily requests.
George Murray, Concierge Manager at the Four Seasons London Park
From theater tickets to dinner reservations and everything in between, his expert recommendations and superb communications skills have become incredibly valuable assets in the increasingly demanding world of hospitality.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Is there a “typical day” in this job? Every day is different. We are reacting to the requests as the guests give them to us, but I would expect lots of questions and lots of requests for transportation, shipping, sightseeing and restaurants.
What characteristics separate good concierges from a great ones?
They have to be two kinds of people: creative extroverts who are great with people and love talking with them, and also super organized and systematic in planning and arranging things. Sometimes these are contradictory. The best concierges are brilliant at both.
How does Four Seasons differentiate itself when it comes to hospitality?
It’s all about the people! We spend a lot of time and effort in recruiting the best people, who are naturally kind and enthusiastic. We then train and nurture them to be the best they can be. Staff are empowered to break rules if it is for the guests’ benefit and are encouraged to be themselves.
What are your favorite (and least favorite) parts of your job?
As a manager and leader it is seeing my staff grow and develop over the years. Least favorite is the amount of internal administration it takes to run a department.
When guests make specific requests (dinner reservations or theater tickets, for example) and you aren’t able to deliver on their first choice, what do you do?
A good concierge will always be able to offer alternatives. As long as the guest knows you are trying your best and you arrange something good, guests usually are pleasantly surprised.
Given that many people are likely repeat guests, in what ways do you try to personalize what you do for them over time?
As a concierge it is about knowing them well. The regular guests are usually creatures of habit and routine, and they like returning to us because we make things easier for them. Same room, newspaper, sheets, driver and restaurants, but it is all about relationships. Guests build a rapport with the employees and like the familiarity.
In your experience, what are the differences between the way Americans view and engage with concierge services compared to the way Europeans do?
The American guests are used to concierges and I would say more demanding of their time and experience. They usually ask lots of questions and have a list of items that they wish to achieve whilst on their trip. However, they are appreciative of your assistance. Europeans and Middle Eastern guests are different in that they are more spontaneous and ask the concierge what their opinions and recommendations are.
Have you noticed any trends between what business travelers, those on holiday or even celebrity guests ask for?
Business travelers are all about speed and efficiency. Holiday guests are all about having the best experiences.
Any particularly memorable guest requests?
Well they are too numerable over my 35 years of being a concierge, however I do have a couple that do stand out. I had to arrange a coffin for a guest who wanted to go to a Fancy Dress Party, and shipping live bulls’ sperm to Argentina was a challenge!