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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

They’re not magicians, but concierges can perform some pretty amazing feats. Here’s our insider’s guide to how you can get the most out of your moments with them.

What exactly is a concierge? Coming from the French comte des cierges — meaning “keeper of the candles” — old-school concierges assisted the medieval upper classes as they traveled from castle to castle in Europe. And that’s essentially what they still do today, helping with everything from simple dinner reservations all the way up to securing exotic animals for weddings. And within this already-rarified world, a select few are the crème de la crème.

These top-tier concierges receive golden keys called les clefs d'or, which is the insignia of an international association of elite concierges. And this network of nearly 4,000 members from more than 50 countries makes magic happen 24 hours a day. (They are the ones you’ll call on if you’re trying to arrange a ride on a historic yacht in Monte Carlo.) 

But no matter what your travel hopes and dreams are, your hotel's concierge can likely still help you fulfill them. Here are just a few of the most significant requests a concierge can help you with.

Whether you’re popping the big question or celebrating a birthday, your hotel concierge can help make the occasion extra special. They can assist with anything from filling your hotel room with flowers to organizing a memorable proposal. The concierge team at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Cedar Creek, Texas, for example, arranges private horseback rides for couples who are about to get engaged. The experience includes a stop at a spot that's perfect for a proposal. One concierge at a top London hotel even helped arrange to have an elephant delivered to a Bollywood-inspired wedding. 

Ensuring Your Safety
A concierge has a wealth of local knowledge, so they can offer insight into whether an area, park or activity is safe, and suggest alternatives if your idea is iffy. Making you happy is their top priority, and that begins with keeping you safe.

Helping Business Run Smoothly
A concierge can assist with all kinds of work-related tasks, like getting documents printed, setting up a courier service, mailing packages and setting up meeting space. And they have been known to go far beyond fulfilling typical business requests. For example, when one American woman was delayed while on a business trip in Europe, her concierge arranged for a transatlantic breast milk delivery.

Saving You Money
Your concierge can let you know where to find nearby happy hours, tell you the most economical way to get to the airport and clue you in to the best free sights and activities.  

Getting Tickets
Concierges generally have relationships with ticket brokers, or know season-ticket holders who might not be using their seats. It’s not easy to get tickets for sold-out shows, but there are occasions when concierges can manage it. Some savvy concierges even buy tickets to popular shows and events themselves that they can then sell to clients at a slight markup.

Avoiding Lines
Concierge staff know the most popular attractions in an area, and tricks to avoid waiting in ticket and entrance lines. They can point you to the right sites to buy tickets ahead of time and even print out your tickets for you so you can fast-track your sightseeing. 

Securing Restaurant Reservations
Your concierge can recommend restaurants, and also help you snag hard-to-get reservations. If you’re looking for an insider experience, be sure to ask about restaurants that are typically only frequented by locals, as concierges are sure to have excellent recommendations.

Handling Unusual Requests
One concierge in Italy got a request from twin brothers who wanted to determine once and for all which of them was the fastest driver. Their concierge arranged two sports cars and a racing route in the Chianti region for the brothers’ race. Another concierge was able to secure a 100-room boat with just a few days’ notice. One globetrotter even had the concierge arrange for a different tailored suit for every day of his stay — it turned out he never wore the same thing twice. And one pop star asked their concierge to buy $5,000 worth of Kentucky Fried Chicken. These are the type of unusual requests concierges are adept at handling.

A Note on Tipping: If you do employ the services of a concierge, here are some guidelines about tipping. When checking in, ask the front desk if the final bill will include a “service fee.” If so, some of this cash might go toward paying the concierge, so find out in advance if this is the case and tip or don’t tip accordingly. Regardless of service fees, in a luxury hotel, you don't have to tip the concierge for simple things such as directions, transportation and information about tourist attractions. If your interaction with them lasts only a few minutes and doesn't end with them taking further action on your behalf, no tip is necessary.

However, if a concierge arranges a tour, helps you plan a day's worth of activities or makes calls on your behalf to snag theater tickets or reservations that you can't get on your own, tip them generously. If they help you with a minor task that takes several minutes and some effort, a tip of $5 to $10 is sufficient. If they pull strings and get you tickets to a sold-out show, or go above and beyond by arranging something thoughtful like having an item delivered to your room for your spouse's birthday surprise, anywhere from $15 to $30 is generally appropriate. The exact amount depends on the scale of the favor as well as what you’re comfortable with. Note that tips vary from country to country; for instance, you might tip a concierge only $2 for assistance in the Philippines, while 20 euros would be more appropriate in Germany.

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