At your service!

The second Annual South African Guest Relations and Concierge Conference took place on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at La Toscana Montecasino in Johannesburg. This new forum was established in 2010 for both guest relations managers and concierges from four - and five-star properties in Johannesburg to share ideas, keep up to date with the latest industry trends and discover the attractions and activities in and around Johannesburg that can assist them in creating the unforgettable experiences guests expect.

The firstconference in 2010 was initiated and set up by Deon Prinsloo, guest relations manager at The Palazzo Montecasino, with the aim of creating an opportunity for local guest relations managers and concierges to raise the bar of excellence. Prinsloo, one of South Africa’s top concierges, has been the driving force behind the guest relations and concierge conferences and regular meetings over the past 12 months.

“The annual Concierge Conference serves to create an awareness of the value of concierge services offered by hotels to ensure guests enjoy an unforgettable experience,” notes Prinsloo. “The concierge is a direct link between guests and service providers, providing exposure for the many products and services available around the country, whilst enhancing the guest experience. As such, the conference also provides an opportunity for some of these providers to exhibit their offerings of interest to guests staying at hotels in and around Johannesburg and to briefly introduce their activities to the attendees.”

The forum has been endorsed and is supported by the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC), which sponsors special concierge tours of new attractions in and around the city and covered the full cost of each hotel representative at the 2011 Concierge Conference.

During the event, four new head concierges received their Golden Keys and were officially inaugurated into the Les Clefs d'Or, the International Concierge Society, which brings the total number of Golden Key head concierges working in South Africa to eight members. These include: Ronnie Govender from Sandton Sun; Archie Christodoulides from The Michelangelo Hotel; Claude-Francois Ndala from Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga; Deon Prinsloo from Palazzo Hotel Fourways; Lizelle De Haas from Radisson Blu Sandton; Vinny Maharaj from Intercontinental Sandton Towers; Billy Chetty from Davinci Hotel & Suites Sandton; and Ryan Van Zyl from Cape Royale Luxury Hotel and Residence Cape Town.

Both Ronnie Govender and Claude-Francois Ndala will represent South Africa at the 2012 International World Conference being held in London.

“In order to establish SA’s very own Les Clef d’Or chapter, a minimum of 10 members are required. The aim is to provide discerning international guests with world class concierge service through effective national and international networking between concierges,” says Prinsloo.

This year also saw the introduction of the first ever Concierge of the Year Competition to be conducted annually, supported by JTC, in which participating hotels will be audited and evaluated on the overall performance of their concierge team. The winners of this new award will be announced at the 2012 Concierge Conference and awarded with the JTC Concierge of the Year floating trophy. This is another way to highlight the importance of the concierge role in hotels and the country.

Guest speakers on the day included Charles Ferrer, president Les Clef D’Or: United Arab Emirates and Middle East; Thuli Sithole of Ulhukon Concierge; Neesha Padayachy, global product manager from South African Tourism; and Phelisa Mangcu of JTC.

Over R200 000 in prizes were sponsored by various companies within the travel and tourism industry for the conference to create some enthusiasm and getting to know their relevant products on offer. This included a weekend away at Sabi Sabi valued at R26 000, tanzanites to the value of R5 000 from Jewel Africa and a weekend away on Rovos Rail valued at R 36 000.

Seen in the photograph above attending the second Concierge Conference are (from left): Claude-Francois Ndala from Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga; Archie Christodoulides from The Michelangelo Hotel; Lizelle De Haas from Radisson Blu Sandton; Deon Prinsloo from Palazzo Hotel Fourways; Ronnie Govender from Sandton Sun; and Vinny Maharaj from Intercontinental Sandton Towers.

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