When a Hotel Concierge is Useless vs. Useful

Hotel concierges roles have changed throughout the years. Before the internet they were usually the go to resource when visiting a new city or needing a restaurant reservation. Today, I often find the roles of a hotel concierge useless in many places I visit. Growth is expected to slow in the concierge industry mainly due to technology but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at when concierges can be extremely useful

Hotel concierges internationally

Hotel concierges are absolutely useful when traveling internationally. The uses for a concierge only vary slightly from using concierges in the United States but the services are significantly more helpful:

  • Arranging transportation such as private drivers, airport transfers, etc.
  • Making restaurant suggestions and reservations when foreign languages come into play
  • Suggesting well vetted city guides that won’t scam you
  • Recommendations on tours, activities, and other things to do
  • Basics such as writing down names of the hotel or restaurant in local languages and providing tips and easy to understand instructions for navigating a new city.

Examples of using international hotel concierges

For instance, on my honeymoon in Tokyo we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton. Before the trip we leveraged the hotel to make restaurant reservations for multiple hard to book restaurants. They not only took care of reservations for restaurants that did not have English speakers but they also monitored exactly when the restaurants began accepting reservations. When we arrived to the hotel they had a detailed itinerary already waiting for us including the names and addresses of each restaurant written in both English and Japanese.

Also on my honeymoon, the Ritz-Carlton Bali concierge also was excellent. Local guides/private drivers are common in Bali and the Ritz Bali not only arranged well vetted guides but we were also able to have the charges put on our room folio so more points!!!

On our upcoming Maldives trip we are stopping Hong Kong for a couple days. Due to crazy work schedules we just decided what restaurants we wanted to dine at – less than two weeks out. One of them is Lung King Heen – the only 3* Michelin restaurant in Hong Kong. As you can imagine, this is often a tough reservation to get with short notice. Our Conrad Hong Kong concierge was able to confirm us a table less than a week out. He also has made us reservations at another restaurant that has no email reservation option.

Lung King Heen Four Seasons Hong Kong
Lung King Heen Four Seasons Hong Kong. 3* Michelin Restaurant

When hotel concierges are (mostly) useless

Frankly, I feel bad saying concierges are useless since they’re usually very nice. But, I can’t remember the last time domestically I used a hotel concierge. I can do my own research on restaurants and book them via OpenTable or call. Ordering an Uber anywhere is simple as can be. I can rent a car and drive myself around to wherever I need to be. It’s simple to read reviews and find local guides should one desire.

Final Thoughts

Once you take away foreign language complexities and extreme time changes I find concierges relatively unnecessary these days. Some people may still like the recommendations from concierges when traveling within the United States, and occasionally a REALLY good concierge can get you a tough reservation, but most simply provide maps and simply call restaurants these days.

Anyone else rarely use concierges except for international travel? Am I missing some special benefit I should be taking advantage of when traveling within the U.S.?

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