What exactly is a Concierge anyway?

By Katharine C. Giovanni, CCS

What exactly is a concierge? Depends who you ask …

A concierge friend of mine researched this extensively and sent me the following definition …

Although more and more people are becoming familiar with the term “concierge,” very few know where this customer-service based profession originated.  The word “concierge” evolves from the French comte Des cierges, the “keeper of the candler,” a term that referred to the servant who attended to the whims of visiting noblemen at medieval castles. Eventually, the name “concierge” came to stand for keeper of the keys at public buildings, especially hotels. There is even a famous prison in Paris that is called The Conciergerie, in honor of the warden who kept the keys and assigned cells to the inmates.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers this definition …

French, from Old French, prob from (assumed) Vulgar Latin conservius, alteration of Latin conservus fellow slave, from com- + servus slave. 1 : a resident in an apartment building especially in France who serves as doorkeeper, landlord’s representative, and janitor. 2 : a usually multilingual hotel staff member who handles luggage and mail, makes reservations, and arranges tours

Lastly, a client of mine from Mexico tells me that in his country, the word “concierge” means Janitor!!!

Regardless of the origin, hotels from around the world were the first ones to adopt the concierge idea and offer the service to their guests. Today, independent concierge companies have brought this ancient service to the modern world so that now everyone has access to them.

So what exactly is a concierge??  I think the short version here is that it is simply another word for personal assistant.

The concierge industry itself is only about 10-15 years old and started with a few brave pioneers who took the hotel concierge idea and decided to offer it to the corporate world. I have been in the field since 1998 and when I started there were, perhaps, 50 or so concierge around the U.S.  Today, I suspect there are thousands.  I have nothing to base these numbers on except my personal experience in the field.  You can actually see the phenomenal growth by looking at my company’s numbers. Triangle Concierge began in 1998 with a dozen clients. Today we have thousands of clients from 30 countries and every US state.

You can now find concierge everywhere … in hospitals, malls, corporations, apartment buildings, office buildings, airports, colleges, associations, churches and on and on and on.  You could sum up the state of the industry in two words …  extraordinary growth.

We all do a balancing act every day, and since most of us don’t have a personal assistant to make the phone calls and run the errands for us, we try and cram them into the weekend and on our lunch hour during the week. In fact, many people feel that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Right?

Well help has arrived!!!

Although the concierge industry is fairly new, the number of companies that are catering to time-starved people is skyrocketing as is the customer demand for such businesses.  Why? Simple. People are trying to squeeze 36 hours into a 24-hour day.

Here are a few services that are currently offered by concierge around the country:

  • Search for tickets to concerts and special events

  • Transportation Services

  • Business Referral Service

  • Restaurant Recommendations and Reservations

  • Dry cleaning pick-up/delivery

  • Grocery shopping

  • Pet services

  • Senior care

  • Modified house sitting

  • Travel and Vacation Planning

  • Meeting and Event Planning

This is only a few of the many services a concierge can offer. The sky is the limit here! Therer are dozens and dozens of things you can do here.

Concierge services is also a terrific new work/life benefit as corporations begin to offer these services to their employees and clients. Real estate management companies are setting up lobby concierge and are offering them to their apartment and office buildings and neighborhoods. Concierges are being added to hospitals, universities, shopping malls, airports and more. Travel Agencies, Meeting Planners and Real Estate Agents are all adding them to their list of services. Certainly it’s the wave of the future.

The really wonderful thing about this business is that there are so many revenue streams that you can attach to it!

Good luck!

Copyright © 2004-2010 by Katharine Giovanni

About the Author: Katharine Giovanni, the world’s leading international concierge training expert, has been training concierge for over a decade. She is Triangle Concierge’s senior trainer and speaker, and is the author of their best-selling books Going Above and Beyond and The Concierge Manual. Katharine has traveled around the country teaching workshops to groups, individuals and corporations.  She has appeared in dozens of newspaper articles, magazines, radio and TV shows around the country including ABC News Nightline, CBS News, ABC News, Delta Airlines Sky Radio, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times and Conde Naste to name a few.  Raised in New York City, Katharine has a B.A. from Lake Forest College and currently lives in North Carolina with her husband Ron and two children. Katharine is a member of the National Speakers Association. She can be reached through her websites at or


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