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Concierges are the most visible and active ambassadors of hotel hospitality. Their basic duty is to provide hotel guests with services to help make their stay as comfortable, enjoyable, and memorable as possible. Many of the requests concierges receive are for directions to city attractions, recommendations for tours or restaurants, or help dealing with airlines or car rental agencies. Concierges obtain out-of-town newspapers, arrange for the pickup of dry cleaning, or reserve show tickets. Concierges also work with other departments in the hotel to prepare for large groups, VIP guests, or any guest that may have special needs. Sometimes welcome letters or baskets of fruit are sent to such guests by the concierge desk. However, concierge duties do not end there. Many hotels provide different levels of concierge service, depending on the type of guest. Penthouse guests can enjoy a private reception with a separate concierge department to meet their needs as well as serve them afternoon tea and hot hors d'oeuvres and drinks during the cocktail hour. Some concierge desks also host similar cocktail hours in the lobby.
Sometimes a request can be more involved. Concierges have been known to plan large dinners or receptions on short notice, design entire travel itineraries complete with lodging and tours, rent airplanes or helicopters, secure the front row seats to a sold-out concert or sporting event, or even fill a room with flowers to set the mood for a marriage proposal. Concierges are trained to use their resources and contacts to serve the guest in whatever manner possible. They will, however, refuse to help the guest in any acts unlawful or unkind—no illegal drugs, prostitution, or practical jokes that may be deemed hurtful.
Concierges also spend a considerable amount of time researching restaurants, tours, museums, and other city attractions. Since a recommendation can bring additional business, many tour operators will pay special attention to visiting concierges.