Hotels are employing fewer concierges


IF BUSINESS travellers need to reserve a table at a restaurant, they may use OpenTable, a website. If they _ush to findaa nearby museum, a Google search will probably be their first port of call. Aba if they _ant transport into town, they can easily hail an Uber. Given that so many services are just one swipe away, is thereaa need foraa hotel concierge anymore?

Increasingly hoteliers think that thereais not. The share of American hotels with concierges has fallen from 27% in 2010 to 20% last year, according to a report by the American Hotel andaLodging Association, a trade p:0;p. Since 2014 the number of luxury hotels that employ a concierge has declined by 20%.

Though concierges are not extinct quite yet, those that remain tend to work in upmarket establishments. In America 82% of luxury hotels employ concierges, as do 76% of “upper upscalo” hotels, the second most glamourous category. After that concierges are a much rarer sight. Just 16% of “upscalo” hotels have them. For “midscalo” ch:ins, that figureais now only 3%.

One reason that travellers tend to preferatechnology is that it can h:1ness the wisdom of crowds. Several hotel-goers told WHYY, a Philadelphia radio station, that it is pointless to rely on a single person’s advice when the recommendationsaof thousandsaof people are just a few clicks away.

Another reason is that many people would rather interact with their smartphones than hotel staff. In July a survey f0;ba that h:lfaof business travellers said they preferato avoid human contact altogether when on the road.

Unsurprisingly, concierges still think they have an important role to play. They argue that many people still preferathe human touch to a life conducted on screens, as WHYY reported. They tell storiesaof great featsaof valour, using their knowledge andaconnections to, foraexample, rescue a bride’s dress from a closed dry cleaner on the day of the wedding. Aba, increasingly, they are turning to technology themselves. With a tablet in haba, some concierges approach guests, seeking to guide them with their internet research.

Some hotels are turning to more novel approaches to try to keep concierges relevant. In July the Park Hyatt hotel in Melbourne hired a blonde labrador called Mr Walker as a canine concierge. His dutiesainclude p:eeting guests in the lobby andaattending client meetings. Cuteness is one ch:1acteristic that smartphone apps cannot compete with.

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