LOS ANGELES—A hotel concierge is always moving—whether it’s his or her brain, mouth, fingers or legs. At any given moment, he or she could be recommending restaurants and/or booking reservations; coordinating transportation; pointing out the nightlife hotspots near the property; procuring tickets to special events; arranging for spa services; and more. It’s a lot to keep track of and, for years, it most likely has been done with paper and pen, or crudely designed calendars on computer systems.
The GoConcierge web platform, produced by GoConcierge.net, based here, helps concierges keep track of everything they do in an easy-to-use task and calendar program, and also provides a search tool so they can find that perfect restaurant or club for their guests.
Adam Isrow, cofounder and EVP of GoConcierge.net, noted that there was one hitch to devising a web-based application when the platform was started in 2000.
“Initially, we created a tool using Microsoft Access that would be placed on the hotel network,” he said. “Very shortly thereafter, we decided that the internet seemed to be the best option for what we were trying to achieve. The only challenge was that most hotels did not yet have internet access at the concierge desk, and many suggested we were making a mistake for moving to the internet. Fortunately, we moved forward with our goal of developing a web-based solution. We believed we couldn’t be the only hotel that had this need and, if we could get the application into a few hotels and provide both great technology and great support, other hotels would see the need as well.”
The main functionality of GoConcierge revolves around the Shared Task Calendar, noted Isrow. “This is where the team can enter activity and restaurant requests for the guest,” he said. “Once this information is entered into GoConcierge, all team members who have been granted access can see this information, answer guest questions and follow up with appropriate vendors. In addition, the team is able to print or send confirmation letters and itineraries—branded with the hotel logo—to engage the guests, oftentimes, prior to arriving at the hotel. Our clients also benefit from a customized database of vendors and contacts, and can provide driving directions and a map. Additionally, GoConcierge has become more of a total operation solution—or GoOperation—because we are able to set up various department screens within the application such as lost and found, packages (FedEx, UPS, etc.), amenities and more. Our clients also enjoy the ability to send SMS text messages to guests; the guests can respond back and it will appear directly in GoConcierge.”
Isrow noted that GoConcierge also has an interface with OpenTable, which allows the concierge to book a restaurant reservation. “In addition, some smaller restaurants can use the program to track reservations,” he said.
GoConcierge—which has a one-time setup and implementation fee, and a monthly licensing fee—is used at more than 1,000 hotels in more than 60 countries around the world, according to the EVP.
Hutton Hotel, a 247-room boutique property in midtown Nashville, TN, has been a GoConcierge client since early 2010. Laura Cunningham, the hotel’s chief concierge, said learning how to use the program and keep track of the updates has been easy and fun.
“GoConcierge offered two training sessions for our staff, and we quickly learned the program is extremely user-friendly,” she said. “The front desk was immediately able to use the program; compared to other operating systems that take longer to become efficient. With GoConcierge, new concierge team members find the program easy to master using the training guides found in the GoLounge. I personally love taking the quiz on GoLounge to make sure I haven’t missed any new updates, and encourage our staff to do the same.”
Before GoConcierge, Cunningham and her team used a traditional log book and handwritten or typed letters for confirmations, and outgoing packages were listed in an Excel chart. She added, “I don’t even remember how we ordered amenities and confirmed their delivery.”
Today, the program allows the concierge staff to be organized and efficient, she pointed out.
“Our hotel uses it for everything concierge- and guest services-related,” she said. “We log anything booked for guests; create confirmations and orders; have amenities delivered; and log all packages shipped out of the hotel. Also, our PBX department takes phone messages and passes them on to our team through GoConcierge.”
Cunningham noted other staff besides the concierge team has access to the program. “PBX, sales, reservations, 1808 Grille [the hotel’s signature restaurant]and in-room dining use it as well. In fact, in-room dining has a computer for the sole purpose of using GoConcierge.”
On a typical day, the program is used by Cunningham’s team as soon as they start their workday. “We open it as soon as we arrive at the concierge desk and keep our accounts open all day,” she said. “We check for flashing reminders to see when tickets go on sale in the morning and what time we need to purchase them, and check reminders for new messages from our phone operator. Concierge, sales and our VIP coordinator add any last-minute amenities for guests checking into the hotel that day before taking the amenity report to our kitchen.”
She continued, “We log almost every guest interaction and give—or email—letters, confirmations and itineraries to guests throughout the day. We can easily alter itineraries and confirmations with details to help personalize the guests’ experiences by using this software. At the end of each shift, we check our icons at the end of the tasks bar to make sure each guest has everything reserved and confirmed. We also see what information is open and what we need to add to our shift report, as well as confirm in-room dining has delivered all the amenities that our team members have requested.” HB