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Concierge Tips with Amanda Cooper

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

AmandaCooperWe are very excited to have Amanda Cooper on the team at Concierge Preferred to provide our clients with insight and expert advice on how to work better with the Chicagoland concierge community. Many of you may know Amanda from the industry as she was Chef Concierge at the Fairmont and a member of our Concierge Advisory Council and the CHCA .

She is available to all of our marketing partners whenever they have any questions on just about anything concierge related! Here she shares three tips for enhancing your concierge relationships.

 

The amount of tourists visiting and staying in Chicago the first part of May will be unprecedented.  Many of these travelers will be interested in food and Chicago’s amazing selection of restaurants to choose from.  What can our restaurant partners do to stand out and win business from the concierge at the hotels?

Guarantee reservation requests made by concierge for their guests!  The concierge in the city will be in high demand at the hotels and under an extreme amount of pressure to best serve this high volume of guests.  There is not a ton of time to shop around for restaurant availability.  Knowing there is a list of places that will take care of our guests no matter what make our lives a lot easier.  When a restaurant goes out of their way to accommodate our needs, especially when they are already busy, it goes a long way at building a long lasting relationship with a concierge team.

When you were trying to decide what business to send a guest to what was a major factor in your decision making process?

We always looked for a place that would provide a customized experience.  Whether that was waiving a cover charge, providing front of the line access, sending the chef to greet guests or even placing our customers in VIP seating for a show.  Whenever a partner can make us look like a rock star by giving the guest an experience they would not normally receive that is a huge plus!

What else can a hospitality business do to win over more concierge?

Streamline the process or give us short cuts to help us save time!  Especially in 2014 with record hotel crowds, concierge around the city were working harder than ever to serve more guests but also maintain a superior level of service.  There are days where a single concierge might be responding to over 50 guest requests in a single shift.  Providing us with a private number, special pass code or consistent contact where we can have questions answered quickly is something that concierge are thrilled to receive.

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May brings more than flowers to Chicago in 2015

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Chicago Buildings and Spring Flowers PictureAs you have probably already heard, Chicago had yet another record breaking year for tourism. The projections for 2014 travel to Chicago passed the 50 million mark for the first time in history of the city.  You are also probably aware that those in charge of managing Chicago’s tourism efforts are expecting that number to only grow higher in 2015. What you may not know though, is you need to be ready for that surge earlier than you may think.

Many of our hospitality partners that depend on tourism traffic to support their business usually plan to build up their campaigns to be at full steam by mid-June when the highest volume of travelers flood the area hotels. In 2015, we are advising our clients to start much earlier so that they are ready for a new stream of travelers in early May that our city has never had before.  The first week in May will see unprecedented hotel occupancy with the addition of three huge new events to Chicago’s busy calendar.

During the span of April 30th through May 8th we will host the NFL Draft, the James Beard Awards, and the brand new Microsoft Ignite conference. The NFL Draft will bring celebrities and fans from around the country to experience not only the actual draft, but a first ever fan-driven festival in Grant Park.  The James Beard Awards are the Oscars of the dining industry and will bring media and celebrity chefs from around the globe to the Lyric Opera on May 4th.  The first ever Microsoft Ignite technology conference is expected to generate 30,000 new convention delegates to McCormick Place from May 4th to May 8th.  Oh, and do not forget the National Restaurant Association Show (NRA Show) is still coming to town a week later!

To make sure you are doing everything you can to generate more business during this unprecedented rush of tourism make sure and start your tourism campaigns by early to mid-April.  The concierge community needs time to catch up with your brand and these travelers will be looking for your information as they prepare for their Chicago experience.

3 ideas on how to prepare using Concierge Preferred:

  • Advertise your brand in the April/May issue of Concierge Preferred (A special cover wrapped edition of this magazine will be distributed for NRA Show guests)
  • Exhibit at the Concierge Preferred Trade Show on April 28th
  • Utilize dedicated e-blasts to the concierge community to put your message directly in front of the concierge

 

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JOB OPENING: Corporate Concierge

Posted on February 18th, 2015 by

Can you organize hotel accommodations for 35 out-of-town guests with two days notice? Are you the host with the most who plans events down to the smallest detail? Is your smartphone full of apps organizing your day and your life?

Corporate Concierge Services, a national concierge firm, is currently seeking a dynamic, outgoing multi-tasker for a Corporate Concierge position. Think you who have the organizational skills and can-do attitude necessary to be a successful concierge?

Can you:

  • Assist tenants of corporate office buildings with entertainment, dining, and cultural event requests through Chicago?
  • Assist tenants with corporate gift giving and meeting planning?
  • Serve as a primary resource for building tenants for information about the building and the surrounding area?
  • Communicate event information to building tenants via email newsletters and social media?
  • Assist tenants with conference center bookings, assuring detailed follow-through on requests?
  • Work closely with building management to assess tenant needs and generate ideas to increase tenant satisfaction?
  • Assist building management with planning and executing on-site events such as pop-up shops, tenant mixers, lunch and learns, and charitable drives?

Do you have:

  • A superior understanding of Chicago’s cultural, dining, and entertainment venues?
  • A polished, personable and professional appearance and manner?
  • The ability to quickly analyze a situation, come up with solutions and implement them?
  • An unflappable, confident demeanor?
  • Computer and Internet savvy?
  • The ability to communicate effectively with a variety of different people, both in writing and verbally?
  • Previous experience in VIP hospitality, event planning, marketing or customer service?
  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience?

If you answered yes to these questions, we want to talk to you about an opportunity we currently have as a Corporate Concierge serving a Loop office building. To be considered for this full-time position with benefits, submit your resume and cover letter to applications@corporateconcierge.com now; please use Job ID KHC071 in the subject line of your email.

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Tourism set to surge in 2015.  Is your business ready to do the same?

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by

Chicago Tourism Surge 2015
In 2014 Chicago had more tourists visit than in any previous year. While business travel continues to be cyclical, the increase in high-spending leisure and international guests helped the number of visitors reach approximately 50 million by some estimates.

Early indicators for 2015 point to an even larger increase in both domestic and international travelers.  Chicago is expecting the grand opening of five new hotel properties to the downtown area, including the newly-opened Virgin Hotel and the soon-to-open Lowes Chicago Hotel.  The addition of the new Maggie Daley Park and playing host to both the NFL Draft and James Beard Awards will drive even more visiting consumers to our city.

It is not too late to make sure your business has a plan in place to make sure your profit rises, as do the numbers of hotels and visitors. The team at Concierge Preferred has been busy helping our hospitality partners develop or refine their tourism marketing plans with the use of market research and a variety of advertising platforms to make sure active tourists know they are here to welcome them.  If you are interested in reviewing your current plan, or building a new one, with a member of our team please contact call Jim Gilligan at 312-360-1766 or e-mail at jgilligan@conciergepreferred.com.

Looking to delve deeper into the upcoming tourism surge? Check out this article in the Chicago Tribune.

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Happy Concierge Day, Chicago!

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by

IheartConcierge

Do you think your job keeps you pretty busy? Are you wiped out by the time the weekend is here each week? Try being a concierge!

The concierge who are a part of the Concierge Preferred network answer questions and complete requests from guests approximately 89,000 times in the average week. With a network of around 600 concierge contacts, that means the average concierge has to solve problems for guests nearly 150 times a week. Throw in the fact that they are usually standing, multi-tasking, and sometimes event running errands for guests, and that is the definition of a busy week. A community that works that hard deserves a big celebration.

Our team at Concierge Preferred is making sure they receive one!  By official proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the team here at Concierge Preferred is proud to announce that the City of Chicago will celebrate its fifth annual Concierge Day in Chicago on January 29, 2015.  Actually, we have been successfully working with the Mayor’s Office since 2011 requesting that the city create a day dedicated to all concierges—from residential and corporate to hotel and other types—as a way to formally pay tribute for all they do to make Chicago the world class destination it is.  Once again we will cap their day off with a big bash honoring their community at the Concierge Favorite Awards hosted by the Hard Rock Cafe.  We are excited to induct two more esteemed concierge into the Concierge Preferred Chicago Concierge Hall of Fame and honor the 2015 Jon Winke Rising Star Award Winner.

Many businesses that depend on the concierge community will be making special offers to their concierge partners either on January 29, or in some cases, that whole week.  If you are interested in showing that your business supports the concierge, feel free to give us a call for ideas and how to spread the word.  If you want to celebrate with the concierge at the Concierge Favorite Awards and have not received an invite contact us to learn how you can attend.  Call Jim Gilligan at 312-360-1766 or e-mail at jgilligan@conciergepreferred.com.

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Mayor Declares Jan. 29 ‘Concierge Day in Chicago’

Posted on January 5th, 2015 by

CONCDay_2015_FBCover

It’s Official! Chicago Once Again Celebrates ‘Concierge Day’

By official proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the team at Concierge Preferred is proud to announce that the City of Chicago will celebrate its fifth annual Concierge Day in Chicago on January 29, 2015.

View the official proclamation here

And our city’s concierges surely deserve it. Each year, they make almost five million referrals with more than 1.3 million dining recommendations, 1.1 million shopping suggestions, 658,000 nightlife referrals, and almost 1.2 million tips on cultural attractions.

Does Your Business Have a Concierge? 
We encourage you to work with your marketing and PR teams to develop creative ways to show your support for all that your concierge do for your property. Whether it’s disseminating a press release about Concierge Day in Chicago and highlighting your concierge team members and the services they provide, including information in your e-newsletter, or promoting via your social media channels – help spread the word and create awareness about all that Chicago’s concierges do to make our city and businesses great. #ConciergeDay

 

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Do Your Homework… Here’s Why:

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by

Publisher’s Note

Do your homework before executing your concierge marketing plans!

‘Tis the season where many of our clients are hard at work determining their 2015 marketing budgets and how to best design a solid marketing program with it.  For many hospitality businesses how to capture more of the attention of the concierge community is usually a big part of that plan.

One of the most popular questions we hear at Concierge Preferred is, “What do the concierge want to hear about from my business?”  “What can I offer their guests to incentive them to send me more business?”  Often businesses just keep trying different options to see if anything sticks, or have no way to track if their efforts are really bringing in ROI.  This trial by error process of finding an effective way to communicate with the concierge can be a costly strategy to any business or marketing team.

The better option is to take the guess work out of it!  Ask the concierge directly what they need to know about your business.  They work with their guests all day, every day.  These are the experts to tell you what will excite their customers so that you are a more frequent recommendation.  Polling the large concierge community is definitely an investment in time and money, but the valuable feedback you will receive might save you a ton of marketing dollars down the road.

TIP: Our team at Concierge Preferred can help make your life easier when it comes to concierge market research.  We offer a variety of concierge research services including concierge focus groups and surveys sent to every concierge in the Chicagoland area. We can even visit every concierge desk on your behalf to ask the questions for you!

Give us a call to find the right solution for your team. Our team can be reached at 312-360-1770 or by emailing me directly at jgilligan@conciergepreferred.com.

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Looking for More Business? Ask a Concierge

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by

Visitor Marketing Best Practices:

Ask the concierge and you shall receive…..more business!

Several years ago we were approached by a limousine company that wanted to begin aggressively marketing their services to the concierge community.  They had heard from other limousine providers that many concierge expected commission in exchange for booking their services. So their plan was to inform concierge they would receive a larger commission from their fleet, but in turn, the guests would not receive any type of a discounted rate. Based on the prices other car companies were offering hotel guests, that seemed to be the right strategy to implement.

We recommended they use our team to develop a focus group composed of some of Chicago’s most experienced and regarded concierges from a variety of different hotels and price ranges.  They took our advice and partnered with our Concierge Relations Team to execute a focus group.  The outcome? They were pleasantly surprised when they learned that a majority of the concierge actually did not prefer the industry standard that other car companies had created. Instead, they were more focused on being able to find a fantastic rate for their guests without trading out service or reliability.

The small investment in a concierge focus group saved this company a lot of time and money that they would have wasted if they went with their original guess.  When they began marketing their program to the hotel concierges, they saw a much greater level of success than many of their competitors who were still using a less effective pricing structure.

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It’s a Good Time to Show Concierges’ Some Love

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by

Hit the Concierge Campaign TrailIt is the heart of election season in our beautiful city, and that goes for the concierge community as well.  The Chicago Hotel Concierge Association (CHCA) recently had their Board Elections, and the National Concierge Association – Chicago Chapter (NCA) are preparing their nominations as well.

Additionally, all of the concierge are beginning to place their votes for their favorite businesses as part of the 2015 Chicago Concierge Favorites Awards.  The polls have been sent out to all of the concierge in the Chicagoland area, asking them to name their top 5 favorite restaurants, attractions/tours, nightlife and shopping destinations. Once the nominations are in, we will be announcing the winners at the 4th Annual Chicago Concierge Favorite Awards hosted by Concierge Preferred at the Hard Rock Cafe on January 29th, 2015. Which is also by official proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, once again, “Concierge Day in Chicago”.

If you have not checked in with your friends in the concierge community, now would be a great time to go say hello and make sure they have everything they need from your business.  Send out an email, give them a call, or pop in and shake few hands!  If they have not been by your location in a while invite them to stop by so they can remember what makes you great.

The polls will close before Thanksgiving, so ignore the cold this week and hit the campaign trail!

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Use the Polar Vortex to Your Advantage

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by

Winter in Chicago

Visitor Marketing Best Practices

Four years ago, our team started collecting nominations for concierges’ favorite businesses for the first-ever Chicago Concierge Favorites Awards. Our team here had so much fun watching the votes come in and learning which establishments our city’s hard-working concierges saw as the “best of the best”.  When the dust finally settled, we were pleasantly surprised by some of the results.

On Becoming a Concierge Favorite

When the list of concierges’ Top 5 Favorite Restaurants was announced there were definitely some of Chicago’s staples, as to be expected, but there was also a tiny Italian restaurant tucked away on a side street in downtown Chicago. This was not a restaurant with a giant staff or even much of a street-presence in terms of signage. In fact, with their location, there was not a ton foot traffic either.  Our mission at Concierge Preferred is to always be able to coach our clients on how they can improve their tourism and concierge marketing efforts which is why we set out to better understand what set this particular restaurant apart from the rest in concierges’ minds.

Much of the feedback was what you would hear about many of our great city’s restaurants: they had great food, a warm atmosphere, and a very friendly staff.  What put this restaurant out in front for many of the concierge, though, was the simple fact that this business stopped in at their hotels consistently to drop off food, menus, and to see if they could help with any reservations for that evening. While many restaurants do this during the busy tourism season, this spot even did it during bitter winter days when the hotels are less busy.  A few concierge even remember being checked in on when there was an actual blizzard taking place.  This dedication showed the concierge that this restaurant genuinely was committed to being their partner and built a real sense of trust.

Keep that in mind when the forecasters start talking about this year’s polar vortex and it is easy to convince yourself to stay inside.  During the summer there are a variety of businesses stopping by the concierge desks to promote their business every day.  Take advantage of Chicago’s cold streak and make sure your concierge friends know you are there to help.  Your message will stand out more, and you might even have more time to get to know each other better and further develop a relationship.

Hot tips from the Concierge Relations team at Concierge Preferred:

  • A good rule of thumb is to avoid Fridays for visiting the concierge.  Especially the Friday before a large convention.
  • If there is a convention is town of over 30,000 attendees you may want to suspend hotel visits.
  • Visits between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. seem to be the most effective.
  • Always ask the concierge if they have a minute.  If they are busy ask them when a good time to give them a call back would be or to come by for a short visit.

If you do not have the time to make consistent concierge desk visits call the team at Concierge Preferred and find out how to secure your own Concierge Ambassador.

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