Welcome to the Society of the Golden Keys

A Concierge (translated from the French word meaning ‘Keeper of the Keys’) is the person who ‘gets everything done’ when you’re staying at a hotel. He/she is the person who gets you into a restaurant when it’s full, or books your transfers when you’ve forgotten, and so much more…

What is the Society of the Golden Keys all about?

The Society of the Golden Keys, also called Les Clefs d’Or, was started in 1929 in Paris (with just 11 concierges) in order to work together for the benefit of their clients. The aim of this society remains true to its origins and exists to develop friendship amongst concierges globally, and help develop a network of contacts in the hotel fraternity. Today, the society links over 40 associations worldwide. The French word Clefs d’Or translated into English means ‘Golden Keys’. 

The Society of the Golden Keys is recognisable to hotel guests all over the world by the lapel pins of top concierges (which reflect the keys). Those who wear the pin are revered for their professionalism, integrity, local knowledge and impeccable recommendations. Concierges who wish to apply for the Golden Keys should have at least 5 years of experience in this role within a reputable hotel, and they must be nominated for application by two members of the society. Candidates are interviewed by members of the Committee to assess their competence and their suitability.

What do Concierges do?

A concierge will essentially do whatever you ask them to do – provided it’s legal and humanly possible. Services include anything from handling your emails or messages to recommending local attractions, getting theatre tickets, shopping for you, booking your travel or even doing secretarial services. Concierges are very versatile – they can carry out a number of job roles, ensuring that guests have an amazing ‘overall’ experience. Over the years, the Clefs d’Or concierges have honed their networks, their skills, their acquaintances (to celebrities, government officials and more) as well as their general knowledge, to ensure that travellers experience the very best when they stay at a hotel where they are based.

They can arrange introductions, set up romantic dinners and secure you front row seats at the next game or event. They are a true marvel and they use what they know together with who they know, to get you what you need.

Concierges in SA

As part of its ongoing ‘Welcome’ initiative, South African Tourism lent its support to the 5th annual Concierge Conference, which took place on 17 September 2014 in Johannesburg. This conference brought together 100 concierges from some of SA’s leading hotels to focus on the service excellence of concierges and the opportunity for concierges in SA to further develop their skills and knowledge.

For visitors to SA, concierges are usually the first point of contact in welcoming our international visitors and therefore play a vital role in building SA’s reputation as a warm and friendly destination. Our local concierges are very knowledgeable on the unique insights of South Africa, and it’s their role in the tourism industry that is vital in helping to secure ongoing hospitality and tourism business for our country.

IHS students and trainees, do you have a Society of the Golden Keys concierge at the property where you work or are carrying out Work Integrated Learning? Have you had a chance to work with any of these amazing concierges? Tell us your views in the comments section below…