Frederik Kubierschky

Concierge-Interview with Frederik Kubierschky

Tuesday, 18. July 2017 | Dominik Plüss

The work life of concierges is multifaceted and exciting. In a series of articles, the ES Magazine interviews concierges of luxury hotels.

Which hotel do you work for and how long have you been working there as a concierge?

I’m working in the Widder Hotel since the 2nd of May, 2017, so I’m just getting used to it.

Are you living your profession under a certain slogan?

My slogan is the official motto of Les Clefs d’Or: “Service through friendship”. This doesn’t only cover the friendly cooperation with other Les Clefs d’Or members but also treating hotel guests, regular guests as well as co-workers and colleagues friendly.

I always treat my guest with empathy and try to put myself in their position. How would I appreciate the help if I desperately needed something? I think, no school can help you with that. Most of the behaviors you need in life I probably learned in the kindergarten already.

In this respect, wisdom can’t always be found on the heights of educations or studies, but also in the sandcastles of our childhood’s playgrounds. This became clear to me some day. Share everything with others, play fair, don’t hurt others, put things in order again.

Widder Hotel

Can you look back on a long career as concierge? How did you get to work as a hotel concierge and vice president of Les Clefs d’Or?

Most definitely. Before working for the Widder Hotel, I was in the Atlantis by Giardino for two years and before that a whole seven years in the Park Hyatt Zurich. Therefore, I worked myself up into the position of a Head Concierge. For a concierge, the highest goal is to eventually become a member of Les Clefs d’Or, and I was no exception here. What’s important to me is the regular meetings with colleagues from all over the world to exchange experiences. This helps growing the trust between each other and I like relying on a statement by a Les Clefs d’Or Concierge even when I don’t have the time to check it myself.

Since the 2nd of May, I once again am vice president of the Les Clefs d’Or section in Zurich. Together with Jan-Luca Funck, the president, I took over the management. We value the work of our predecessors highly as they were very dedicated and we could partly sit in a well-feathered nest.

Beyond that, we want to focus on new engagements. We want to provide our members with the possibility of finding new ways how to improve their service even more. In addition, we want to strengthen the reputation of Les Clefs d’Or and adjust as good as possible to the ever-changing needs of our guests – and thus to always secure our right to exist in the digital age.

Frederik Kubierschky

Tell us about the profession of the hotel concierge. What is special about it, what connects you to this job?

What is special about our profession is that we are a daily contact person for people that have needs. We can cover these needs with our know-how. Therefore, hotel concierges can enable other people to have great experiences and share them, too.

The work environment is very extraordinary as well. We are allowed a deep insight into the life of the people that reside in 5 star-hotels without being a part of them. This is extremely interesting and sometimes, we can even participate in this lifestyle. In me, this generates a certain distance that makes me cherish my own life more. The luxury and the accompanying minor complaints ground me.

To me, what is beautiful about the job is that it fulfills me. I solve “first world problems” of my guests and have the feeling that I made a difference for someone. Exactly like a nurse is satisfied when she does something good, it’s the same for me.

Widder Guests

What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages concerning your profession?

Among the biggest advantages is certainly the international interconnectedness. I have friends all across the world that grant me special access to places or experiences that remain out of reach for most people. This interconnectedness develops through the guests and their needs and the contacts around the world that you cultivate because of that.
The disadvantages are the varicose veins and the tired knees, in other words the high physical pressure. Psychologically, I never had problems with my work. The biggest limit is almost always the time. Money is mostly irrelevant in this profession; the time is what complicates things. Other than that, you work when other people party and vice versa, most of the time. But that was never a problem to me – you learn to appreciate it quickly.

What was the most challenging task you received from a hotel guest you could execute?

I have an interesting example from the time when I was still working for Park Hyatt. When a hotel guest was browsing around in the confectionery Sprüngli at the Paradeplatz in Zurich at 7pm, he saw a lot of customers with pugs. Thus, he decided he wanted such a dog as well, immediately. As he called me, I started working at once.

We concierges grow with our challenges, we flourish when it gets complicated. Even though I asked myself at the back of my head whether it wasn’t morally objectionable to buy someone a dog just because he wants one in this particular moment, I called around a lot.

Two and a half hours later, I eventually talked to the German champion in international pug breeding. She agreed to drive a recently born pug that originally was promised to another customer to Zurich. Potential invoice: a high 5-digit amount.

In the end, I managed to talk the guest out of it, though. I realized that he only saw the dogs as an accessory that he probably would have left behind after some days, too. This wasn’t morally justifiable in my eyes; therefore, the purchase didn’t happen after all.

The legendary stories aren’t always what shapes our daily routine, however. With less spectacular actions, you often manage to make the guests happier. If for example, a customer takes the wrong black suitcase from the baggage claim, it’s essential to quickly exchange it for the right one. Although this is a basic task for a concierge, it is really important for the guest that this process takes two hours instead of two days.

Pug

Did you have any influential experiences with a special car of a guest?

I handle luxurious cars on an almost daily basis. In the Park Hyatt, I once had a guest from Dubai drive up with two Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead. Both vehicles were completely ruined due to severe damage by hail. In response to my question whether the cars were insured, the owner only answered that the insurance was only valid in Dubai. I never found out what the damages exactly resulted from and why it wasn’t repaired.

Another amusing story revolves around a Porsche GT2 RS. As an influential guest arrived at the hotel, I offered to park his car, as usual. However, the guest denied. The car had a delicate clutch made from ceramic and he preferred to park it himself. He barely parked the car when the alarm started going off and couldn’t be stopped anymore. Because the guest had to attend a meeting shortly, I took it upon myself to sort out the problem.

A call at the Porsche support center wasn’t very helpful at fist. They said that they didn’t have any employees in the area. After I told them the name of the car owner, it only took about 30 minutes for not one but three Porsche support cars to arrive. The damage was repaired immediately. This is great fun.

Porsche GT2 RS

Have you seen the movie «The Grand Budapest Hotel»? What do you think of it?

I think the movie is extremely good. It pokes fun at the concierge profession and in my daily business, humor is extremely important as well. I like that because I think that you can accomplish more in life with a little bit fun than without. Personally, I refrain from having such intimate relationships with my guests as it is pictured in the movie. This is not exercised in that fashion anymore.

However, it is absolutely possible to develop a good relationship to regular guests. You can even call this friendship, although it doesn’t contain all the traits of it. The relationship between guest and host always remains, as the guest continues to pay for a service that he receives. A friendly relationship beyond that can be problematic. Like that, concierges learn to always act with a certain amount of diplomacy. The interests of the guests are always in the foreground for concierges, even when they partially diverge from the interests of the hotel.

How do you envision the concierge profession in 50 years? What will change?

That is hard to say as everything happens so quickly nowadays. It is certain that the needs of travelers over the past years have changed extremely. For example, there are hotel chains that don’t provide phones on their rooms because everyone has a mobile anyways. For lack of internet, you didn’t know how to get from A to B in the past. Now that’s mostly over. And restaurant recommendations lose importance as well.

I think, that the global conciergerie will be thinned out. In my opinion, there will be less hotels serving a clientele that really needs a professional concierge. The few that will have, will provide even more extensive services. The focus will lie on things that can’t be googled. For example, if the guest needs a good gastroenterologist in the morning, Google won’t really be able to help.

Even though online feedbacks from TripAdvisor and Yelp are extremely important, they don’t always project a picture that fits the reality. If I can tell a familiar manager of a restaurant what my guest sets value on, he will have a completely different experience than if he would look up the restaurant number 1 on TripAdvisor and go there by himself.

The conciergerie will exist in different forms and manifest in other things. At the moment, the principle of concierges expands to luxury lifestyle service providers like AMEX Centurion and Vertu phones. In 50 years, it will be smaller and more exclusive than today.

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