Secrets of a Concierge

Behind every great hotel is an attentive and discreet concierge. Here in BuckHaven, we are graced with gleaming hotels and poised concierges. Meet Janice Dempsey, who stands at attention with a warm smile and all the answers at the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta. She is a member of The Concierge Society of Atlanta and Les Clefs d’Or Ltd. “As a concierge it is our responsibility to take ownership, help those in need and hopefully have a great and positive outcome. As professionals and ‘keeper of the keys’ we have to be committed, resourceful and interested to assist in the almost impossible. The result is an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and pride to have risen up to the challenges,” she explains. Ms. Dempsey asked her fellow concierges to share some of their more memorable requests from guests. We aren’t going to share the names of the concierges or their hotels, because we are good at keeping secrets, too.

I suppose the most unusual request was from an elderly couple about three years ago. While at my concierge desk, I received a phone call from a couple who were traveling from Alabama and was already stuck in our Atlanta traffic. The wife had panic in her voice and asked if I could assist. It seems the couple had left home without any spare colostomy bags for the husband and they were needed as they would be in town for several days. Sure, no problem I responded! I called the local pharmacy, then another, then another without success. Now, I’m starting to panic- I’ve really have got to help these people. So I called a urologist, they informed me that the guest will have to make an appointment or go to the hospital. Ok-NO. So I then started thinking hospital, hospital…bing…maybe Shepard Spinal Center and Hospital might be able to help. So I called and the gift shop said SURE no problem, have them come in. So I was able to assist the guest and needless to say they were very thankful and appreciative. That was a tough one!

A guest walked up to the concierge desk at 3:30 p.m. asking me to make her a hair appointment for a color, cut and style before she attended a wedding that same afternoon. I called around and was lucky to find her an appointment for 5:15. When I informed her about the appointment time, she said that that was too late because the buses were leaving at 5:00 for the wedding – in an hour and a half from when she first spoke with me.  I guess she assumed the stylist could do a color, cut and style in less than an hour! The salons in her hometown work fast! I tried!

A long time ago I was asked for directions to a shoe show. Needing a little more direction on the request, I asked what kind of shoe show.  He said a “pretty lady shoe show.”  I eventually figured out he was looking for a Gentleman’s Club.  Apparently, many years ago in some parts of the south, Gentlemen’s Clubs were delicately referred to as “shoe shows.”

A guest called me to his room, gave me $500 and asked me to go buy underwear for him and his wife.  Their island vacation plans had been temporarily postponed due to a hurricane. Their luggage was lost and they planned to not leave their room and dress only in underwear until the weather cleared. It took three days. Underwear $200, gratuity $300. I love days like that.

Last year I had a guest that called me and said he was proposing to his girlfriend and wanted to do something special. After questioning him about their background and his wishes, he confessed she missed living in Atlanta and we both started brainstorming. He asked if I could find fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts – 12 dozen of them. He gave the ring to hide in one of the boxes then asked if I could get 50 assortments of Chick fil A meals, with Frosted Orange from The Varsity for a toast, instead of champagne. We set a time and I added a little extra love and set up a special spot in the restaurant for them, adding champagne. To me, the idea did not seem special, but once I saw her face and understood how he really was saying “I love you” with all the things that help make Atlanta special, I got it. She said “yes,” then also made a promise to come back to live here one day soon.