The Insider - Gerardo Gabat

21 April 2015

Since 1995, Gerardo Gabat has served in various senior guest-relations positions in the Philippines and Dubai. A member of Les Clefs D’Or, he is currently chief concierge at the Kempisnki Hotel Mall of the Emirates, where he has garnered a number of awards, including Hotelier Middle East’s Concierge of the Year.

Personal service remains at the forefront of providing a luxury experience, as a guest to a luxury hotel tends to be more demanding and certain of what they want and expect. It is essential for a concierge to keep in mind that guests in the luxury hospitality market increasingly have higher demands, as well as an expectation that they will receive an experience that is above average and more personalised.

Personally tailored services are one way that we can give the luxury traveller that extraordinary experience with an element of surprise that goes above and beyond their expectations.

As a concierge, it is essential to understand the guest profile, history, lifestyle and interests in order to serve them in a unique and personal way.

We regularly coordinate with the guest-relations team, as well as other departments within the hotel, to provide personalised services from various angles. We have endeavoured to provide personalised experiences across the board, from our new iPad and TV systems in the guest rooms, to coordinating extra details for special occasions in our restaurants or within the room.

I also remind my team that simple gestures go a long way. It is important to always look for opportunities to go that extra mile with every guest request, even if it is as simple as handling special arrangements for a local excursion, or arranging an extra stop during a transfer of the guest to the airport to experience something outside of the norm.

Knowledge is prime

In order to deliver exceptional guest experiences, knowledge is of prime importance for the concierge; knowledge of what guests need prior to their arrival, during their stay, and after they leave; knowledge of products and services within the property as well as what is available in the market. All of this knowledge is critical in order to provide various options to the guests once their needs are ascertained.

Passion for excellence is also important. Passion to be the best you can be, to keep yourself updated, to constantly hone your knowledge and skills in guest service, and to keep your knowledge of the city relevant. Passion for delivering exceptional and memorable experiences through creative means, by thinking out of the box, doing something more in order to delight guests, is essential. Additionally, the ability to make a connection with every guest, regardless of language, background, age and culture is very important, especially in a city like Dubai. An excellent concierge needs to have excellent interpersonal skills in order to relate positively with a diverse set of guests, make that special connection and build trust.

The human touch

Fundamentally, the concierge's role is all about the human element; it is about how you make the guest feel welcomed and cared for. As advanced as technology is these days, and as useful as it is in the hospitality industry and the functions of the concierge, an IT system does not provide that human connection. The presence of the concierge is essential in order to create the personalised service that is a key differentiator in the experience factor.

People are becoming increasingly aware of the diversity that a concierge team can provide. There has been an increase in the number of companies offering concierge services. This is indicative of the fact that luxury guests are more dependent on concierge services than ever before to arrange everything from tours to restaurant bookings and transfer requirements prior to their arrival. Regardless of the purpose of their visit, luxury travellers want to save time and have an exceptional experience. The role of the concierge will continue to evolve and become more complex as the luxury traveller's needs continue to develop in this day and age.

In the future, hotels will invest in more technological advancements to stay ahead of the competition, and I acknowledge that this is inevitable. But then again, that human element is also as important as these technologies, and will never be replaced. I believe that people will always want a human opinion and interaction when travelling and experiencing something outside of their comfort zone, rather than relying solely on a computer responding to their queries.

Concierge of the year: Gerardo Gabat.

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