Before explaining the origins of concierge services, the most difficult thing about the word ‘concierge’ is how to spell it. You’d be surprised by how many people spell it ‘conceirge’, ‘concierege’, ‘conciege’, or the even more elaborate ‘concerierge’. It may be helpful to remember that the correct spelling – C.O.N.C.I.E.R.G.E. – is one of the thousands of words that disprove the received wisdom of “i before e except after c” (others include a deficient species of ancient scientists)!
The word ‘concierge’ probably originates in Latin from the word ‘conservus’ which means ‘fellow slave’. The modern meaning of the word comes from 16th century France where it translates as ‘keeper of the keys’ and came to mean the warden of a property – whether that was a castle, a palace or a house. The concierge would look after guests, unlocking their rooms, lighting candles and making sure everyone had everything they needed.
By the 18th century, the concept of the concierge had spread across Europe, and there were concierges in government offices and even prisons! With the advent of mass travel in the 19th and 20th centuries, hotels, steamships and train companies began to employ concierges to look after their guests’ needs, give them tourism advice, make restaurant reservations, book tickets, etc.
You could argue that all concierge services are luxuries, but in the 21st century, the concept of a luxury concierge service has taken things to the next level. No longer a service that just saves people time, luxury concierges offer services that most people would never be able to organise on their own. With their extensive networks of contacts, luxury concierges can do almost anything, from getting clients access to even the most exclusive of red carpet events or booking a last-minute table in the most popular, fully booked restaurants, to organising a party on a superyacht or getting a private jet to anywhere in the world.
A luxury concierge will provide an invaluable, white-glove service, thanks to their ability to make things happen on your behalf.
Some upscale hotels are now introducing virtual and robotic concierge services. Lobbies and reception areas use interactive screens, and robots are beginning to take over room service delivery as well as the roles of receptionists and even bartenders. This is seen as a service that is ideal for handling simple requests, however, the luxury concierge service will always require the human touch in order to successfully provide the kind of professional, bespoke service that no amount of AI programming will ever be able to do.