The Role of the Concierge is Changing – How Should Tour Operators Adapt?

The Role of the Concierge is Changing – How Should Tour Operators Adapt?

Hotel concierges and tour operators go way back. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship – concierges refer tour and activity products to travellers, and they get paid for it.

But lately, their role is changing – and this impacts how you should partner with them.

Travellers crave local expertise

Their main reason for speaking to a concierge is to have that local on their side, giving them insider information on the area’s best kept secrets, and helping them to get around.

When concierges refer your tour or activity it’s a more credible source, simply because of the face to face referral, as opposed to a static online review.

Concierge as consultant

Before the internet came into the picture, concierges had a big influence over the travellers they came into contact with.

But with a wealth of information available online, hotel guests can easily do their own research. Most travellers will have already looked at online reviews from sites like TripAdvisor to get an idea of the top rated activities in the area.

The concierge’s role has evolved to be more about helping them to sort through their options and find the best thing specifically suited to their needs in the area.

Speaking to a concierge just helps them to figure out exactly which tour or activity is the best for their needs (eg. family friendly, easy to get to, etc).

Enter technology

There is no doubt that technology disrupts the status quo, with online services making it all too easy to replace the traditional hotel concierge. This is especially true for tech savvy millennials.

For example, travellers can use Viator to book your tour or activity, Uber to book a driver, and  OpenTable to book a restaurant.


This puts you, the tour operator, in a place of power. The fact that concierges have less influence over guests’ bookings means you can set lower commission rates.

However, technology can also help concierges do their jobs better.

Some examples:

1) Navigator

Marriott International’s Renaissance Hotels mix the personal touch of the concierge with top of the line technology.

Their global hospitality program called Navigator can be used on site, online and via mobile. It provides local recommendations about food, spirits, shopping, music, entertainment, and culture.

2) Agent Desk

Booking software like Rezdy have an Agent Desk which facilitates the booking process for hotel concierges. Not only can concierges search for and lock in bookings within a few clicks, but commission is guaranteed because referrals are tracked through the system.

How can tour operators work with concierges?

Like everything technology touches, it’s not doing away with the way things used to be – it’s simply enhancing the process, and making the experience for both concierges and tourists even better.

So how can you adapt? It’s simple: know what concierges want. At the very core of all they do, concierges seek to delight their guests.

And their guests want…

1) Something everyone else wants

Today’s travellers want unique experiences their friends can’t easily find, aren’t readily available on the internet and few know of.

Concierges want to inspire them to do something fun with their day, and give them a couple of choices that suit their needs.

To stand out, create a unique, high-value package that’s only available to a select number of agents. This gives concierges a unique selling point, and the fact that it’s a high value product is attractive to them because they get more commission.

2) Excellent tour

Feedback about your tour is definitely going to get back to your hotel concierge.

Since they’re recommending your tour or activity, they want to make sure that their customer has nothing short of an amazing time. If they get feedback that the experience was bad, they will probably not recommend you in the future, because it makes them look bad.

Show your concierges reviews made by your past customers to back up your claims. Encourage them to share these with their customers. This shows the family or adventurous couple that other people like them enjoyed your tour or activity.

Also, if your concierge receives negative feedback, they will at least see that most of your customers have only good things to say.

3) Ease of booking

Concierges want the ease of booking at any time, even if you aren’t available. It can be hard trying to get through to you over the phone just to check whether something is available, especially if you’re busy and they have a guest waiting on your answer.

Give your concierges an easy way to book with you through an automated online booking software like Rezdy. That way you don’t even have to take their call – they can easily log in to check availability and lock in a booking.

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