This month, we strolled on down to our partnering hotel, The Westin Galleria, to speak with the lead (and one and only) concierge, Susan Tilley. Not only is she one of a few concierges to earn the highest honor of Les Clefs d’Or, she is also the recipient of the 2017 Silver Plume Concierge of The Year Award. Let’s dive in shall we?
How long have you been a concierge?
I’ve been a concierge for 11 years. I grew up in Tyler, TX and got my hospitality management degree from UNT. After that, I started my hospitality career here [at the Westin Galleria] working the front desk. I was there 6 months when the current concierge moved to a different property so I put my hat in the ring and the rest is history.
How did you decide you wanted to be a concierge?
When I was in middle school, my family visited Hotel del Coronado. They had a female concierge and she was AWESOME. She booked us on a boat ride and even set up a meet & greet with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Britney Spears! From then on I wanted to make hotel guest’s wishes come true as she did for me and my sisters.
How many people do you service a day?
Between emails from group contacts, phone calls, and physical guests I would say approximately 100 per day but those can range anywhere from a simple restaurant reservation to a special in-room request. Each guest that comes is considered a part of our family and it’s great when they consider us part of theirs to make that special day or moment for someone else.
What does the pin with the two keys intersected represent?
Les Clefs d’Or (pronounced LAY-CLAY-DOOR) is French and literally translates to “keys of gold.” The crossed gold keys represent an experienced concierge, one who’s dedicated to providing excellent service to all. There are 7 concierges in the DFW metroplex that have achieved Les Clefs d’Or status , 600+ in USA and over 4,000 in the world. I am excited to attend my first USA Les Clef’s d’Or Congress in Washington DC this year with all the other great concierges throughout the world.
How does one apply to receive the honor of the keys?
In order to apply you must be a full-time hotel concierge for at least 5 years, 21 years of age, of good moral character, and active within the concierge community. Then, there is a very tedious application period which takes about three months. Once an application is in good standing and your hotel representative speaks with the LCD association (on your behalf), an exam is sent. I would personally describe it as a 3 week long scavenger hunt around the world. Each question is so unique and offers opportunities to reach out and begin building new international relationships. Once the exam is in good standing, then the association “shops” you for three months to make sure you are personable on the phone, email, in person and up to LCD standards. Think of it in terms of a “secret shopper” where you think they’re a guest and not someone from the organization sent to vet you out. It’s extremely tough but entertaining and definitely worth the work.
What are some “tricks of the trade” that you’ve learned over time whether behind the scenes or useful knowledge for customers?
Be genuine….people can tell if you are fake. I have learned to sincerely make friends with owners, managers & hostesses of restaurants or venues. When you are in a tough spot or need to get a guest a reservation for a sold out event or Valentine’s Day—they will have your back!
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I love to pamper myself once a month with a pedicure or massage. I have been a regular at Galleria Nail Spa for 10 years!
What is one thing you wish you could change about being a concierge?
As a concierge it is all about building relationships, so I wish the concierge was used more as a service for guests. Now with Uber and OpenTable there is not as much personal interaction with hotel guests and I’m a big people person. If you’re ever in the area or staying at the Westin Galleria Dallas please feel free to swing by the lobby and say hi.
Congratulations to Susan for not only being one of few to earn her Clefs d’Or but for also winning concierge of the year at the 2017 Silver Plume Awards. You can see her full bio here or just swing on by The Westin Galleria and say hi!