They know all the insider tips of the city, they can get tickets for the sold-out Champions League Final, they are attentive listeners and take the oath of secrecy even more seriously than a Catholic priest does the seal of confession: the hotel concierges.
Always impeccably attired, the ladies and gentlemen receptionists of high-class hotels have irreproachable manners and unflappable serenity, even in the face of the strangest of requests. As discrete fulfillers of wishes they use their contacts to get a table at a fully booked restaurant or entry to the club with the toughest door in town.
The best of these passionate hosts are easily recognised by two crossed golden keys on their lapel identifying them as members of the Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels Les Clefs d’Or (U.I.C.H.). To become a member of this illustrious organisation, applicants must have excellent training at high-class hotels, many years of experience and be recommended by established members. They must know their city like the back of their hand and have the best of contacts. All these requirements fulfilled, they then have to successfully pass a probationary period before being awarded “The Golden Keys”.
The German association of distinguished hotel concierges, Die Goldenen Schlüssel Deutschland e.V., met in Munich in August 2018 for their 34th National Conference. The Munich section has 30 active members at 12 hotels (out of 31 members at 13 hotels in the State of Bavaria), and as such is the second largest section in Germany. Jochen Ehmann, then Section Leader in Bavaria, drafted a programme along with the other Munich members that showed the city at its best.
By assuming the patronage of the conference, the city of Munich emphasised how important the concierges are for the hotel and tourism industry in the Isar metropolis. After all, they have a common goal: To give guests from Germany and around the world a second home in Munich to which they gladly return.
Roughly 130 conference delegates had the opportunity of getting to know some of the most beautiful and inspiring locations in Munich, to exchange information, network and attend courses – from the advisory board meeting at the Platzl Hotel and the gala evening at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski to the get-together at the BMW Welt through to the general meeting at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost and aftershow parties at the Roomers or the P1 nightclub. The concierges also savoured Munich hospitality over lunch at the Brenner Grill restaurant and during the Bavarian evening at the Augustiner Keller. The farewell brunch was served at the Zum Franziskaner restaurant.
The excursion programme took the guests to the alpine lake region of Tegernsee-Schliersee, including whisky tasting at the Slyrs Bavarian Single Malt Whisky distillery and a cable car ride up the Wendelstein mountain. The Munich Convention Bureau also organised a guided tour of the New Town Hall tower and gave away gingerbread hearts decorated with golden keys as well as “simply Munich” lanyards.
With their know-how and recommendations, hotel concierges are important brand ambassadors of their city who ensure that each guest leaves with unforgettable experiences and a desire to return. Even though nowadays most guests have already checked out the insider tips and highlights online prior to their arrival, the internet can never replace the personal touch of individual attention. The conference participants in Munich were shown by actor and coach, Thomas L. Dietz, how important the effect is of even small gestures, facial expressions and posture.
Thomas Munko, the re-elected president of the German association, summed up the successful event as follows: “The 34th National Conference of our association in August was the indisputable highlight of the year. On behalf of all the members I would like once again to express my sincerest gratitude to Jochen Ehmann and his team, as well as all friends and partners, for this excellent meeting in Munich.”