Concierge – the word is French meaning “keeper of the keys” and during the Middle Ages, the Concierges were the keeper of the keys. Between the 5th and 15th centuries, they served the families of kings, and when castles across Europe hosted visiting aristocrats, the Concierge kept the keys to the rooms inside the castle and made sure the guests were comfortable and had everything they needed during their stay.
The main goal of today’s modern Concierges is to meet the needs and demands of their clients and customers, and they will do anything to achieve that goal as long as the request is legal. While being a concierge is fun, it’s not easy. Concierges are largely responsible for ensuring things flow as seamlessly as possible; they work tirelessly to deliver personalized services and improve guest experiences in a variety of industries, from healthcare to hospitality, and they have a broad range of functions and responsibilities but fundamentally their role is to offer an extra hand to guests during their stay by answering questions, offering recommendations, running errands, handling unexpected emergencies, assisting with dinner reservations, acquiring tickets for local attractions, and facilitating with tours, travel, and transport. In today’s fast-paced world, concierge services go far beyond the typical and traditional requests to carrying out the unusual and extreme requests 24/7, searching for hard-to-find items, and making the impossible possible.
In this people-pleasing business, it takes passion, attention to detail, dedication, flexibility, and a sincere commitment to be willing to go that extra mile to provide the best possible service. Concierges must be knowledgeable about the venue and the city where they work to give over-the-top customer service.
One Call Does it All
Whether it’s your first time or your fifth time to Vegas, the best thing vacation and business travelers can do to make their trip convenient is to hire a qualified, personal concierge service before or after arrival so you do not have to waste your valuable time trying to get the things you need while you’re in town. While hotels provide in-house concierge services, the convenience of a personal concierge is unparalleled. These lifestyle managers, often referred to as “wish granters,” assist their clients on a personal level; they can get things done that you can’t, can make things happen faster than you, and can provide a wide variety of services to simplify your life.
A Day in the Life of a Concierge
Long-time Las Vegas resident and personal Concierge, Leah Koza, who started Las Vegas-based “Beck n’ Call Concierge Services” and an “Extra Hand”, will explain the importance of a Concierge and share her experience and expertise, personal stories, and dirty little secrets that go from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Do clients have to be wealthy to hire a Concierge?
Not at all, clients just have to need or want something that they don’t know where to find or don’t feel like getting themselves. One caveat, the need or desire must be legal and ethical. As a jumping off point, starting prices have been established at $50.00 for a simple one-stop type of service, $65.00 if it’s a rush (within one hour; if possible), and $75.00 per hour for more complex needs.
For example, I had a client who had a cold and he needed some cold medicine but did not feel like leaving his room. He said he needed it “right away.” The cost was $65.00 for rush service plus the cost of the cold medicine. This guy was not rich but had no problem paying for the convenience.
What types of services do your clients ask for?
Everything, but again, as long as the request is legal and ethical. It can be as simple as picking up a toothbrush, adult toys, flower arrangements, prescriptions, beverages, drive-thru fast food orders and groceries, to setting up and decorating a room for a birthday, anniversary, bachelorette party to personal shopping, walking your Mom to a show, meeting your private plane, walking you and your guest to your limo, taking your family on a tour of Las Vegas or Los Angeles or any other place you might want to see — and the list goes on. My motto is always, “The Answer is YES, what is the REQUEST?” My goal is to make your visit to our fabulous city of Las Vegas a memorable one!
Please describe a time you went above and beyond the expectations of a concierge to meet the needs of a guest?
I always go above and beyond. As a concierge and personal assistant, I try to anticipate the need before it’s a need. Being a stickler for details and having a mind that over-thinks, so my friends tell me, I feel that exceeding the expectation is actually, “nailing it”. Nothing makes me happier than to see a client who is pleased with what I’ve anticipated and suggested.
Guests often ask Concierges how to spend their free time. What recommendations would you suggest?
Wow, that is a loaded question. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love to talk. So that I don’t overwhelm the client, and that is easy to do because Las Vegas is a city with so much to offer, I ask questions to narrow it down. This is where I am a little different. If I’m being honest, I’m very different from the cookie-cutter concierge, and since I’m not affiliated with a property, I can offer the client ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.
As a personal concierge my loyalty is to my client, not a specific property. Let me get myself out of hot water here. When you work for a specific property, you are required to let the guest know about their shows, restaurants, attractions, etc., but being an independent, I can offer anything and everything no matter where it is. So, assuming I know a little about you, whether this is your first time to Vegas or your third time, your budget, what you like to do and so forth, I might suggest a private city tour. Las Vegas is ever-changing so chances are you will see something new even if you’ve taken a city tour before. We could hire a car and start by going to the most photographed sign in the world; the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign for a photo op, then head north on Las Vegas Blvd a.k.a. “The Strip” and I would provide a brief history of the city with some amazing facts. For example, did you know that Las Vegas is in Clark County and Clark County is larger than the state of New Jersey? I will point out that at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana, those four corners have more rooms than the entire city of Manhattan. The large bronze Lion statue at MGM is the largest bronze in the USA, and it is a replacement for the first statue when the hotel opened. The way the original one was designed, people felt like they were walking through the mouth of the lion which was considered bad luck. However, you actually walked through the legs of the lion but it was so offensive to our international visitors that MGM decided to absorb the astronomical expense and replace it.
We will talk about “Bugsy” (Benjamin Siegel). He hated the nickname Bugsy by the way, he was given that because he was small like a bug. I’ll talk about the Venetian Resort, one of the largest properties in the world. Of course, shopping is pointed out along the way so if you want to stop and shop, you just have to ask. That is the beauty of a private tour from my company, it’s your day your way and we do what you want. We start you off and then you take your lead. I love to suggest a “snickety-snack” at either Bouchon Bakery or Buddy V’s Bakery – both have some of the best pastries in the City.
But if you’d rather have lunch, I might suggest the legendary Peppermill Restaurant on The Strip, point out that this Las Vegas staple of nearly 50 years was showcased in the movie, Casino. Or I could introduce you to the most flavorful street tacos at Taco del Gordo, direct from Mexico – lines are long but the wait is worth it. If my clients want a mouthwatering craft burger and a milkshake that is truly a work of art and a meal in itself, Black Tap at the Venetian is the place. If they can harness their appetite until we reach Downtown Las Vegas, there are some fabulous eateries or perhaps an original Coney Dog at The D Hotel, direct from “Motor City.”
Once Downtown, if they like pawn shops, a stop at the famous Pawn Stars is always a fun experience or zip-lining down the iconic Fremont Street, or a 5-star Segway Tour to see all the amazing murals that have been painted each year during the “Life is Beautiful” festival. The Mob Museum and the Neon Museum are must-stops. On the way back up The Strip, if they are curious about our dispensaries, there seems to be one on every corner these days, I would suggest Planet 13, the world’s largest cannabis dispensary which is a destination in and of itself as well as the Déjà Vu Love Boutique. There you will find things you never knew existed.
After the tour, it’s time to freshen up and get dressed for dinner. If you want to eat where the locals eat, and if it’s Wednesday through Sunday, I always suggest the Italian American Club, it’s like stepping back in time to “Old Vegas”. The food is incredible and reasonably priced, and you never know which local entertainer you might see. If it’s a Monday, I will suggest a nightcap at Bootlegger Italian Bistro specializing in southern Italian dishes in an old-world setting. It’s open mic night starting at 9:00 p.m. and many of the Las Vegas talent will stop by after their show and do a number or two – truly a local insider tip.
Share an experience you had in dealing with a challenging or interest person(s)?
Two stories stand out, both are royal families but not from the same country.
I met with the handler of the Princess. I’m briefed as to the standards – I am not to speak until spoken to, I must walk a few steps behind her, and always address her as “Princess.” She can do what she wants, I just need to “be” at all times. I am told to sit in the VIP lobby and wait for her and I am not to leave for any reason, not even to use the restroom!!
Nearly 45 minutes later, I am told Princess is on her way down to the lobby with her friend. I am standing at attention when she approaches. She greets me and tells me she wants to walk the hotel, shop, and then get lunch. I respond, “Yes Princess.” As we depart the VIP lobby, she turns around and says, “Leah!”
“I want that chandelier” as she points upwards. I explain that chandelier was specially designed and made for the owner of the hotel. “Leah!”
“Did I ask you that?”
“I want that in my room when we return.”
“Yes Princess.” I call the Head Concierge and explain the situation. “It’s Leah, I’m with Princess and she wants the chandelier that is located in the lobby.”
“Leah, that was specially made for the owner of the hotel.” I explain that I was aware and made Princess aware but she told me that she didn’t ask me that and she wants it in her room by the time she returns.”
As we proceed, we pass by a closed restaurant. “Leah.”
“I wish to eat there.”
“Princess, that restaurant is not open yet.”
“Yes Princess, I will check, please wait here.” (I’m praying she doesn’t dart off as I run into the restaurant). I see an employee inside and quickly explain who I am and whom I’m with. (The entire hotel is on alert that this Royal family is in residence). The employee tells me there are no cooks or managers on duty so she is not able to open the restaurant. Dreading that I have to deliver this news to the Princess, much to my surprise, once I explain the situation to her, she was fine with it. All I kept thinking was that I dodged a big fat bullet.
We proceed with her shopping spree, which by the way, within a matter of minutes she dropped 50K. As I am trying to keep an eye on her while juggling several shopping bags, she sees the buffet. “Leah.”
“Is that a restaurant?” All I kept thinking was please nooooooooo, tell me this Princess does not want to eat at a buffet.
“Yes, Princess, but it’s a buffet.”
“What is that?” I explain.
“Ok, Leah, we will go there.” I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach as I walk up to the head of the VIP Line to explain who I’m with. We were escorted in immediately and Princess and her friend are seated in a booth. Two minutes pass and I hear her call, “Leah.”
(I need to stay close in case she wants something but I am trying to remain out of sight. I am standing behind a pillar with all her bags in a chair).
“When will I be serviced?”
“Princess, this is a buffet — a self-serve dining experience. You do not get served; you serve yourself.” She insists that I walk with her so I grab all her shopping bags and walk her up to the buffet. I point to dishes and explain that she takes a dish and walks along all the different stations and helps herself to whatever she wants, and as much as she wants.
“Oh, this will be fun, you may leave now.”
“Yes, Princess, but before I leave tell me what you would like to drink and I will make arrangements.”
As she is getting her food, I go into the service station and tell the wait staff who she is and that they must be attentive and cater to her every whim. I resume my position – hiding behind the pole – but keeping a very close eye on her Highness. After they finish eating, about five minutes pass and no one is coming to clean their plates off the table. I hear, “Leah.”
“When are these going to disappear?”
“I’m sorry Princess, allow me.”
By the way, the chandelier was in Princesses room by the time she returned!!
Needless to say, it was a long afternoon! Later that day when she returned to her room, I decided I could not keep this up for an entire week. I meet the handler and made an excuse that I would not be able to come back. He asked if Princess had been rude to me and, of course, I said no and explained that something personal came up. (That something personal that had come up was me protecting my sanity). Every day for the next three days they called and begged me to return at any cost because the Princess liked me, but I begged her/their forgiveness and refused.
Another interesting event – I was sent to meet royal newlyweds whose private plane was coming from L.A. I meet them on the tarmac in an Escalade per their request. Let me tell you major red tape to get on the Tarmac, but this couple refused to walk into the terminal. That should have been my first clue. I’m hired for a week to be at their beck and call. The hotel where they are staying calls to tell me to “stall” – their suite is not ready. I ask the couple if they would like a photo op at the world-famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Fortunately, they do. I ask how they would like to be greeted. The husband says by his first name, and wifey tells me by her surname. When we finish at the sign, I regrettably explain that that hotel has just notified me that they are running behind schedule so would they like a tour of The Strip with an opportunity to shop at some of our unique stores. Mrs. X thought that was a “splendid” idea. But the shopping she wanted to do was not what I expected from “you can call me by my surname!” I told her about all the incredible stores inside Caesars Forum Shoppes but she wanted to go to an adult store (why me), so I turned the vehicle in the direction of the Love Boutique. In our 30 minute sojourn, she manages to spend $2,000. Next stop, Sephora. She tells me to grab four baskets, she has two and I have two. In less than 15 minutes, she drops $10,000. Ten thousand dollars in Sephora! Seriously?! She gave me all her “Sephora Points” because her country doesn’t have Sephora – silver lining. Since the shopping spree is now over, we head to the hotel. As we depart from the car, executives are waiting for us outside with keys to their suite. Her husband tells me the car is unacceptable because the seat in the back is not a bench and they want to sit close, that this is a car for “poor people” and he insists on a Rolls. “Please have it by the time we are ready to go to dinner,” he demands.
At this particular time, there are no Rolls available for rent but we were able to find someone who owned one and thankfully he was willing to rent it out. By the end of the stay, the car rental was more than their entire hotel stay.
While I waited for them (they were always at least one hour late), I did my errands in a Rolls, thinking life can be sweet sometimes. Day two, now she wants to go shopping at Caesars Forum. The challenge is that the husband hates shopping. So, when his wife finished her purchases in one store, he would come in and throw money on the counter to pay for the items and then walk out. I beg the clerk to please hurry ringing everything up otherwise I would have to run all over the crowded mall trying to find them. They would never wait or tell me where they were going and that was stressful, to say the least.
That evening, they order room service and afterward they request that I escort them to Encore Beach Club. I find out that the Vice President of the United States is staying at that hotel so the hotel will be locked down. I call the bride and groom and explain the situation and beg them not to be late as the hotel will be on lockdown for about an hour. They assure me they will be on time. NOT!! The hotel is now in lockdown mode and Secret Service is everywhere. Mr. and Mrs. X finally show up in the lobby. “We are ready to go.”
I apologize and explain the current situation, that the hotel is waiting for the arrival of the Vice President. “No, you don’t understand, we want to leave NOW!” I explain that this is not possible. Hubby says, “NO! You go talk to someone, tell them who we are and we that we want to leave!”
“Of course.” I walk outside to a Secret Service agent who is facing the front door of the hotel and explain my situation. I beg him to over-animate and act like he is yelling at me. He obliged. He was pointing at me, bobbing his head and flailing his arms. I go back to my newlyweds who have just witnessed this whole thing and politely tell them Secret Service doesn’t care who they are, where they’re from, or where they are going. The Vice President is second in command of our Country and they will just have to be patient and wait.
Within an hour, I was able to escort them to a table at the beach club. I assumed my usual position of hiding behind a pole so that when Mrs. X came out of the pool and lifted her leg, I knew it was time for me to dry her feet. I was happy to, just for that service that particular evening, it was a charge of $100.00 per hour, including wait time. How could you not love that job!!
How do you deal with intoxicated clients?
In my over 20 years doing this, I cannot say I have had an issue with this. Some tipsy clients but nothing too big that I wasn’t able to handle it. In the event a call is received and the client is intoxicated, I would just explain that my schedule is booked and if they like they can call back the following day.
What is the craziest request you have ever received?
So many to choose from…I will give you a few. When I first started in this business, I can remember my first request was for adult items. I was in a Home Depot when the call came in, picking up tools for a guest. I remember looking at my phone and then asked, “What did you just say?” The client was very specific with their needs and the list was extremely long. Being the professional that I am, I wrote down all the details — sizes, colors, shapes, etc. Most of the items I had never heard of. I head over to the Love Boutique, dressed in my suit and heels, go up to the register, introduce myself, and proudly explain that I am a concierge and I need to fill a client’s request. I show the clerk my notebook with everything written out in detail and request assistance. OMG, my first ever nightmare is real. The clerk, in a very loud, high-pitched voice yells across the store, “Hey Joe, can you get this lady out, she needs an 8” doubleheader in glass.” Dying a thousand deaths would have been easier. I have never been so embarrassed in my life!
Similar situation years later, on Super Bowl Sunday, I walk into the Love Boutique and the checkout line is packed. The cashier looks up and says, “Hi Leah, how are you doing today?” Of course, everyone in line looks at me – I can only imagine what they’re thinking — she must be a regular!
Or every time another “Hangover” movie comes out, I get asked for whatever animal they have in the movie. I try to explain to clients that I will never get past security when I walk in with a Giraffe, but when clients don’t believe me, I bring them life-size stuffed animals.
Last New Year’s Eve, a secretary needed to arrange a limo with snacks for her boss. I explained to her that after 6:00 p.m. on NYE, the hotels will only allow their guests in so I would not be able to go to the different restaurants for all the snacks she needed. I said that I could purchase snacks at some of the local restaurants and bring them to the limo, but they would be cold snacks. She asked, “Don’t they have microwave ovens in limos?” This secretary was worldly, she was from L.A. and in the movie industry so I was a bit surprised that she made such an assumption. I kiddingly said, “Oh Miss, the drivers would be too worried that the passengers might get too crazy and stick their head in them”. Her reply, “Oh, I guess that makes sense”. I’m so happy that I’m on the phone with her and not in person because my eyes rolled to the back of my head. I go on to suggest that I could bring chips and dips and make snack bags for each person that would include cheese, crackers, nuts, chips, and a “hangover kit” for later that night. She refused to believe that I cannot get food from the hotel restaurants after 6:00 p.m. on NYE. She says she knows for a fact that this can be done because (wait for it…), she saw Oceans 11 and she knows we have tunnels in Vegas and we can use them if we need to. I was so caught off guard I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud. All I could say was, “I’m sorry, we don’t have access to the tunnels they create in Hollywood”.
What is the most unreasonable request?
Occasionally people think prostitution is legal in Vegas, it is not, and we just explain that we do not offer that service, but let them know it is legal in Pahrump, NV, about 90 miles west of the city if they are really that interested.
More often requests come in that they need it NOW! Like a request for Spanx during award season, and the size 2 ladies are in a panic and call about 10 minutes before they are getting into their limo. Impossible, even if we are at the mall, it would still take at least 30 minutes on a good day to get to where they are with all the traffic. We don’t hang out in the malls and I don’t keep extra Spanx in my car. I do feel terrible that I can’t assist, but it never fails it’s always for a person who is an XX small, so honestly, do they really need a Spanx?
What funny stories can you share?
Not funny, but different. It’s Friday, 7:25 p.m. and I just arrive at the restaurant to have dinner with a friend when I receive a call from one of the hotel properties. They have a client who would like me to take their suit to New York City to be tailored. “Sure. When?”
“NOW!” My friend, who is in the same business, completely understands that I have to bail on her. I run to the hotel, pick up the client’s suit, run home, get my overnight bag that is always packed and ready to go, and head to the airport to catch my redeye. I arrive in NYC, grab a taxi, eat breakfast, wait for the tailor to open and drop off the suit. The tailor knows this client well (very high profile). I get on the next plane back to Vegas. We have outstanding tailors in Vegas, but who’s to argue, I was in NYC for the day. Did I mention how much I love my job?!
This is kind of funny; and it’s very early in my concierge career. I receive a call from an elderly lady with a jumpy, crackling voice. She explains that her grandson was going to be in Vegas at one of the major properties to celebrate his 21st birthday and she wanted to send him a gift and could I assist. I told her I would be happy to and figured it was a cake and some beer — easy breezy. I should be so lucky. Actually, she wanted me to find an inflated blow-up doll will all functioning orifices. I am to take it to the hotel and give it to the floral department so they can add flowers to the “proper parts.” I thought surely, she was kidding. I try to change her mind by letting her know that this was going to be a very costly endeavor. She said money was no object and to please include a card that says, “Granny is watching.” I told her to consider it done but now I have to figure out how to get this doll into the hotel discreetly. The reason it has to be blown up is that the floral department is not allowed to blow it up. So, I purchased it, sat in my car in the underground parking garage, blew it up, then draped it with a sheet that I brought from home and carried into the hotel. It looked like I was carrying a dead body because I covered it from head to toe – I couldn’t have anyone finding out it was a blow-up doll. What an “interesting” Granny, I’m sure that killed the grandson’s buzz all weekend.
What is your client demographic – corporate – celebrities?
Both, plus the average family, Royals, all genres, 21 – 100.
Do clients call you at all hours of the day/night?
Yes, our service is 24/7. Depending on what is going on in the city depends on how frequently the calls come in. If it’s during our peak convention season, we receive many calls very early in the morning to assist with getting boxes to the convention center. People who are not familiar with Vegas think everything is close and easily accessible, and for the most part it is, unless there is traffic and there’s always traffic in Vegas. But it can be very difficult to get 30 boxes from the client’s hotel to the convention center especially if those boxes have been delivered to the wrong property.
Award season means many runs to the mall. This is normally for talent. I remember once we picked up 30 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes, it was for an upcoming star. She couldn’t decide. After she finally picked one, we had to take all the rest back to the store.
Our Royals are party people and they start their day around 10:00 p.m., even the children. They like to come during our summer months or when there is a major fight or event in town. They ask for lots of Pedialyte and Gatorade on Sunday mornings after a night of clubbing. We take care of the families all day. International guests love to order their food late at night.
Room décor, holiday tree set-up, and hospitality suites are normally done before checking-in and the best way to do this is to put my name on the guest’s room so I can check in early, set up, and get out before they arrive. Of course, this depends on if the hotel is sold out the night before.
Las Vegas is known as “Sin City” and many people are under the impression that anything goes in Vegas. Has anyone ever asked for something illegal and/or risqué?
You bet-cha. I explain that I am happy to assist if it’s legal.
In addition to running errands and making arrangements for show tickets and attractions, do you offer dog-walking and babysitting services?
Babysitting services no but I point out a couple of other companies who do. There have been a few times when the Royals have asked me to entertain their teenage children by taking them shopping which I will do, however, I get strict guidelines and the children are present when I’m getting them so there are no questions.
I once met with a family, and in less than 10 minutes, the father handed me $10,000 in cash for his 4 boys. He said they could buy anything they wanted as long as no one item was over $200. As soon as we got to the mall, I immediately lost the two older boys; I was sweating bullets but then I remembered I was the one who had the money so I stopped worrying, I knew they would find me and they did. One wanted a black baseball cap with one word printed on it; the cost was $250.00. I reminded him that he heard what his dad said, no single item over $200. He tried to convince me that he and his other brother would share so actually it was only 125.00 each. Hmm, clever! They are making kids smarter and much more manipulative these days. 😊 After much debate, I caved and called Daddy who of course approved the purchase.
Dog-walking is questionable. It depends. If the request comes directly from the hotel and the guest is a known guest of the hotel, I would do it. If it’s random, most likely not. If the dog bites and the dog parents don’t tell you, you are responsible. Or if the dog has a health condition and they don’t tell you and it dies, you are responsible, and the list goes on and on. There is special insurance you can get, but truth be told, I could never live with myself if a client’s fur baby died on my watch.
What do you see as the future for the Concierge industry in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic?
I am saddened by it. With our recent opening, I’ve visited my colleagues at the hotels and they are in masks behind acrylic shields standing at the counter greeting guests. The personal touch has diminished. The Guests are frustrated, and services are limited because the hours the concierge are at the desk is limited. Bottom line, you better need something in the few hours they are open or you are out of luck.
Since the hotels are open with limited departments, my gut feeling is that the decision-makers may decide there is no longer a need for this type of service. But I challenge anyone sitting in their Ivory Towers to spend one eight-hour day behind the desk or in the call center before making a final decision because then they will understand how important a Concierge is and how hard they work to keep the hotel guests happy and returning to their property. It will be a rotten shame if the Concierge Department, which is an intricate part of the hospitality industry, is not brought back in a hundred percent capacity. These Team Members are the heartbeat of the city and the hotel properties! Concierges know every nook and cranny of the city, transportation, activities, dining, etc., and if we don’t know the information firsthand, our Concierge Community is very tight-knit, not only in our city but worldwide, and it only takes one call and our colleagues are there to help one another. Concierges help define Las Vegas as a very unique and helpful destination.
Leah, this was very informative, helpful, and entertaining. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you for allowing me to explain about the Concierge Industry.