The tourism sector is fast-growing and, as tourism ambassadors to each of their hotel’s guests, concierges are at the forefront of creating an unforgettable experience for all visitors. With the aim of showing concierges what is available to tourists visiting South Africa, the 8th annual Concierge Conference ended off its four-city tour at the Sandton Sun Hotel in Johannesburg. The conference took place in Durban, Cape Town and, for the first time this year, Plettenburg Bay.

“This year’s conferences were hugely successful and this would not have been possible without our venue sponsors across the country, our speakers, exhibitors and delegates themselves,” says Deon Prinsloo, the Head Concierge of Palazzo Hotel and organiser of the Concierge Conference. “We are seeing more new people attending the conferences and sharing their experiences and knowledge and we look forward to the conferences in 2018.”

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Bleisure Experiences’ (Business Leisure and Travel) and the final event aptly coinciding with World Tourism Day. Johannesburg delegates were addressed by Former Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom who says tourism is a fast growing sector in SA’s economy and concierges play a vital role in ensuring guests visit the country again and stay longer. Hanekom says South Africa has a lot to offer, and that the role of concierges is very important as they are able to suggest the best sights and experiences to visitors.

However, says Hanekom: “Ambassadors need to travel and explore their surroundings so they can recommend places to visit and things to do with confidence.”

“Although a lot of information is now freely available on the internet, nothing beats the human touch and that is where concierges can make a difference.”

According to Deon Prinsloo, “Bleisure Experiences” has been an overriding theme and concierges who have their finger on the pulse have made sure guests who travel on business have some leisure time with family as well by recommending activities that fit into their schedules. “A knowledgeable concierge or guest relations manager is a huge asset to the hotel and all concierges must aspire to continuously educate themselves on the latest trends that affect guests and ultimately how long they stay and spend at the hotel.”

Addressing delegates, Mary Shilleto, CEO of Thompson Travel said concierges are in the business of listening to customers and putting themselves in the shoes of the customer. She emphasised the importance of knowledge of what is happening in the industry and having the latest information that would assist them to deal with guests visiting their hotels.

“Concierges need to enjoy what they do and remain passionate knowing that in the bigger scheme of things, they play a vital role in the growth of the tourism sector,” says Shilleto.

The dates for 2018 conferences are as follows: 12 September at Elangeni Hotel in Durban, 19 September at the 12 Apostles Hotel in Cape Town, 26 September at the Kurland Hotel in the Garden Route and 3 October at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg.  For more information on the conferences, you can get in touch with Deon Prinsloo by emailing him on Deon.Prinsloo@tsogosun.com

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