Because concierges pledge to satisfy every request, every once in awhile, concierges are asked to provide some pretty bizarre services. Here are a few of the strange requests concierges have received:
One year during the Kentucky Derby, a company asked to have a horse and jockey brought to the hotel. I said, "Okay." They replied, "Are you serious?" I contacted my friend, who is a trainer, and he gave me a price and said it would be no problem. Then I got a jockey friend of mine to agree to come in and sit on a bale of hay and talk to the people. About three weeks before the Derby, the company realized the backlash that would occur if someone were to be hurt by the horse, so they decided to just go with the jockey. -Larry Johnson, Seelbach Hilton
A guy called and wanted to know if the concierge offered "deer pushing services." He was a hunter, and he needed someone to follow him into the woods and push the deer toward him so that he could shoot it. -Katharine C. Giovanni, Triangle Concierge, Inc.
Once I had to fly a bellman to New York to get a special set of shoes for an Arab prince who was attending a formal event. -Jack Nargil, Head Concierge, Hay-Adams Hotel
A few years ago, we had a big meeting in the hotel, and a woman was attending who had recently had a baby. She called me and told me that she wasn't bringing her child, but she was breastfeeding and didn't want to waste the milk. She asked me to find a private room for her to pump, and then she wanted me to freeze the milk and FedEx it to her home. Getting a room was no problem, but to ship the milk I had to have dry ice, and very few companies sell it. It took me a full day to find a small enough quantity of dry ice, but I was able to do it. -Shujaat Khan, Chef Concierge, Capital Hilton, and President, Les Clefs D'Or
A woman called and she wanted to lose weight. She asked the concierge to hire a hypnotist for her, but first she wanted him to call a psychic to see if it would work. -Katharine C. Giovanni, Triangle Concierge, Inc.
No matter how strange the request, concierges rarely turn down a client or guest. "We always say that if we can't get you a white elephant, perhaps we can get you a pink elephant," says Nargil. "The word 'no' really doesn't exist. It's a word concierges rebel against."
Concierges will turn down a request if it is illegal or unethical, however. "Once I had four guys come in, and you can guess what they asked for," says Johnson. "I gave them one of the local publications that had phone numbers in it and told them to call for themselves. I'm not a pimp."
Another hot button for concierges is confidentiality. It's an unwritten rule, and a stipulation for joining organizations such as ICEA, that concierges never reveal their client's requests. "I deal with celebrities all the time. What they've said to me stays with me," says Giovanni.
We'll look at the history of concierges and what's in store for the future next.