From making restaurant reservations to finding replacement parts for a 90-year-old sewing machine, Can Lam - chief concierge at Langham Place, Mongkok - says he only has one goal in mind: to serve with all his heart, even if the guests' requests can sometimes be daunting.
"I've been working as a concierge for 18 years, and every day, I am excited to come to work to meet our guests," says Lam.
A concierge need not have high education, but he or she must know the city very well and should have good contacts. "My job is to get customers what they want - arrange transportation, sightseeing, book tickets. These duties may sound simple, but they can be challenging.
A concierge must have good contacts at various restaurants, clubs and ticket agents so he can get difficult-to-secure bookings," says Lam.
Providing travel tips is another key duty, and the most common request from guests is restaurant recommendations. "From local cha chaan teng, snack shops to Michelin-star restaurants - we need to know where to find them and how to book tables. We also keep ourselves up to date with the hottest events in Hong Kong to give our guests the best experience," says Lam. "One must have the heart to serve. Never just get the job done - always go the extra mile and provide as many options as possible for guests."
As networking is key, Hong Kong's hotel concierge staff have set up the Society of the Golden Keys to help each other out. "The society meets on a regular basis to share the latest information on travel and entertainment," says Lam.
Since the job requires much experience, it is not for a newbie. Many concierge staff started as bellboys. They learn on-the-job, serving guests and expanding their contacts. From being a bellboy or other entry-level posts, one can become a concierge clerk, senior concierge clerk, assistant chief concierge and chief concierge, who works as a manager leading his staff and co-ordinating with other departments to serve guests.