Concierge and executive lounges can be hotel money savers

Written by admin on October 27, 2008 – 1:19 pm -

Most travelers, unless they’re on a more than generous expense account or rolling in money, watch their dollars these days. That’s certainly my mantra and most business owners are trying to find new ways to make cuts without making employees suffer (too much).

I need to confess I’ve stocked mini-bars with purchases I’ve smuggled into a hotel from the neighborhood market. I always feel guilty until I look at the prices on top of the drinks and snacks cabinet. Eight dollars for a beer or soda?! I’m all for hotels making a profit but there are limits.

I may have unearthed a tip that ultimately can add up to real hotel savings, in addition to making a hotel stay more pleasant — Spend the extra dollars and book a room on the concierge or the executive floor. It’s rare to find these floors in smaller or boutique hotels. However, in many of the chain hotels or larger ones, concierge floors are becoming increasingly prevalent.

For a reasonable additional charge, hotel clients have access to a lounge where they can relax, read the morning paper while eating a complementary breakfast buffet, stop in for a soft drink or tea during the day and generally be greeted with free drinks and appetizers at cocktail hour.

Another plus is the club-like feel. I’ve had some very interesting conversations with other floor residents because most people are business travelers. When I stayed at the Shanghai Portman Ritz on my first out-sourcing trip in China, the buyer from Costco was there as well as many others doing business in China. The concierge lounge buzzed with conversation and English was the common language. The benefit of customers exchanging tips on dealing with local businesses was, for me, an enormous intangible value.

Guests staying on most executive floor lounges are also often entitled to a specific number of items that may be laundered or pressed each day. After looking at the hotel laundry price list it is easy to calculate the savings. Concierge guests may also be entitled to shoes being shined gratis.

For women traveling alone, lounges offer a respite from sitting in the room and staring at its four walls, ordering room service alone or spending time in the lobby bar where unaccompanied females are often suspect for being on the prowl.

Concierge and executive lounges provide a space where guests can read, watch television or work on their personal computers with free WiFi. Executive lounges smooth the impersonal feeling of some bigger-than-life hotels with a more manageable space.

Check-in and check-out can be done in the lounge and there are staff on duty assigned to help. This can come in especially handy when there’s a real language barrier. Speaking Mandarin is usually beyond most people’s language ability unless they studied the language intensively. If an airline ticket needs to be changed, a train ticket booked or a dinner reservation made, the concierge lounge staff does it with a smile and provides all of the back-up paperwork.

These executive and concierge floors and lounges may be more expensive, however they often save business travelers money in the long run and definitely make the time spent at the hotel far more pleasant.

Karen Fawcett is president of Bonjour Paris.

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