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The fast growing tourism sector creates jobs and concierges are at the forefront as the country’s tourism ambassadors helping to create unforgettable experiences for guests.

Johannesburg, 3 October 2017 – Themed “Bleisure Experiences” – the 8th Annual Concierge Conference ended on a high note at the Sandton Sun Hotel in Johannesburg on 27 September.
Aptly timed to coincide with World Tourism Day, 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, from beaches to wildlife and culturally diverse communities giving visitors so much more to choose from. The role of concierges becomes very important as they are able to point visitors in the right direction in terms of what to do and experience. 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.”

He encouraged concierges to be tourist themselves, arm themselves with knowledge of what various guests may need and always get feedback from guests as this will assist in improving service delivery.
According to Deon Prinsloo, Head Concierge and Guest Relations Manager at The Palazzo Hotel and Conference Organiser, locally, the “Bleisure Experiences” has been an overriding theme and concierges who have their finger on the pulse 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 oneself 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.

Countrywide conferences

Once again, the Concierge Conferences were held for the third year running atThe Beverly Hills Hotel Durban and The Cullinan Hotel in Cape Town. James Vos, MP Shadow Minister of Tourism opened the Cape Town Conference stated that “Tourism will get SA out of “Junk Status”. For the first time, the Concierge Conference made its debut at Kurland Hotel in the Garden Route, explains Prinsloo.

Together with Co Organisers Kagisho Ditira and Nardus Buys – Cape Town, they invite a diverse range of Exhibitors to promote what guests can enjoy while travelling around South Africa.

“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. “ 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 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.

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