As You Wish

Tourists rely on them for advice and assistance, but where do hotel concierges turn to stay informed?
Photo Thinkstock

While there may be no such thing as a genie in a magic bottle, the hotel concierge comes close.

“As long as it is moral, legal, ethical and kind, I can do whatever you need done,” says Travis Gilbert, president of the New Orleans Concierge Association and a concierge at Le Meridien New Orleans.

“Sometimes I have to get a little creative to figure it out, but if it is illegal like ticket brokering and escorts, I won’t judge you; I just say, I’m sorry it is not legal in Louisiana so I can’t assist you with that,” Gilbert says.

He can, however, find a dress on Mardi Gras day for a guest to wear to the Rex ball, even if it means jumping parade barricades to pick the dress up from a concierge colleague at another hotel.

“I get to do the fun stuff,” says Gilbert. “Once the guests are all checked in, they come and see me, and I find that memorable experience for them.”

It’s often up to the concierge to put forth an array of New Orleans offerings, from the well-beaten path of the French Quarter to jumping on a streetcar to explore a little further.

“I look for the tour company that best suits my clientele at the moment, and this changes from hotel to hotel,” says Gilbert. “I had a more upscale clientele at the Windsor Court Hotel, so we booked a lot more private and personalized tours. Here at the Le Meridien, it is more relaxed and I can spread out.”

But with so much going on around the city at all times, and so many tourism-related businesses vying for attention, how do concierges stay on top of all the options?

Peter Van Dusen, public relations and social media director at the New Orleans Concierge Association and concierge at the Omni Royal Orleans, says he stays abreast of what is happening around the city in part by constantly reading all available publications.

“We do a lot of reading – online and in print,” says Van Dusen. “Networking with concierge colleagues is the greatest resource, though – you never know what you are going to get asked, and if I don’t know, I am sure one of my colleagues will.”

Gilbert says that tourism-based businesses looking to get their name and services out in the most constructive way need only reach out to the New Orleans Concierge Association (NOCA) and ask to be a presenter at one of NOCA’s monthly meetings.

“NOCA is constantly networking and sharing information on new businesses and places,” says Gilbert. “We have monthly meetings where the first part is educational – I’ll invite three or four local businesses to come and speak, and bring brochures or any information they have. It is a great way for [businesses] to get out there.”

Members of NOCA are required to go through a screening process. To join, the concierge must be employed by a hotel for six months or more and be sponsored by a current member of NOCA, someone who can speak on their behalf. A letter of recommendation from their hotel’s general manager is also required. Of the 53 professional concierges who are members of NOCA, 10 are also part of “Les Clefs d’Or,” the prestigious International Society of Concierges.

Without NOCA, Gilbert and Van Dusen say their jobs would be much harder.

“It has become a very big positive for me,” Gilbert says. “It has been great to have that network and lifeline.”

To learn more about NOCA, visit