Concierges make the ‘unexpected happen’: Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City
Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City’s chief concierge Brian Japhet talks to Hotelier Middle East about how he meets the needs of guests ahead of the Concierge Mastermind of the Year event
What made you want to enter the competition? What are your expectations?
The Concierge Mastermind of the Year competition seems like an ideal and innovative idea that allows us concierges, the people who usually work in the background to “make the unexpected happening”, to proof ourselves publicly and show our skills and knowledge.
I expect this to be a fun and at the same time a challenging experience, where every individual gets the chance to push their boundaries and to reveal their true concierge spirit.
What are your chances of winning?
I’m well aware that this won’t be easy. Competition never sleeps and there are so many highly skilled and experienced concierges in Dubai, but I bring over a decade of Dubai-experience to the table, having worked for various great brands like Hilton, Westin, Al Qsar and Mina A’Salam in Madinat Jumeirah.
In addition to that, I was awarded Concierge of the Year and Concierge Team of the Year by DTCM and shortlisted as Best Concierge in Middle East and feel confident that I have a great chance to win this amazing competition and leave my mark on the stage.
What do you think makes a good concierge?
For me, a true concierge is someone who is able to look after everyone - from a royal king to a couple of honeymooners on their first big trip to knowing the needs of a traveling pet. That is the testament of a true concierge.
The best reward a concierge can get is knowing that his actions made a difference and had a positive impact on the guest’s stay, maybe even delivered a unique and unexpected ‘money can’t buy’ experience.
What’s your favorite hidden gem about Dubai? What would you recommend for guests?
Dubai is a very diverse and interesting destination and there is so much to explore. For a traveller it can be overwhelming, but for concierges we are always in the know where there is something new to discover.
The Espresso Lab located in Dubai Design District and founded by Emirati entrepreneur Ibrahim Al Mallouhi, a place where true coffee lovers go. When you first set foot into this place you feel you have entered a laboratory. What I especially like about the place is, that you can select coffee beans from different countries and the staff will explain which type of coffee bean would be the best for you.
Another hidden gem is also one of my favourite places personally - Kishmish in Al Safa. An authentic Afghani street and soul food eatery. If you visit, make sure to try the Kabuli Palou which is also the national dish of Afghanistan.
The next one on my list is called Mama’esh in Al Safa which serves Palestinian delicacies. The food is very authentic and if you are there, try their flatbread. It comes straight out of the wood-fired oven and don’t forget to try their melted cheese fatayer.
What is the one thing people don’t know about concierges?
The golden keys that decorate the collars of our uniforms signal that a concierge has been recognised for his excellent services by the Clefs d’Or society. Those who wear the pin are being awarded for their professionalism, integrity, local knowledge and impeccable recommendations.
Often, we are the last resort the guest turns to when no one else can help. Fully booked restaurant? Concert tickets out of stock? Ask the concierge, he might be able to make the impossible possible, while adding a personal touch, in everything he does.
How do you think the competition will benefit Dubai’s concierge sector?
This competition will showcase the tremendous talent and knowledge that concierges have. In addition to making this secret profession better known to the community, hotel guests and even colleagues. The winner of this competition will be a role model to all the aspiring concierges in the city and increase awareness for this highly interesting and versatile profession.