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A concierge (French pronunciation: [kɔ̃sjɛʁʒ]) is an employee of a multi-tenant building, such as a hotel or apartment building, who receives guests. The concept has been applied more generally to other hospitality settings and to personal concierges who manage the errands of private clients.
Duties and functions
The concierge serves guests of an apartment building, hotel, or office building with duties similar to those of a receptionist. The position can also be maintained by a security guard over the late night shift. In medieval times, the concierge was an officer of the king who was charged with executing justice, with the help of his bailiffs. Later on in the 18th century, the concierge was a high official of the kingdom, appointed by the king to maintain order and oversee the police and prisoner records.
In 19th-century and early 20th-century apartment buildings, particularly in Paris, the concierge was known as a "Suisse", as the post was often filled by Swiss people. He often had a small apartment on the ground floor, called la loge, and was able to monitor all comings and goings. However, such settings are now extremely rare; most concierges in small or middle-sized buildings have been replaced by the part-time services of door-staff. Some larger apartment buildings or groups of buildings retain the use of concierges. The concierge may, for instance, keep the mail of absented dwellers, be entrusted with the apartment keys to deal with emergencies when residents are absent, provide information to residents and guests, provide access control, enforce rules, and act as a go-between for residents and management when management is not on-site.
In hotels or resorts, a concierge assists guests by performing various tasks such as making restaurant reservations, booking hotels, arranging for spa services, recommending night life hot spots, booking transportation (like taxi, limousines, airplanes, boats, etc.), coordinating porter service (luggage assistance request), procuring tickets to special events, and assisting with various travel arrangements and tours of local attractions. Concierges also assist with sending and receiving parcels.
In hospitals, concierge services are becoming increasingly available. A hospital concierge provides similar services to those of a hotel concierge, but serves patients and employees as well. This helps hospital employees who work long shifts, and helps to provide work-life balance.
There are numerous independent personal concierge companies that provide errand services and information services for their members. Services include informational requests, setting dinner reservations, making telephone calls, researching travel arrangements and more. Typically, concierge companies will bill on an hourly rate, and depending upon the type of task, fees can vary drastically. Other companies bill a flat monthly fee based upon the number of requests a member is allowed to place each month. In the United Kingdom, since the year 2000 and as of 2010, concierge has become a key marketing and loyalty tool in the banking sector and offered as a benefit on luxury credit cards. This service offering is also known as lifestyle management. Concierges also entertain their clients.
Additionally, concierge services are now frequently offered as a service by financial institutions to their most valuable clients as way of retaining and attracting clients. Lifestyle and travel concierge companies such Ten Lifestyle Group often offer their service as a white-label or semi-branded product on a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) basis. The market for concierge businesses in which Ten operates is currently worth around $1 billion. Banks who currently offer concierge services to clients include Coutts, China Merchants Bank, RBC and HSBC.
In the luxury yachting industry, concierge services are available to meet the demands of yacht owners and charter guests travelling on board. Often enlisted by yacht captains and crew, yacht concierges typically provide entertainment and excursions for guests in their destination(s) and can also assist with support services for the crew and yacht itself, typically offered by ships agents. 
The owners and operators of concierge, lifestyle management and errand service businesses are supported and advocated by the non-profit International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association (ICLMA) and the National Concierge Association.
Another possibility, suggested by French authors as early as the 19th century, is that "concierge" is a contraction of comte des cierges ("count of candles"), a servant responsible for maintaining the lighting and cleanliness of medieval palaces.
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- "Concierge", OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2013, retrieved 2014-03-07,
French concierge, in Old French cumcerges, concerge, -ciarge, -sirge, -sierge, -cherge, whence medieval Latin consergius (in text of 1106): derivation unknown.
- "Concierge", Merriam-Webster.com, retrieved 2014-03-07,
French, from Old French, probably from Vulgar Latin *conservius, alteration of Latin conservus fellow slave, from com- + servus slave
- "Les anciens prisons de Paris". Le Cabinet de Lecture et le Cercle Réunis: Gazette des Familles (in French). 12 (1): 459. 5 January 1841.
Il y avait, comme on sait, outre le comte des Cierges un comte des Etables; par contraction on a fait de ces deux titres ceux de connétable et de concierge. (There was, as we know, in addition to the count of Candles a count of Stables; by contraction of these two titles was made those of constable and concierge.)
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- The International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association
- Les Clefs d'Or USA, a part of the international Les Clefs d'Or ("The Golden Keys") professional association
- National Concierge Association
- American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute
- Yachting Pages