Have you ever walked through a hotel lobby and met a lady or gentleman wearing a lapel pin with two crossed, golden keys? You may not have known at first site, but you were among one of the best concierges in the trade. The golden keys are the symbol of Les Clef d’Or (pronounced “lay-clay-dor”), an organization that includes the best of the best hotel and resort lobby concierges (think of a Clef d’Or like the Sommelier of the concierge industry). These ladies and gentlemen that are bestowed this title have worked tirelessly to ensure that any guest request/need, whether expressed or not, is executed perfectly and at the highest level. The standard of service amongst Les Clef d’Or is arguably one of the highest in the industry.
Les Clef d'Or organization
The Les Clef d’Or organization is a group of highly trained and highly motivated hotel and resort concierge; it is the only international organization for hotel and resort lobby concierges. Founded in Paris, France in 1929, every concierge that earns the title of Clef d’Or is inducted to a global network of concierges that can accomplish anything their guests need. Over nearly 100 years, the organization has accepted over 3,500 members worldwide at 530 destinations in 80 countries. It was only in 1953 that the society chose to make the Golden Keys the symbol to represent the few that wear them; these keys are said to be able to open any door.
So, what does it really mean to be a part of the Les Clef d’Or society? Being accepted as a member means that a concierge is equipped with the training, personality, knowledge, and unique skill set to create and provide an experience unlike any other. Employing a Les Clef d’Or concierge is considered a huge accolade for any hotel or resort. The knowledge they possess is not just local, but global. The society is a network that spans worldwide, and the community of concierges have regular meetings to share information from around the globe. Education is ongoing within the Les Clef d’Or organization with the annual congresses. Because of the effort to always be in the forefront of knowledge and service, this close-knit group holds enormous power when it comes to service but don’t mistake that for meaning they seek ‘power’. After all, the society motto is “In Service Through Friendship” and they promise to “accommodate every guest request so long as it is morally, legally, and humanly possible.”
What does this mean for guests?
So, you’ve met someone with this incredible accolade. What does that really mean for a guest? Their motto says it all, “In Service Through Friendship”. A Clef d’Or goes the extra mile, just as a friend would. They get to know you on a level that feels personal and with that, they can make anything happen to make your stay exceptional. Their network is a web of friends and colleagues they have met in their years as a concierge. A Clef d’Or’s far-reach makes them one of the best amenities a hotel has to offer. They have become a trusted resource to business and leisure travelers alike. A guest feels well looked after in their travels when they see the Golden Keys on a concierge's lapel.
How to be a Clef d’Or
Joining the Les Clef d’Or society and earning the Golden Keys is no easy task. It takes many, many years of dedication, training, and hard work within the concierge profession and the application qualifications reflect this. The basic qualifications are as follows:
21 years of age with good moral character
Employed with a hotel or resort full-time
A minimum of five years working in a hotel lobby, with at least three being a concierge;
Numerous recommendations from well-respected industry professionals; and
Two sponsorships from current Les Clef d’Ors that are in good standing with the association.
While this may seem difficult enough, these qualifications are just the beginning. In order to even be considered, a concierge must pass an oral exam and submit a 10-page written exam. It is said to take anywhere between five to twenty hours per concierge and the questions change annually. A reported 20% of applicants don’t pass. All in all, the entire process takes about three months from start to finish. If this is something that you are ready for, the United States Chapter reviews applications quarterly on the first day of March, June, September, and December.