Interview with David Veguillas, Head Concierge at Gran Hotel Inglés
The world’s most elegant and sophisticated hotels not only offer their clients the best services and products, but also the best, most personalised and á la carte treatment. The Concierge tem at Gran Hotel Inglés is the best definition of a perfect system at the service of its guests. For this reason, David Veguillas, a great professional in the hotel sector leads the concierge team at Gran Hotel Inglés. David has extensive experience within the tourist industry, the hotel sector, education although he stands out particularly for his commitment to English language training, customer service and the history of art.
When and how did you discover that you wanted to be a concierge?
I believe that more often than not, this wonderful profession finds you rather than the other way round. My studies and my vocation drew me towards music, art, history and most certainly to dealing with the public. However, destiny guided me and convinced me to work in the hotel sector from the time I moved to London to improve my knowledge of English. There, I got caught up in the figure of Concierge and I realised that it fitted me like a glove, harmoniously combining all of the disciplines that I have loved from a young age.
How did you become a Clef d’Or concierge? Is there any reference from whom you learnt the profession?
During my stay in England, I studied courses like Young Concierge and was able to attend Les Clefs d’Or events, gradually entering into the Association and being aware of its huge importance within the sector. On arriving in Madrid, I was fortunate to be a Les Clefs d’Or Concierge and proudly wear the golden keys on my suit. When you meet the members, you learn that it is more than a professional association. It is a group of friends who mutually help each other so that our guests enjoy a fantastic stay. For this reason, our slogan is “Service through friendship”.
Stefano Trovo, a great professional in the sector, became my mentor for 5 unforgettable years and it was with him that I learnt the essence of the profession. Furthermore, in England I met the likes of Madeleine Calon or Simon Thomas. Here, in Spain, I have references like Ramón Lefort, our President and Borja Martín, Vice-President, among many others. All of them kindly welcomed me from the very first moment.
What personal skills and knowledge do you consider to be vital to be a god concierge?
The figure of Concierge represents many positions rolled into one: art expert, foodie, tourist guide, problem solver and even psychologist. Our work covers the impossible, whereby the limit is the imagination of our guests, always within the strictest ethical and legal standards.
Social skills, cultural knowledge, curiosity, perseverance,… our profession requires a varied series of aptitudes along with constant training, study and dedication. Above all, many resources, as we must know practically everything.
What is the day to day life of a Clef d’Or concierge like? What challenges does he/she face?
If there is something that characterises the profession of concierge, is that each day can be radically different to the previous day. We spoil our clients so they feel even better than at home. For this reason, we take care of the tiniest detail so that they find everything to their liking.
In the information era, it is extremely important to filter all of the data available to us. Based on our experience, we can personalise any request so that it perfectly meets what our guests expect.
Getting the restaurant right, preparing a guided tour that fits in with the client’s style, private transport and the perfect driver for each occasion. We do not overlook anything, as is to be expected at the Gran Hotel Inglés 5-star in Madrid. We want to surprise those who already have everything.
There is the view that the concierge is responsible for making the impossible possible. Could you tell us the most complicated request you have been faced with?
For the concierge, the word “no” does not exist. Nothing is impossible, just another challenge to seek a miraculous solution, and the more difficult or extravagant the request is, the more we are motivated. Discretion is another of our main priorities and, for this reason, I cannot reveal the most implausible experience(s) that I have faced throughout my professional career. However, I can say that I have organised trips in a helicopter or a private jet in less than an hour or we have managed to make reservations there and then at the best restaurants which have waiting lists of several months. This is our day to day life.
Which differential value does the figure of a hotel concierge offer the traveller?
I think we often know what the client wants before he/she realises and therefore we save a lot of valuable time. As the great connoisseurs of our cities that we are, we ask our guests to allow us to take care of them and accept our recommendations.
In the end, we create a unique and unrepeatable white glove experience. Each guest has his/her own characteristics, specific needs and we want them to feel how important each one of them is to us. We want to be that added value.
What pushed you to lead the concierge team at Gran Hotel Inglés?
When I discovered the project that Hidden Away Hotels was developing in Madrid, I thought that it was the best thing that could have happened in the hotel sector in our city in many years. Its commitment to a powerful Concierge was clearly an added motivation and an opportunity that I would not have liked to miss for anything in the world.
Leading this department at the Gran Hotel Inglés is a fantastic experience. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work side by side with such a professional human team. All of us together are what makes the difference.
How is the hotel concierge in Spain positioned in comparison with other countries?
It is true that the figure of Concierge is not so well established in our country as in the United Kingdom or France, but we must highlight how well we are doing things and the gradual changes that are being undergone for the profession of Concierge to be known and recognised. The efforts of the Spanish Clefs d’Or are vital for this renewal process to be consolidated.
What advice would you give to those who aspire to become hotel concierges in the future?
For me, the most important thing is love for the profession, the care and dedication to ensure that our guests have unforgettable holidays whilst we work. If you have this vocation, all you have to do is make the effort to acquire knowledge and train uninterruptedly. It is essential to enjoy everything your city has to offer and proudly wear the Concierge uniform to be the best possible host.
In an increasingly digitalised world, do you think that there is still room for the figure of concierge in luxury hotel of the future or is it doomed to disappear?
In my opinion, technology helps and complements but can never replace the human touch that a Concierge can offer. Furthermore, the information needs to be filtered and, above all, personalised. This marks the difference between a good holiday and an unforgettable holiday.