Courier Connoisseur | Lifestyle
A Day in the Life of Top Beverly Hills Concierge
Being a top concierge in Beverly Hills requires hospitality juggling skills, along with the intuition needed to anticipate guests’ needs even before they realize what they want. At the Peninsula in Beverly Hills, five-star services range from an airport concierge greeting guests at LAX – who can even get their room service order or spa time booked while still in the car. The hotel also has a magical thing called “Peninsula Time,” which (if booked in advance) allows guests to check in and out at any hour of the day or night for no additional fee. When they book a room, suite or villa, it is theirs for one night – even if they check-in at 8 a.m. on day one and check-out at 10 p.m. on day two (subject to availability). Upon arrival, room accoutrements might include personalized monogrammed pillowcases or a pet care schedule for those who travel with their furry best-friend on business. Hotel regulars may find that the wardrobe left behind on the last visit will be pressed and cleaned in the closet.
One venerable staff member who helps make all the magic happen in front of the house and behind the scenes is Frank Parr, the 2019 recipient of “Concierge of the Year” by the Los Angeles Concierge Association (LACA).
BH Courier: How long have you been a concierge in Beverly Hills?
Frank: I’ve been a concierge since 2013, so six years. This was my first concierge position.
Were you in the hotel business before?
Yes, I was kind of a jack of all trades. I worked in food and beverage and reservations at the Beverly Wilshire. That sounds easier than it is. I came over to the Peninsula because I wanted to learn and grow. I handled their group sales [at first.] We are such a small hotel and the staff has been here for so long that it feels Familia in that sense. It adds to the hotel a lot because the guests know us.
Once I knew what [a concierge] did, I thought it would be a good fit. I realized [during training] that it was the art of multi-tasking.
Clearly, you were right. Congratulations on winning ‘the best concierge’ for your work at the Peninsula. What goes into winning such an accolade?
In terms of being a concierge at a property such as this, it’s a nice blend of being organized and having an intuitive approach to guests. It’s really about kind of understanding what their needs are for that particular stay and anticipating. That is a big word in hospitality. Thinking of their needs before they do.
Can you give an example?
A simple example is if we are booking a Beverly Hills reservation, we will ask them if they need our house car or we will provide transportation. If they are doing an anniversary dinner, we will ask if they would like flowers in the room when you come back. Something to make it special and easy for them. That is our job.
That is a skillset and talent that seems to be in a person’s DNA or not. What drew you to embark on a career in the hotel service industry?
At a property like this, one of the things that distinguishes one five-star hotel from the next is genuineness. That someone really cares. It makes a huge impression. We have such an incredible return clientele rate here, when they call us, we often times remind them of things that they usually get when they are here.
What is the most requested restaurant booking or experience when guests come to BH?
I would say the biggest request we get is for restaurants and transportation but more than anything [our guests] want guidance. L.A. is such a big place, if you’re not familiar with the city, it can be frustrating for people who don’t know what they are walking into. We provide advice and information. Where to dine, go for tourist attraction.
What is still the most popular?
Madeo on Camden is incredibly popular. Spago is still popular. They are great and really look after our guests which we appreciate. They really do make it feel like a small town. Also, Nerano down the street from us. We think it’s a hidden gem. Once they [the guests] are in the know they ask to return. Crustacean has had a big resurgence. Bedford & Burns is a great family restaurant with a Continental menu. You can get everything from a salad to steak. When people come in and don’t want a big scene but want to be comfortable, and we know the food will be great. They are always welcoming to our guests. We like to promote some of the restaurants and businesses that are not necessarily widely known but our really reliable and look after our guests.
What about tourist attractions in the city? Can you recommend something off the beaten path?
Universal is the number one requested park and they really work with the concierge community. They make it easy which we appreciate. A lot of people don’t know about Greystone Manor. During the holidays they have events and some musical performances. I took a city tour that stops there. The story behind it has so much intrigue. From an apparent murder that occurred there – the movie “There Will Be Blood” is tied to the Doheny family and that whole world. Finding things that people don’t necessarily know about is great. BOLD Beverly Hills has been fantastic. The great thing about this area is it really serves as a hub to the city. You can go anywhere from here and it’s the center of the L.A. world in a sense.
After a long day, what is the most rewarding part of the job?
It’s really good for people who like to be busy. Every day is different which is really appealing to me. It’s always fun to meet someone new and I learn something new every day here. You have to have curiosity, but the biggest thing is the relationships, the team, the hotel, and the guests. We have seen some of the kids grow up.
We have a family that stays with us twice a year from Japan. We order them their Halloween costumes every year. We do a whole discovery for them and then ship [the costumes] to Japan.
What is the most challenging aspect of the position?
I would say you really want to maintain a level of professionalism and service of the highest level at all times. That takes energy and care. That intangible thing that you were talking about. You have to care. I’m not saying that is challenging but it does require attention. Also, when I first started, I had a mini-panic attack. I wasn’t sure I could to it. There is a lot of things to juggle but after a week or two, you learn how to balance it. Now it feels like riding a bike.
Has anything new or eye-opening impacted your guests recently?
The city is always changing. Something as simple but as consequential as LAX with the new taxi or uber [pick-ups] and taking the shuttle. They are still figuring it out. In terms of getting information flow, that is really important and affects our guests. For our arrival transfers, we have a greeter at the airport.
Can you share a personal anecdote on a tricky request that you were able to complete?
We have had to hold open stores sometimes when people want a certain pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Or have a store open on a Sunday for a particular client. We had a guest that was celebrating their 40th birthday and their spouse set up a series of dinners. We had paparazzi waiting for them whenever they got out of the house-car TMZ style. So that was fun. We have a guest that had a certain cologne that he always wears but they discontinued it, so we found a chemist who recreated the scent. Those things don’t happen every day.
What are your thoughts about our tech devices replacing personal service?
I use my phone all the time but the thing that makes service special is the personal connection. And, the fact that there is so much more subjectivity to life than what you can get on your phone. Finding things that have good ratings is great but when you can book on Open Table for Spago, or I can call and say, ‘we want this to be a very special occasion,’ and I actually have the connection to the maître ‘d who can really welcome people. I think it’s something that you can’t really quantify. The feeling of community and the human connection isn’t going away.