As Seen in the New England Condominium Newspaper
May I Help You? The Modern Concierge At Your Service
By: Liz Lent, January 2013
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
For most people, there simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. We rush to pick the kids up from school, make it to that impromptu work meeting that just got called or even find the time to grab some take-out dinner before we climb into bed and do it all again the next day.
Thankfully, a growing number of condo and co-op residents across New England are finding a helping hand as more and more of the region’s residential buildings and communities are offering concierge services.
And for New Englanders, this kind of service is becoming more of an expectation than a luxury as more buildings than ever before are offering it. “Folks pay a lot for their condos in Boston and want a level of service that’s commensurate with property values. I think in Boston, people enjoy concierge services in residential buildings because it personalizes the high-rise living experience,” says Richard M. Primrose, president of the Boston-based concierge company Palladion Services. “A good concierge makes a building lobby feel like home. A good concierge in a residential building integrates him or herself within the residents’ community. They develop relationships with residents and they become part of the family. A good concierge places the city at the residents’ fingertips.”
“I think people enjoy concierge services in residential buildings for a variety of reasons,” adds Rachel Ottley, property manager with Dannin Management Corp. in Brookline, Massachusetts. “I think one of the main reasons has to do with knowing someone is always there to help with anything you might need; no matter how big or how small a concierge can do it.”
How It All Began
In the past, personal service and attention meant turning to the doorman or superintendent for help with unit repairs or some other mechanical issue. Now, residents are able to look for assistance with a far broader range of needs. “Lots of people call on concierges for dinner reservations, theater tickets, to help hire elderly care givers, find a bridge partner who also lives in the building,” says Primrose. “Around the holidays, arranging catering, locating private chefs and special event prep is popular. The menu of services is endless.”
Concierge service first made its mark in the hotel industry, as out of town guests would seek insider knowledge on where to eat, what show to see or who could help with a dry cleaning emergency. Soon, those services began spreading to other industries.
“Hotel concierge services and residential concierge services are very different,” notes Primrose. “Hotel concierges are much more transaction oriented. The guest is transient. They don’t know the city, they want dinner reservations, so it’s a transaction. A guest may or may not return to the hotel. Residential concierges are much more relationship oriented. Whereas a hotel concierge will respond to a guest request, a residential concierge often anticipates the residents’ needs and acts accordingly. For example they’ll call a car service or a driver at the same time each week.”
In other instances, buildings may provide residents with remote concierge services versus having an individual on-staff and on-site. They may provide a phone number for residents or have a menu of options listed in the lobby. If a building wants to achieve and maintain a five-star image, though, “they’ll always have someone stationed in the lobby.”
Primrose agrees that living in a building with a concierge services or a doorman/concierge combination is a plus. “Concierge service in a residential building enhances property value,” he says. “And it sets the tone for luxury living.”
Experts believe that in the past, the difference for a resident may have been whether or not a building had a doorman. Without a doorman, for example, you could not mail-order a box of light bulbs because there would have been no one there during the day to sign for them. Nowadays, with the concierge service, not only is there someone there to sign for the light bulbs, now there is also someone there to install them and have the lights on when you get home.
For a lot of residents, the service and care provided by the concierge becomes a necessity and not just a luxury. “A lot of residents will turn to the concierge to find a bridge partner or a nanny or to set up the community room for a function,” says Primrose. “And for a lot of residents those services are necessary.”
Whatever the need and whatever the occasion, for thousands of residents throughout the city it is a relief to know that someone is there to help. Whether its dog walking, getting great theater seats for a mother-in-law or just being the friendly face that greets them in the lobby every day, a talented and dedicated concierge makes life better and easier. For people struggling to find enough hours in the day to live, work and play, few services are more important than that.