Deon Prinsloo receives Golden KeysMay 30th, 2012 by Susan Reynard | Categories: hotels, industry, people, tourism
Gaining membership of international association of concierges Les Clef d’Or – also known as the Golden Keys – is a rare honour, given only to those concierges who have made a life out of service to guests. South Africa now has an eighth member – Deon Prinsloo, head concierge at the five-star The Palazzo hotel at Montecasino, part of Tsogo Sun – Hotels.
Les Clefs d’Or has been operating since 1929. It started in Paris with 11 members and today it has 4 000 members from 39 countries and is governed by an international president and committee.
Prinsloo was recently awarded the Golden Keys as a symbol of qualifying for membership. He explains: “The criteria for membership are stringent. Only head concierges of five-star hotels for five years or more are able to apply and applicants are evaluated their problem-solving capability and professional conduct.”
Previous recipients of the Golden Keys in South Africa are Ronnie Govender, Sandton Sun; Archie Christodoulides, Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton; Claude-Francois Ndala, Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga; Lizelle De Haas, Radisson Blu Sandton; Vinny Maharaj, Intercontinental Sandton Towers; Billy Chetty, Davinci Hotel & Suites Sandton; and Ryan Van Zyl, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel and Residence Cape Town.
For Prinsloo, his position as head concierge of a top-rated hotel involves more than excellence on the job. For several years he has worked towards building a Concierge Forum in Johannesburg, with the aim of expanding it to the rest of South Africa. The Forum has been received with much enthusiasm by hotel concierges and guest relations staff as well as service providers to hotel guests.
Prinsloo adds: “These concierge organisations exist in all other major cities, with the local tourism industries benefiting from having better informed staff dealing with hotel guests on a daily basis. We realised that the same could be true of the South African tourism industry.
“Most hotels have about 200 rooms or more, and concierge staff have direct contact with these guests, who are likely to make use of several services, restaurants, and activities during their visit to Johannesburg. The better informed a guest is about options available; the better the chance there is for him or her to return or extend his stay.”
The aims of the forum are to serve and assist guests to any hotel or guesthouse within the Johannesburg region in a more professional way with up to date information; to promote Johannesburg as a tourism destination with a lot to offer; to share information; and work together to achieve the highest level of service, comparable with international standards to encourage return business.
“The fact is that the concierge can make a powerful difference to a guest’s stay at a hotel and, from the hotel’s perspective, contributes significantly towards maintaining an establishment’s reputation,” explains Prinsloo.
Apart from many years in South Africa, Prinsloo also spent two years in Dubai’s One&Only Royal Mirage, which has been recognised at the top hotel in Dubai for many years. Here he gained valuable experience in the need to expose concierges to the experiences and services they are expected to promote to their guests. This is a trend that is steadily growing in South Africa.
Under the auspices of the Concierge Forum, Prinsloo has organised two successful annual concierge and guest relations conferences in South Africa, with the third scheduled for September 2012. At the last conference in September 2011, the Concierge of the Year Competition was announced, which will see 10 of the top five-star hotels in Johannesburg entering their concierge teams and the winner announced at the September 2012 conference. Sponsored prizes and the prestige of being the top concierge team in Johannesburg will make this competition highly worthwhile for all entrants.
Looking ahead, Prinsloo anticipates starting a chapter of Les Clef d’Or as soon as the country has the required 10 Golden Keys recipients, then hosting an international Les Clef d’Or congress for the good of the concierge industry in South Africa and the hotel industry, but most importantly for the ultimate good of every guest to this country.