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Hotel Concierges: An Unexpected Public Relations Tool

If you perform public relations functions for the entertainment industry, retail industry, or the arts, you may not realize that you have a city full of goodwill ambassadors that are ready to spread the word for you. Hotel concierges at business-class and upscale establishments stand ready to serve guests at a moment’s notice. And to do this effectively, they work hard at establishing an extensive network of informational resources, including public relations firms. With a minimal amount of effort, you can become part of that network.

Hotel concierges see themselves as personal assistants, ready to provide information and support to travelers who are unfamiliar with the city or too pressed for time to research their destination. Common requests hotel concierges might receive include helping to obtain theater tickets, recommending a restaurant that’s suitable for a romantic anniversary dinner or power breakfast, or coming up with an activity that’s suitable for families with children. Yet they also might be called upon for such exotic requests as helping to arrange a quickie wedding or hot-air balloon ride.

Hotel concierges admit to taking a lot of pride in knowing how to meet a client’s every need. In fact, they profit from their ability to do so; tips are often commensurate with the level of service provided or the complexity of a task performed.

For public relations specialists in many industries, hotel concierges are contacts to be wooed. Are you promoting a museum, art gallery, botanical garden, or restaurant? How about a department store with personal shopping services? Here are a few tips for attracting the attention of this too-often neglected group of goodwill ambassadors:

Develop a mailing list. Many cities have trade associations that serve hotel concierges and may be able to supply you with a list of their members. If such a list is unavailable, compile a list of local hotels yourself. Then create an informational packet designed to let your target audience know who you are and what you can do. Tell them the details of this season’s symphony performances or the impressive background of your French chef. Send a catalog of corporate gifts that you can personalize on short notice. If you can develop photos in 30 minutes instead of 60, or offer other services with exceptional value, let your local hotel concierges know.

Show them what you have to offer. Nothing beats a firsthand experience. Consider putting together a simple event and sending invitations to concierges. If you’re a museum, an after-hours wine and cheese party would give them the chance to view your exhibits. Restaurants could also host a get-together that would showcase specialty cuisines as well as atmosphere; if a concierge has a client asking for an intimate, upscale dinner location, he’ll be able to recommend yours with confidence if he’s already been there. Alternatively, you could work your way through your mailing list by sending a sample of your work — a floral arrangement or custom gift basket, for example — to a different concierge each week or each month.

Equip them. To help local hotel concierges spread your message to their clients, public relations firms should be sure hotels have a small stack of your brochures, catalogs, business cards, or price lists to hand out. Coupons –- a two-for-one admission, discounted limousine service, or free appetizer -– are also a great way to promote your cause; most concierges would be pleased to offer this kind of added value to a hotel guest making an inquiry.

The average concierge is an informational sponge, always eager to soak up tips and tidbits that might come in handy later. Public relations firms should always be on the lookout for ways to use this to their advantage.

This article, written by Hilda J. Bruckner, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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