After winning Young Concierge of the Year at The Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain & the Commonwealth Awards 2023, 31-year-old Tom gives us an insight into his career so far.
1. What does this mean to you on a personal level?
Winning the Young Concierge of the Year award is an incredibly meaningful achievement for me. It represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to the concierge profession in various hotels and seven years within the Society of the Golden Keys. It is an especially proud moment for both me and my family, particularly my father, who started his hospitality career in concierge.
2. Can you tell us about the career path that led to where you are today?
Despite spending my early years of my childhood in the back office of my father's concierge desk at weekends, officially my career started at the age of 17 when I joined the concierge team at Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton Hotel, where I worked until the age of 21. I then moved to
Brown's Hotel for four years before joining the reopening team of The Lanesborough until 2020 when I joined the pre-opening team of The Londoner as Head Concierge.
3 Are there any specific mentors you've looked to for guidance, and how have they helped you on your journey?
Absolutely, my father, Peter Wardley, has been a significant influence and mentor throughout my career. He not only imparted the technical aspects of the role, but also instilled in me the values of genuine care and the importance of building strong guest relationships.
Additionally, I've sought guidance and inspiration from other experienced concierge, both within our society and the broader hospitality community, such as Simon Thomas, Paul Whittle, Simon Wong, Charles Oak, and the late Stuart Johnson, to name a few. Their
insights, advice, and support have been invaluable in my professional development.
4. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I think I will have to call it a tie between being entrusted with the role as Head Concierge for the opening of The Londoner at the age of 27 and winning Where London's Young Concierge of The Year Award.
5. Dealing with guests cannot always be easy; what's your approach to winning over difficult guests?
Dealing with difficult guests can be a challenge. I try to approach such situations with a calm and empathetic manner. I actively listen to their concerns, acknowledge their feelings, and focus on finding a solution that meets their needs. Building trust and showing that I genuinely care about their experience often helps in transforming a challenging situation into a positive one.
6. What personal sacrifices have you had to make to become so successful in this field?
None. When choosing concierge as a career, you are choosing a lifestyle. For me, balancing the lifestyle is something I have had to work on. I struggle to turn down an opportunity to network, especially if it involves a couple of drinks.
7. What attributes do you think you possess that make you an award-winning concierge?
I believe several attributes have contributed to my success as a concierge. These include the usual skills of all our members like communication skills, an extensive knowledge of the local area, a genuine passion for providing outstanding service, etc. I think learning from those around me, not being too proud to admit if I do not know something.
Tom at the Kimpton Fitzroy with (from l to r): Bill Mullarky, Jack McCarthy, Head Concierge at 1 Hotel Mayfair; Alex Collins, Assistant Head Concierge at The Londoner
8. If you could give advice to concierge new to this profession, what would it be?
For new concierge, I would advise continuous learning and improvement. Take the time to enhance your knowledge about your city and its offerings, develop your communication skills, and build a network with other concierge.
Always prioritize your guests' needs, approach every challenge with a positive attitude, and remember that the key to success is providing exceptional service consistently.
9. What is the most rewarding thing about being a concierge?
The most rewarding aspect of being a concierge is the opportunity to create special moments and lasting memories for our guests. It's about making their stay as enjoyable and stress-free as possible and knowing that you've made a positive impact on their experience.
10. Les Clefs d'Or's motto is 'service through friendship'; how important is collaboration with colleagues across the industry to you?
Collaboration with colleagues across the industry is of the utmost importance. "Service through friendship" is not just a motto but a guiding principle that we live by. Sharing insights, experiences, and resources with fellow concierge ensures that we can collectively provide the best service to our guests, regardless of where they stay. It's a spirit of camaraderie and collaboration that enriches the profession.
11. Finally, as part of your award, you are being sponsored to take part in the International Congress in Bali and represent Great Britain in the International Young Concierge of the Year Competition; what do you hope to get out of this trip?
I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to represent Great Britain in the International Young Concierge of the Year Competition in Bali. I hope to learn from the world's best in the industry, forge global connections with fellow concierge, and bring back fresh ideas and experiences to further elevate the level of service we offer at The Londoner.
This trip is a chance for personal and professional growth, and I aim to showcase the exceptional hospitality that Great Britain has to offer on the global stage. Most importantly, I hope to do The Society of the Golden Keys Great Britain proud!"