Anthony "Tony" Curtis, President of Classic Concierge and the Washington D.C. Chapter of the National Concierge Association (NCA), explains the difference between a corporate and hotel concierge, what NCA members can expect in 2018, and why having a passion for serving is important in the hospitality industry.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get started as a concierge? What attracted you to the industry?
I started working in the restaurant industry while I was still in college. After leaving school, I continued to work in restaurants until I came across a relatively new company called Classic Concierge. They happened to be recruiting at the time for entry-level concierges, and I decided to go for it! That was in 1992.
You’re now the president of Classic Concierge as well as the Washington, D.C., Chapter of the National Concierge Association (NCA). Tell us more about NCA.
The National Concierge Association is a networking organization for concierges of all types, including corporate, residential, hotel, medical and personal. We have chapters in Washington, Chicago, Las Vegas, Houston, Minneapolis and Arizona. We also have at-large members all over the U.S. and Canada. I have been a member since 2010 and have been the Washington, D.C. Chapter president since 2012. NCA has given me the opportunity to meet some incredible colleagues all over the country, not to mention the many service providers that I have been able to add to my contact list.
What can members of NCA expect in the new year during your presidency?
The new board of directors recently met to discuss the 2018 calendar. One thing that we all agreed on was that the chapter would be expanding their community outreach even more this year. We truly believe in the “boots on the ground” mindset. Having a food drive is great, but gathering members together to hand out the food is even better. We will once again be planning our famous Bachelor/Bachelorette auction to benefit the American Cancer Society. I encourage people to check out our Facebook page to keep up on what’s happening with the NCA DC Chapter.
How does being a corporate concierge differ from being a hotel concierge?
As a corporate/residential concierge, you get the opportunity to build a strong relationship with your clients because you see them on a daily basis. You learn their likes and dislikes and what services they require. You also have the opportunity to anticipate their needs because you know them. For example, in May, a client may mention that they are a huge Redskins fan. In August, your company happens to have face-value tickets for a pre-season game. Because you have built a professional relationship with this client, you proactively reach out to them to ask if they are interested in the tickets. This is the way you build a loyal clientele in the corporate/residential concierge industry.
What do you enjoy most about providing services to residents and corporations?
The joy in knowing that you have helped make someone’s day. We are all in the service industry, so if you don’t get a thrill out of helping people, then this may not be the career for you.
On the other end of the spectrum, what do you think is the most challenging aspect?
Keeping up with the ever-evolving needs of the clients. In today’s hospitality world, you are serving America’s greatest generation, baby boomers, generation X, millennials and generation Z all at the same time. You have to make sure you know your audience when dealing with a client. The manner in which you serve a baby boomer can be quite different from that of a younger generation.
Let’s talk tourism. Where should every first-time visitor go in D.C.? There are so many exciting areas these days, and each year seems to add more “must-see” attractions. That being said, a first-time visitor must check out the National Mall. The Mall is the best place to start. Tourists will find the iconic monuments and memorials, as well as many of the Smithsonian museums. You can have a picnic on the grounds, and if you time it right, you may even get to enjoy a festival there.
What’s your favorite hidden gem in D.C.?
My favorite hidden gem is the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. It's the former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heir to the Post cereal fortune. It is a stunning estate located a few blocks off Connecticut Avenue NW, nestled in a parklike setting. It is my favorite place to take any out-of-town guest.
What’s one of your proudest hospitality memories?
I was thrilled when the National Concierge Association honored me with the National Leadership Award in 2015 and when the owners of Classic Concierge named me president in 2011.
What’s the most unusual request you’ve received from a tenant?
I had a client that needed an anatomically correct cake for a bachelorette party. It wasn’t easy at that time to find a baker that offered “specialty” cakes, but after hours of searching(this was before Google, I was able to find the perfect bakery. I never saw a picture of it, but I know the client was pleased.
What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the hospitality industry?
I would advise anyone considering the hospitality industry to ask themselves if they have a passion for serving. If they don’t, then it’s only going to be a job in their eyes. If they do have that passion, then they may find themselves in a career in which they can grow for the next 25 years.
When you’re not working to ensure your tenants are receiving wonderful services, where can we find you?
I can usually be found in one of D.C.’s fabulous restaurants, consuming more calories than is good for me. I love living in the D.C. area at a time when we have become one of the hottest dining destinations in the country. It would have been difficult to think of D.C. as a "foodie" town in 1992, but fast-forward 26 years, and that's exactly what we are.