Concierge and Vice President of WACA, Tiffany Gary, lets us in on top attractions, industry tips and challenges throughout Washington D.C.
Introduce yourself! How did you get started as a concierge? What attracted you to the industry?
My journey to becoming a concierge began by accident. Before I started working for The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C. I interviewed for a position as a PBX operator handling a commercial telephone switching system. The human resources director found me humorous and offered me a position as a concierge.
My passion for hospitality comes from my grandmother, who retired from Marriott. I recall visiting her and seeing her Spirit to Serve Awards hanging on the wall. I remember thinking to myself—I want those when I grew up.
What attracted me most to the hospitality industry is the fact that I get to help people every day, and each day is different.
You are very active with the Washington Area Concierge Association (WACA). Tell us more about your position, and what your hopes are for the organization in 2018?
I’m honored to be the vice president of WACA this year. My position includes securing locations for our board and membership meetings. I’m also in charge of putting together this year’s trade show and gala. My hope for WACA is to show hotels how truly valuable and special the concierge position is.
How do you define excellence in service? What do you enjoy most about being a concierge?
The Ritz-Carlton company strives to provide guests with exceptional service and memorable experiences. Working at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. is an example of what “excellent service” is. To me, it’s making the impossible, possible. If you can’t make the impossible happen, then it’s my job as a concierge to fulfill our guest’s needs the best I can, and to ensure that they leave feeling happy and cared for.
What I love most about being a concierge is creating lasting relationship with both my guests and other ladies and gentlemen in the hotel industry.
On the other end of the spectrum, what do you think is the most challenging aspect?
So far for me the most challenging aspect has been trying to create relationships with a few of the newer restaurants in the area. Washington, D.C., is growing at a rapid pace, and it can be difficult to keep up. Thankfully, I’m up for the challenge and continue to work toward building strong relationships.
What’s the most unusual request you’ve received from a guest?
The most unusual request was to locate a “luxury doggie daycare and hotel.” The guest’s puppy traveled with a wardrobe and had a car (a Power Wheels Jeep). I was excited to fulfill this guest’s (and dog’s) wish!
You’re coming up on your second year at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. What makes your property stand out?
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. does an amazing job of putting together a team of extraordinary individuals who truly care about creating memorable experiences and moments for our guests. One of those moments happens every day at 5:30 p.m., when we present a display of favorite cookies of past or current presidents and first ladies, while playing Chuck Brown’s “We The People” in the lobby. This gives guests a taste of the District and its history.
Whether it’s a top restaurant or attraction, where should every visitor go at least once while visiting the D.C. area?
My favorite place to visit in D.C. is the Library of Congress. In my opinion, it’s one of the most visually stunning buildings in the District.
If a guest wants to spend the day like a local this, where should they go?
I love recommending half-day trips such as George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. The estate is amazing. The Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant is fantastic as well.
What’s one of your proudest hospitality or concierge memories?
My two proudest moments as a concierge was being nominated for the Silver Plume Award, and becoming the vice president of The Washington Area Concierge Association.
What’s the best advice you’ve received while working in the industry?
The best advice is that a good concierge is never not working.
What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the hospitality industry?
In order to be successful in this industry, you truly have to be a people person and have a passion for serving others.
When you’re not working to ensure your guests are enjoying their stay, where can we find you?
When I’m not working I’m either spending time with friends and family or enjoying a show at the Kennedy Center.