Unit 15: Interview with a concierge

Listen to the recording as you read the text. Then complete the activities.

Presenter: Hello and welcome to another edition of ‘Talk Back’. Today we are talking about unusual requests and we are joined by Mark Tomas, a concierge from a well-known hotel in the city.

Concierge: Hello everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Presenter: So Mark, can you tell us which hotel you work in?

Concierge: I am afraid not. I will be telling you some true stories about some of our guests but as I still work there discretion is important.

Presenter: I understand completely. Well, I am sure our listeners would love to hear a little about the unusual requests you have had.

Concierge: In my time as a concierge we have had a lot of demanding guests staying with us and some of their requests were very strange. Once we had a couple who were planning their wedding reception at the hotel and they wanted a Spanish singer who they heard while they were on holiday in Spain the previous year. It took some time but we tracked down this man and arranged for him to play at the reception.

Presenter: You mean he flew over just for this reception?

Concierge: Exactly, it cost a lot but it was worth it. The couple were so happy.

Presenter: It sounds like you really did go the extra mile!

Concierge: Well, we always try our best to satisfy our guests.

Presenter: Have you ever let down a guest?

Concierge:Of course, sometimes a guest will ask for something which just isn’t possible. For example, several years ago we had a guest who arrived late at night after the kitchen had closed and demanded a vegan meal. When he made his booking he didn’t say anything about arriving late, so reception thought he was a no-show and cancelled his order. The only thing I could do was offer him one of our standard vegetarian options.

Presenter: Do you get many fussy eaters?

Concierge: Oh yes, especially recently. It seems that half of our guests are on one diet or another. It drives our chef crazy because he has to modify his dishes to suit the guest. Another problem, can come from guests who wake up in the night with a craving for a particular dish which isn’t on the room service menu.

Presenter: And what about outside of the restaurant. Are the guests as demanding when it comes to their rooms?

Concierge: Oh yes. We actually had a funny situation last week. A lady checked in and after looking at her room she came down and asked me to go up to her room with her. When we got there she explained that the room wrong. I asked why and she told me that according to Feng Shui, the furniture was in the wrong places and the flow of energy wasn’t good.

Presenter: How did you sort it out?

Concierge: I got two of the waiters and together we rearranged the entire room to her liking. It wasn’t easy but after 2 hours we had exceeded her expectations.

Presenter: I hope you got a good tip. Are all of the requests so difficult to fulfill?

Concierge: No, most of the time they are something small like a guest asking me to pop out and buy them a brand of cigarettes which we don’t stock in the hotel. Or that a particular item is included in the welcome basket. We also have guests whose only request is asking us to bend the rules and let them smoke on their balcony.

Presenter: Those sound easier enough. What was the hardest thing a guest has asked you to do?

Concierge: That’s easy. Well I am allergic to cats and we have a regular guest who always brings her 3 cats with her when she stays. Once, she asked me to take care of them while she went shopping. I spent two hours with the cats and then 3 days sneezing. It was horrible.

Presenter: Wow, that really is dedication to your job.