16th Annual NCA Educational Conference


Full schedule and registration now online www.ncakey.org

Why go to Vegas? Being a brand new chapter director has been challenging – our board has all new directors, learning how to best work together for a large chapter’s needs. We believe we’re on a mission (to grow and strengthen the chapter), and we won’t quit – even though we may admit at times that we’re tired!

Recently, an NCA Executive Board member I’ve never met praised our chapter because we have such great meetings, fun special events, and a strong membership. We have the largest number of Certified Concierge and Endorsed Partners in the NCA! Many of our chapter concierge members are highly regarded throughout the country, heralding decades of professional experience. Our affiliate members completely “get it” – you get more out of an organization when you are an active member. Our strong affiliate membership consistently shows the concierge members why they’re the best vendors in the Twin Cities Metro.

So, you may be thinking, why go to the conference in Las Vegas? Is it worth the trip?

 If you’re a Certified Concierge, the answer is easy, for conference attendance fulfills your required continuing education credits for this year.

 If you’re a newer concierge, this educational conference builds upon the talents you have been developing, becoming the best concierge service ambassador possible.

 An affiliate member attending a concierge conference has multiple opportunities to network with concierge from across the country, expanding their company’s exposure to the best referral system in existence.

Going to the 2014 NCA Conference in Vegas gives us all a chance to learn about another city, make new (and cement existing) friendships, renew our spirits. Along the way, we’ll learn a new perspective on our growing profession and the service level required of lead-ers in the industry.

See you there!


A Letter from the President…

Please accept this letter as a big paper hug.

Those in the service industries (especially concierge, in my experience) work tirelessly every day to make others happy. At times, there’s a small gratuity and a quick smile. Sometimes, there’s appreciation and award for doing what’s in your soul – to do our best. Most times, our recognition is just the knowing that we get to do something we love and the world is better for it.

Our 2014 NCA-MN Chapter Board (go to www.ncakey.org and look for MN Chapter) has jumped in with both feet, ready to support our members (even with a hug) and work to grow the organization. Should you need ANYTHING, we are here to listen, counsel, and act in your best interests:

  • Director of Membership/New & Renewing Memberships and Certification – newly vacant, looking for help!
  • Director of Administration/Meeting Minutes (and All-Around Lifesaver!) – Allison S
  • Parliamentarian/Meeting Registration Table Guru – Sharon S
  • Marketing Committee Chair/Newsletter, Meeting Invitations, All Marketing – Karen R, with a great committee team!
  • Fundraising Committee Member/Idea-Generator – Sheila J
  • Affiliate Liaison/Affiliate Support and Endorsed Partner Assistance – Cory J
  • Past-President – Jane S
  • Vice President/Meeting Planner/Temporary Membership Director & My Right Arm – Jane S
  • President/Director of Finance/Grand Delegator and Whiz of Unusual Questions – Michelle McManus (that’s me)

Thank you for entrusting us with your organization. The MN-Chapter Board of Directors over the history of the organization (and it started HERE, you know!) have put their hearts into the industry, knowing that the extra hours worked keep the National Concierge Association a strong, relevant professional development organization – the best connection between concierges and affiliates – and a great place to find life-long friendship.

52 Ways To Use A Concierge

This is a guest post from one of my favorites in the concierge industry, Katharine C. Giovanni. She is smart and full of life, and I’m so glad that I’ve had the chance to learn from her!


One of the questions I get asked by the media is what does a concierge do?  The quick answer is that a concierge will do anything in the yellow pages as long as it’s legal, moral and ethical.

Everyone single one of us tries to squeeze 36 hours into a 24 hour day, and when you do that you inevitably don’t do it very well. You get stressed …

Which leads to tired …

Which leads to not eating healthy because you’re craving “comfort” food …

Which leads to sickness.

Not good!

A concierge is here to do the things that you have to, leaving you the time to do the things that you want to like spending more time with family and friends, putting more time in at the office, or relaxing with a good book!

That being said, below is a list of 52 ways you can use a concierge. Since the real list of what a concierge can do for you is endless, the list below is merely here to get you started.

  1. Obtaining tickets to concerts, special events and sporting events
  2. Transportation Services – train, plane or automobiles …    a concierge can get it!
  3. Travel and Vacation Planning
  4. Business Referral Service – need a landscaper or a plumber?
  5. Restaurant Recommendations and/or Reservations
  6. Pet services
  7. Internet Research – need research done and you don’t have the time to do it?
  8. Personalized shopping and delivery
  9. Running to the post office
  10. Dry cleaning pick-up and/or delivery
  11. Grocery shopping
  12. Running to the hardware store
  13. Senior care
  14. Modified house sitting – need someone to wait for the service technician while you’re at work?
  15. Picking up or returning a gift
  16. Meal Delivery
  17. Home Inventory – video the contents of your home and keep it in your safe deposit box
  18. Bill paying
  19. Auto Maintenance
  20. Home Organization
  21. Notary Services – many concierge area a traveling notary and can actually come to you.
  22. House Cleaning Services
  23. Courier/Delivery Services
  24. Delivering lunch to nurses and doctors at the hospital
  25. Delivering a Meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner
  26. Prescription Pick-up and delivery
  27. Repair and Service Calls
  28. Returning a library book or a video
  29. Sick Care – sick in bed? Call a concierge and they’ll do your errands, arrange for dinner to be delivered and can be on hand to help your family out
  30. New Mommy Services
  31. Meeting and Event Planning; private parties
  32. Personal Chef Services
  33. Single Parent Helper
  34. Employee Relocation Services
  35. Gift baskets and Flower Delivery
  36. Landscaping Services
  37. Special Day Reminder Service
  38. Charter a Private Jet, Yachts or Helicopter
  39. Hire a concierge to assist you at your event, wedding or conference – also called “event concierge” and “wedding concierge”
  40. Need Security?  They’ll hire a security company to assist you.
  41. Day Spa Services
  42. Fashion and/or Stylist Consultant
  43. Nanny Services
  44. Estate Planning
  45. Arrange for your Tee Time at the golf club
  46. Book your appointments for you
  47. Hire a Butler
  48. New to the area?  A concierge will give you a tour of the town
  49. Catering Services
  50. Get Away Weekends
  51. Office help
  52. Moving assistance – let your concierge unpack those boxes and put it all away!!  All you’ll need to unpack is your toothbrush.

If you are looking to hire a concierge, then I suggest you visit www.ICLMA.org and check out our international concierge directory. We have members from all over the world who can assist you.

Good Luck!

About the Author: Katharine is an award-winning author and the world’s leading concierge trainer and consultant as well as a Certified Concierge Specialist (CCS) and Speaker. She is one of the founders of Triangle Concierge and is the Chairman of the Board and Founder of the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association (ICLMA) as well as the author of several business books including her award-winning book Going Above and Beyond and The Concierge Manual.

5 Business Lessons Learned From Your Dog?

Whether or not you believe a dog is “man’s best friend,” there are a number of lessons we humans can learn from our loving canines:

1) Sniff out the competition. Yes, I know – dogs take this one a little too far! In business, however, you need to determine all the ways your competition can keep YOUR revenues down. In the concierge industry, “other, local concierge” serving the same target customer is the easy answer. But other factors are potential customers’ lack of knowledge of the industry, their difficulty (due to the lack of knowledge) seeing the great value in using a concierge service, and the very-common human trait of not being able to let go of the control in doing tasks themselves – even when delegating them to a trusted professional.

2) Be friendly to everyone. Whether a friend or stranger, approach each person with genuine courtesy and kindness. Not only will you become more memorable to those you meet, resulting in referrals and increased business, but your day will be much brighter!

3) Loyalty is rewarded. A small amount of time nurturing current customer relationships are far more beneficial (in both time and money resources) than spending all your time chasing new clients. My yellow lab definitely knows who to go for to get a walk, get fed, or get a belly rub.

4) Go ahead and show your teeth! Your business is the product of your hard work, sacrifice, and creativity – letting another borrow (aka: steal) your ideas or take advantage of your business should not be tolerated. As an example, according to the USPTO (uspto.gov), if you don’t defend a registered trademark you may lose it. Your intellectual property is valuable!

5) If abused – forgive, but don’t forget. Occasionally, we run into someone (personally or professionally) who shouldn’t be in our lives. Use such experiences to be stronger and prevent reoccurrences – but don’t hold onto the anger. Negativity only wears you down physically and mentally, and serves no purpose (after all – your foe doesn’t care if you’re mad!!).

6) Family is priority. If you sacrifice too much to get ahead, with whom will you share the glory? Balance your life and your life will be amazing!

What IS a concierge, anyway?

kon’ syerzh: Noun. 1) A caretaker of an apartment complex or small hotel, typically living on premises. 2) A hotel employee whose job is to assist guests by making theater and restaurant reservations, etc.

Boy, is that out of date!

Though concierge have been around for centuries (early concierge tended to castle-visiting nobles in the medieval era), the duties (and location) of a concierge have changed drastically. Today’s professional concierge is expected to “achieve the impossible”, dealing with any request (no matter how strange), relying on an extensive list of contacts with local merchants and service providers.

You can find a concierge in a hotel, residential complex, retail store or corporate lobby. You can even find them in their pyjamas at the computer (ahem – no pictures allowed!). A concierge is put in place (even if starting your own business) to provide the peak of service to the customer base. If someone uses the centuries-old title, they should always have the customer’s best interest at heart, without worrying about WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). Every (legal) request and its requestor is given the utmost respect and time deserved.

When is someone NOT a concierge? When they keep trying to steer you to buy their employer’s products, or stay at their employer’s hotel/apartment complex. When you, as a customer, don’t feel like you’re being listened to, or respected, or even liked. Lately, the job title is thrown about without thought.

We search, negotiate, plead and sometimes connive to get our customers what they want (though we stick to our good ethics and morals). We rarely give up. We want to make our customers happy – because when they’re happy, we’re ecstatic. We long to be appreciated (for you therapists out there, we know it may be an illness!), and love to see a smile – knowing we helped create it.

Don’t Just Roll the Dice!

What are the duties of a concierge?

The role of a concierge is that of a temporary personal assistant, local travel guide, and all around know-it-all. The job description for a concierge must contain a strong emphasis on customer service, a deep understanding of the areas in which they serve, and the ability to creatively think on their feet. This job description must also invariably contain the ability to network with local vendors for tickets, car rentals, and any other special needs of the customer – whether hotel guest, corporate employee, or family of five. The traits of a successful concierge include enthusiasm, shrewdness, and sincere drive to give the best service possible at all times.

The role of a concierge is to assure that customers get whatever they desire, within reason. Concierge duties may range from a task as small as giving directions to a nearby store to arranging a marriage proposal or wedding anniversary. Concierge duties also include trading and negotiating with other concierge and vendors to fulfill the needs of their customers for things such as great sports tickets, better theater seats, last-minute restaurant reservations, or sold out concert tickets. Finally, the role of a concierge may extend as far as providing personal shopping services, pet walking services, organizational tasks, and arranging medical or home care needs.

Before enlisting the services of a personal concierge (or lifestyle manager), do your due diligence: ask for references, check for insurance or bonding, and confirm business registration with your Secretary of State office. Any personal service business worth their weight (or their self-promotion!) will have done the prep work to ensure they remain in business, even during a recession.

At The Virtual Concierge, LLC, we perform background checks, call references, and receive insurance documentation from every partner vendor before allowing open communication with our company clients.

If you need a personal concierge or errand runner, feel free to email us at info@thevirtualconcierge.com. We are happy to refer you, free of charge, to a qualified service provider in your area.

Calling all excellent service providers!

We are now looking to bring in more vendor partners to service our customers. Any professional, successful service provider may apply. We only accept those with a license to operate a business in their state, with acceptable business and liability insurance coverage and demonstrable excellence in their field (letters of recommendation, published articles/interviews, etc.). We perform background checks and test providers in the field before allowing our clients to contact you.

There is no cost to be a vendor partner, just a drive towards providing excellent service to all.

Please email your interest to partners@thevirtualconcierge.com.

We look forward to working with you!

Organizing Pitfalls to Avoid

Helene Segura of Living Order San Antonio is a wonderful resource of best practices when organizing the chaos and clutter in your life. Here is a twist on that, which I found most appealing: what to avoid when trying to get all those ducks in a row:

  1. Not having a plan
  2. Not being realistic
  3. Being afraid to try something new
  4. Having an “all or nothing” mentality
  5. Not celebrating progress
  6. Holding onto the past
  7. Seeking perfection
  8. Making excuses instead of time
  9. Going it alone
  10. Not making decisions

For more details and insights from Helene, please visit her website at www.LivingOrder.com. We at The Virtual Concierge are at-the-ready with our team of partner vendors and referrals. Please feel free to contact us when we may help!