The term “concierge” comes from the French saying “comte des cierges” which translates to “keeper of the candles”. The comte des cierges of today may not be handing out candles – well, maybe in South Africa during load-shedding – but it is about catering to the needs of the guests. For 51-year-old Yusuf Jinoo, head concierge at the Radisson Blue Hotel Waterfront Cape Town, it is a career that has fulfilled his dreams.
“I used to be in the manufacturing industry and the company I worked for gave me the option of either moving to Johannesburg or losing my job,” says Jinoo. “As a born-and-bred Capetonian, I wasn’t interested. Luckily for me, a friend got me started in the concierge industry and it was the perfect fit.”
The role of concierge is more than just guest care, it is also about representing the ethos and culture of the hotel and the spirit of South Africa. Jinoo takes this role very seriously, especially as the head concierge where he has all the duties and responsibilities over the other members of the concierge team.
“This includes everything from advising and organising trips to the city’s attractions, both well known and hidden, to minor tasks like running errands for our guests,” he says. “This is the part of my job I love the most. I also manage and upskill the junior members of the team. I can barely begin to describe how fulfilling it is getting to work with, watch and help the members of the team grow in skills and confidence.”
The role of concierge may not be one that instantly stands out as trailblazing, but closer inspection reveals it to be a dynamic and important role that can change people’s perceptions and experiences. Jinoo is passionate about how he helps the junior members of his team and the remarkable city that he works in.
“The striking ocean views set the stage for a memorable stay in Cape Town and guests wake up to the sound of waves breaking on the shore before embarking on a day of exploration,” he concludes. “Starting my day knowing that I am going to make a difference in a guest’s day is what inspires me.”