Hospitality

Business Travel Awards 2016: Best Hotel Concierge

Business Travel Awards 2016: Best Hotel Concierge
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This story appears in the May 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Akbar Yungai started as a bellhop, working his way up to the front desk at Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel, and is now on the brand’s elite Navigator program -- where, instead of standing behind a desk, the 30-year-old approaches guests and encourages them to leave the well-trodden tourist paths. 

How do you keep up with the newest things to recommend?

Before I go to work, I hit up an art gallery or a restaurant to see what it’s all about. Today I stopped by a bistro called Article 14, chatted with the owner, checked out the decor and menu. The hard thing for some people is researching stuff they’re not into -- like visiting the children’s museum if you don’t have kids -- but I love uncovering new gems. 

How do you approach guests who might not think to ask for help?

I spend a lot of time chatting with them in the lounge, and the front desk will sometimes alert me when someone asks a question, if they think I can elevate the service. One gentleman, when he was making his reservation, mentioned that it was a romantic trip with his girlfriend. So before they checked in, I set up his room with flowers, balloons and chocolate. Then while they were at dinner, I decked it out with rose petals on the floor, Champagne, strawberries and a bubble bath.

That sounds like quite the surprise.

Sometimes it’s the small moments that have the biggest impact. Last week a guest on business mentioned how disappointed he was that he didn’t have time to try some real Southern food. They were grabbing a quick lunch in our restaurant, so on my break I went to Mary Mac’s, which is the last standing tea room in Atlanta, and got them a fat piece of true peach cobbler and brought it back just as they were finishing lunch. It’s about going the extra mile. 

Check Out the 2016 Business Travel Award Winners

Edition: December 2016

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