Véronique Bourgeault, concierge at the Marriott Château Champlain Montréal, our Canadian nominee for the 2015 Andy Pongco Award shined in Mendoza and made us very proud throughout the International Congress. Canadian and International Members had the chance to follow her through the process on Véro’s Blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets. Many members commented that they almost felt like they were with her in Mendoza. It was a pleasure to collect her answers to our questions about her experience. here they are:
Why did you want to participate in the Andy Pongco Award (APA)?
The APA was a great opportunity to participate for the first time at an International Congress and meet Clefs d’Or concierges from all over the world! In addition, I love challenges and I wanted to give a try on this special experience. Maybe one day I’d like to work somewhere around the globe; With the APA, everyone sees you and notices your talents.
You were very active in the social medias and you even created a blog for the contest, how did you get this idea and what did you want to achieve by doing that?
What were the results and benefits of your media campaign?
I’m very active on social media, especially on Facebook. I wanted to combine my social media knowledge with my personality. As the Regional Secretary of Les Clefs d’Or Montréal, I’m attending a lot of events: Restaurants, attractions, cocktails, etc… I wanted the whole world to see what Les Clefs d’Or concierges are and what great tourism ambassadors they can be.
I was sharing not only the events, but also my thoughts and goals, so the concierges from all around the world could learn more about me, even before I got to the International Congress. What could be a better start than when it’s the people that come to you first at the opening cocktail, instead of you introducing yourself? So many members knew who I was already and were curious to learn more about me!
When I saw the good reactions on Facebook, I decided to extend my blogging to Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. I was not familiar with Twitter at that time, but with a little help from José Martinez, the Montréal concierge in charge of this media for our region, I was getting used to it.
By the way, I would like to thank all the Clefs d’Or Concierges from Canada and beyond that liked, retweeted and shared all of my posts.
Now, with all my new followers, I would like to take the opportunity to popularize the concierge career on social media. The world needs to know that we are there, in hotels all around the world, to make their stay in our cities wonderful. We are experts in our locations. A lot of people don’t even know that we exist! With social media now, you can reach everyone easily.
Did you find the testing part of the competition hard?
What part of the testing did you like most and is there something you found difficult?
There were 4 tests:
• The first part was about myself, my goals, my personality, and my experiences.
• The second one was about Les Clefs d’Or, UICH: The history, guidelines, achievements, main characters, etc…
• The third part was about our everyday job: A guest with many requests coming to your city., for example. This part was very creative and fun.
• The fourth one was the most difficult and challenging, but a very interesting part. It was about general knowledge: From history, geography and gastronomy, to recognizing airlines or hotel chains with the logos, or people just by their faces. Altogether, I think I spend over 20 hours doing these tests. My favorites were part 3 & 4.
The final challenge was the personal interview with the jury. It was very stressful, because nobody had any ideas about the questions they were going to ask. So we were studying a very large range of subjects, without any clues. I remember the last 10 minutes before the interview, with the wooden door close, waiting for my turn to enter. I was the first one, so the stress was not too bad. Finally, the interview went very well and I was able to calm down before entering the room. They asked questions about myself, my passion for my job and my hotel, as well as my secretary tasks.
Describe your interactions with the other participants? Did you make any friends?
Yes and I think they will be friends for life! As soon as we knew all the participants, we added them all on a What’s App group, so everyone could interact together before the competition. We were cheering each other up during the tests and chatting about our life and posting pictures. We were feeling like we knew each other before we ever met, even if we were almost 16 people on the same conversation, from all different time zones. There were a few of us in Buenos Aires, before the congress in Mendoza. So I met Sarah (USA), Alixandra (Great Britain) and Priscilla (Netherlands) before heading to Mendoza. Then, we met everyone before the opening cocktail for a group picture and we were trying to be together throughout the congress. We still exchange about our life on the same What’s App group, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
How do you feel about the results?
I think that the winner, my friend Sarah Dandashy from USA, is a good example of the future Clefs d’Or concierge and she did an amazing job on the APA. She is on another level than me on social media, with thousands of followers on Twitter. She is doing web capsules about what to do in LA, has a personal website and pages called Ask A Concierge. She was even carrying a Go Pro camera during the congress, asking the concierges from all around the world, what Clefs d’Or concierge meant to them. I think we were shinning together in that beautiful adventure.
She is a sunshine, with beautiful energy and passion. She definitely deserved it. I worked hard too, I loved the challenge and this contest gave me a boost on my career. In my opinion, we are all winners, because the results were very tight. We went through a lot of stress and emotions and finally, we are all passionate by what we are: young Clefs d’Or concierges.
Do you find that, overall, the experience was positive for you? What do you think it will bring you?
It was very positive for sure. I met concierges from all around the world and made good connection for my guests in Montréal. Someone asks me a question about an attraction in London? I know who to call. A guest is going to Indonesia in one of my Clefs d’Or colleague’s hotel? I’ll call him to make a link with our service in Montréal. This is amazing! I came back to work right after the congress and I never had so many good comments about my work. I had an energy boost and my passion almost doubled. I had so much love from everyone, this was like a bath of joy. Like I mentioned before, the APA is a good opportunity if I would like to work anywhere in the world one day. My LinkedIn connections have almost doubled since the beginning of this adventure. Finally, I made very good friends that I can’t wait to visit on a next personal travel!
Do you think the APA is an important part of the International Congresses and do you think it should continue to be organized?
Of course it should continuing to be organized. It features the future generation of Les Clefs d’Or, some fresh air! Everybody should encourage the nominees during the International Congresses because it’s a big challenge for them. I was very proud to be chosen by my country for this award.
Any suggestions to improve the contest?
No…I think that compared to the previous years, the APA was more publicized and put in first plan. This is a very important moment for nominees and they have to be supported and known by the International Congress attendees. It was well managed.
Any recommendations to the future participants?
If you are ready for a good challenge, apply for the next APA. Be ready for a lot of pressure, but it’s worth it. You get out of this process with a better knowledge of yourself, more passionate than ever and with friends from all around the world. Be prepared, it’s not easy, but it’s a beautiful personal achievement. The important thing is to be yourself and be as passionate as you are everyday in your concierge job. Vive Les Clefs d’Or!
National Blog Manager
Les Clefs d’Or Canada
Le St-Sulpice Hôtel Montréal