As a rising senior excited to close the last chapter in his high school, I stood between a few paths the beginning of this summer. This is the last summer of high school; how do I make the most out of it? Some around me were adamant scholars; having finished 10 months of school, they were fixed on being in school for yet another 2 months. Personally, it was incomprehensible. Considering that the two months of time is a long enough time to try something new, adventurous, and simply unthought of, I decided to work for the minimum wage at a hotel in one of the busiest, as well as the most youthful, parts of Seoul, South Korea.
Working at a hotel as a so-called ‘bellboy’ requires unwavering dedication, boundless patience, and a paralyzed smile on your face. A hotel is a hub of everything; some may come for well-earned escape from daily life, others may seek and perceive a hotel as a part of their daily life. Among this confusing diversity, the concierge, to say the least, is an extremely interesting and uniform aspect of hotel experience.
Having begun working in the concierge on a hot summer day in June, I was able to experience the stress and business that accompanied the hotel work on my very first day. Guests requested to keep their baggages in the storage, employees were to be informed of the various artworks in the lobby, and of course, a bright smile was a must. Rainy days became exceptionally busy, when people frantically sought to borrow an umbrella from the concierge.
Despite all of the obvious stress that the concierge was exposed to, however, it seemed that the occupation seemed to be extremely underrated among the common population. When I made public my plan for the summer to those around me, some of the very first comments that I heard were, to say the least, discouraging. Don’t you just hold doors? Don’t you just stand around the lobby? It seemed that despite its paramount role to the hotel business, the concierge was belittled perhaps for its apparently monotonous appearance to many.
“Sometimes, it’s clear that people don’t think highly of this job,” said one employee whom I had worked with. Having worked in the hotel for about three years now, the employee requested to make the statement in an anonymous manner and be referred to as ‘John.’ “Some people even blatantly tell me that they think this job is unnecessary. It is really frustrating to hear those kinds of comments.”
Just as first impression is said to go a long way for an individual, the same rule applies for the hotels. When guests walk in through the main revolving doors of a hotel, the concierge is the first on the list in their assessment of the hotel. Simply helping the guests carry their luggages or holding the door isn’t their only job; contributing to the guests’ overall satisfaction towards the hotel is their primary role. People’s disregard towards the concierge must be abandoned, and they must realize that their comfort shares its root in the sweat of the concierge.
“We are the face of our hotel,” continued John, “and we have pride in that.”
Keebum Kim, Grade 11
Seoul International School