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Some people know exactly what their dream job is, and then there are people like Genevieve Archibald, who end up at their dream job without ever realizing they were headed in that direction.
Archibald works the concierge desk at Toronto’s Intercontinental Hotel, the culmination of more than 10 years working in the hospitality industry.
"There have been a couple of times when I’ve asked what would I do next, and I can’t even entertain the thought. I can’t imagine what would keep my interest long enough compared with what I’m doing now. It’s just way too exciting," she says.
Archibald first got into the hospitality industry as part of a high school student co-op program. She was placed at the Four Season’s hotel in Yorkville, and stayed there for over a year before moving to the Intercontinental.
Today, as a concierge, Archibald spends her time meeting the needs of hotel guests. With luminaries like Prime Minster Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Stephen Dion dropping by every so often, the job can prove to be quite taxing.
But Archibald’s work is made easier by the relationships it allows her to build.
"We are really fortunate at the concierge desk that people come to us as guests and actually want to form a friendship with us. They get to know us on a personal level and we get to know them on a personal level."
"For instance, the auto show (was just) here and we have one guest that’s here every year, and every single year we order flowers for his wife on Valentine’s Day," she says. "At this point, I don’t even have to ask for a credit card or address. He only needs to drop by and ask can we get this done."
Archibald’s ability to get things done is aided by her membership in Les Clefs d’Or, a prestigious association of concierges that meets once a month to exchange information and advice. It’s a membership that is not easy to come by.
"You need to have had at least two years experience working as a concierge and then you need to have been invited," Archibald explains.
After receiving an invitation to join, the concierge must then attend a year of meetings and give a speech in front of all the members. This process is repeated again the following year before full membership is granted.
Archibald, who became a full member of Les Clefs d’Or four years ago, wears two key-shaped pins on both lapels of her blazer to mark her membership.
"For the guests who understand the meaning of the keys they know they are dealing with somebody who has all of their best interests in mind and who takes the profession seriously" she says.