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What a real-life Las Vegas ‘ninja’ (a.k.a. a hotel concierge) can do for you

Concierge director Anna Hersel
Concierge director Anna Hersel oversees a team at the Venetian.
(Jay Jones)

Concierges at Las Vegas resorts can get you reservations at hot restaurants and tickets to sold-out shows. But they do much grander things too. When a couple wanted something special for their daughter’s 21st birthday, the team at the Venetian sprang into action. “We came up with the idea of giving her a red carpet, celebrity welcome,” said Anna Hersel, director of concierge services. “There were hired paparazzi who were photographing her. [Hired fans] were asking for her autograph. She got to be the center of the universe.”

Concierges are ultimate insiders who know Vegas better than anything you can Google. “What I wish everyone knew is that the concierges ... are an untapped gold mine,” Hersel said. “We’re just this society of ninjas that gets things done for our guests.”

Caesars Palace concierge services
The entrance to the elegant concierge office at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.
(Jay Jones)

Over at Caesars Palace, a guest once asked Barb Lundberg whether he and 16 friends could meet the hosts of the History channel’s “Pawn Stars” TV show, which is set in Vegas. “I couldn’t get the pawn stars on the phone … so I literally had to go down to the pawn shop and waited until they came out,” Lundberg said. It paid off, and the guest got his wish.

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Need advice on how to create the perfect marriage proposal in Vegas? A concierge may suggest popping the question on the casino floor, or, for a more intimate setting, a guest room adorned with rose petals and a bathtub filled with bubbles or beer. Looking for an outdoor adventure beyond Hoover Dam or Red Rock Canyon? Your concierge may suggest lesser-known activities and venues, such as paddle boarding on Lake Las Vegas or hiking through the stunning red-rock terrain of Valley of Fire State Park.

“The landscape of Las Vegas changes in a blink,” said Lundberg. “Restaurants close. Shows move. … By touching base with your concierge, you’re not going to waste your time looking for something that’s no longer there.”

Brittney Reed
Brittney Reed heads the concierge team at the MGM Grand.
(Jay Jones)

When a guest makes a request, the response is always “absolutely,” said Brittney Reed, head concierge at MGM Grand. “If it’s legal, moral and ethical, and the guest can afford it, we can assist.”

How much do hotel guests use concierge services?

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Last year, Cornell University’s Hotel School asked more than 700 travelers at 33 hotels which amenities they anticipated using the most and the least. Concierges fell into the latter category, but their actions didn’t bear that out. “Unexpected underpredictions included lobby seating, valet parking, and concierge service, for which the percentage of guests expecting to use the service was noticeably smaller than the percentage who did use them,” the report said.

Some guests may be hesitant to stop by the concierge desk because they don’t understand his or her role. “They say they don’t know what it is, they don’t know what we do,” said Peter Sugg, head concierge at Caesars Palace.

How much should you expect to tip your concierge? The answer varies, depending on the request. “The recommendation is anywhere between $5 and $10, depending on the type of service or number of services,” the MGM Grand’s Reed said.

“The gratuity is always appreciated [but] it’s not expected,” Lundberg said. “I’ve gotten a gratuity for printing a boarding pass, and I’ve gotten a ‘thank you’ for planning a 10-day stay.”


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