The Extra Mile

The Society of the Golden Keys’ dedication to provide the impossible with a smile can only mean good news for the traveller

Bharat Rao strides through the ornate corridors of The Taj West End (Bangalore) with a never fading smile, enquiring after guests, taking down requests that seem improbable. Somebody asks for a reservation in an overbooked hotel in a faraway city. Someone else wonders whether an upgrade on his honeymoon flight is possible. Well, for Bharat Rao, the pair of Golden Keys pinned onto his suit, means everything is possible.

“We work through friendship and the idea is to never say ‘No’ to a guest,” says Bharat Rao, a two-year member of the elite Singapore chapter (India will get its own chapter this May at the 58th Les Clefs D’Or International Congress) of Les Clefs D’Or or The Society of the Golden Keys.

Started in 1929, The Society of the Golden Keys is an internationally entrenched concierge system that is solely dedicated to providing useful and indispensable services to business travellers and tourists. Explains Sandeep Chopra, a 26-year-old Golden Key member from The Oberoi (Bangalore), “The organisation has provided guests with unrelenting and uncompromising services. Through our shared resources and connect we endeavour to ‘wow’ such guests by way of sharing guest knowledge and preferences.”

With less than a hundred members in the country means that making it into the exclusive circle is no cakewalk. Arun Kumar Baidya, Hon. General Secretary, Concierge Association of India, Northern Region, spells out the rules, “A member needs to complete a minimum of three years at the Concierge desk to be an Adherent Member of the Society of the Golden Keys, and after minimum of two years as Adherent Member one could be considered for upgradation to Full Membership on the basis of his/her performance.”

Having passed the acid test Bharat Rao, Sandeep Chopra and Arun Kumar Baidya have been initiated into the fold with a grand pinning ceremony at Annual National Congress’ where they have promised to take the road less travelled to ensure that a guest’s every wish is fulfilled.

Stephen Fernandez, President Concierge Association of India, Member Les said,”What sets us apart from regular concierge services is our vast networking and resourcefulness that comes with experience. Our motto, ‘In Service through Friendship’ is based on links and bonds that we form not just with guests, but internally as well, and being a part of the Golden Key society gives one an advantage over regular concierge services. As a part of this international fraternity, we have a global exposure. Business Travellers usually travel on short notice. When they come to us, we’re like a one-stop shop for all their needs – be it booking tickets to making reservations for dinner. We take care of those needs by going the extra mile.Women, too, are a part of the Golden key. I’ve met several of them abroad. In India, there are around four who are part of this organisation.

We’re excited, proud and privileged to be the 42nd Indian member of this International society. India is fast growing and our experience in hospitality and culture is no less than its Western counterparts.”

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