Dirty Little Secret: Some Las Vegas Hotels Outsource Their Concierge Services

It’s a bit of a dirty little secret on The Strip, but a number of high-profile Las Vegas hotels are quietly shutting down their internal concierge departments, replacing them with a third-party company whose sole mission is to sell show tickets and tours.

We first got wind of this concerning trend when Paris Las Vegas shut down its entire concierge department, then heard it would close its Rendezvous concierge lounge on the hotel’s 31st floor.

The hotel’s concierge team has been replaced by an outside company called Tickets & Tours, which in turn is owned by a company called Entertainment Benefits Group (yes, Entertainment Benefits Group), self-described as a company that “leverages substantial volume and buying power to maximize the benefits for its clients, supplier partners and end users through multiple brands and platforms.”

Note: We’re the “end users,” in case that was unclear.

Paris concierge
Caveat emptor, or some other pretentious Latin phrase related to whatever we’re talking about.

The concierges at all the Caesars Entertainment hotels in Las Vegas have also been replaced with sales teams from Tickets & Tours, or EBG, including Caesars, Bally’s, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris, The Linq (formerly The Quad), Planet Hollywood and Rio.

Caesars and EBG aren’t shy about letting it be known your concierge isn’t a real concierge. Entertainment Benefits Group.

The farming out of concierge services is clearly an effort by the hotels to generate revenue from what has traditionally been a free “amenity” provided to its customers. Free amenities, by definition, cost more money than they bring in. An internal concierge team is expensive in terms of salaries and benefits. Bringing in a vendor to staff a concierge desk bypasses those expenses, while also, we’re guessing, generating commissions from show tickets and tours sold by the outside entity.

And the circle of commerce is complete.

Think of it as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” but with concierges.

Remember, we’re not just talking about that other insidious Las Vegas trend here, the one where ticket-sellers set up “Information” desks in hotels, helping with directions to the restrooms while hawking show tickets.

No, the third-party salespeople we’re talking about are manning hotel concierge desks, wearing the same uniforms and name tags used by hotel employees, parading as concierges who train, often for years, to provide a variety of services to hotel guests based upon their insider knowledge, personal connections and “juice.”

Les Clefs d'Or
Elite concierges are awarded the Les Clefs d’Or, or “keys of gold,” after extensive training and testing. Salespersons, not so much.

Why should Vegas visitors care about all this?

Well, for one thing, the folks from Ticket & Tours identify themselves as concierges, not salespeople. Just ask a real concierge how they feel about that. At best, this is disingenuous. At worst, it reeks of a scam.

One Vital Vegas reader, a concierge, says, “This makes the genuine concierge look bad. We try hard to enhance the guest experience, and it is degrading to those of us who have put in the work to build honest recommendations. As a concierge, I am both speechless and insulted.”

A former employee of one of the faux concierge companies, Ameila, added, “I used to work for this company. Yes, they do sell shows and book reservations for restaurants, etc. We are expected to help out Caesars Entertainment more than anyone. They wanted us to offer their shows first, their restaurants first, their nightclubs first. Our opinion was biased on the shows we could offer. Someone would ask what we think is the best show in town. We couldn’t give our own answer, we had to suggest Caesars shows only. Same thing with restaurants, even if we thought they were over-priced, we still had to suggest their restaurants first. I was a ‘concierge’ at one of their hotels, and we were actually limited on what we could do. I didn’t like the fact we were supposed to act like we were a part of the hotel. We weren’t. We were a third party company who sold tickets and tours, and did customer service. Also the hourly pay, horrendous. Barely enough to live on. We lived on tips and commission.”

Make no mistake about it, the priority of these third-party companies is to sell tickets and tours. If you ask one of these faux concierges for their recommendation about the best show in Las Vegas, they might give what approximates an honest answer, but we suspect what they’re really recommending is the best show to which they sell tickets. Hardly an unbiased opinion.

Granted, even reputable concierges tend to nudge guests toward shows and tours and restaurants and clubs where they are likely to get a little kick-back. It’s not entirely objective and selfless.

But with real concierges, you at least get the sense they’re looking out for your best interests, most of the time. Their job is to ensure your visit is a happy and memorable one. To a genuine concierge, it matters if you have a good experience, and because they work for the hotel, they are accountable for their actions.

In the case of a third-party company, it’s not about service, it’s about selling something. Awesome.

Paris concierge
More like “Le WTF.”

The services available from salespeople are much more limited than what you can expect from a true concierge. Where can hotel guests get the services previously provided by the concierges? Your guess is as good as ours.

Part of what makes this new trend so unseemly is these ticket-sellers are relying on a hard-won tradition of trust between customers and concierges. Hotels are changing the game, often unbeknownst to their guests.

Ticket-selling vendors are also exploiting, and putting at risk, the relationship between customers and their hotel. Customer loyalty is built upon trust and goodwill, and hotels are risking both with this questionable practice.

Make sure you know what you’re getting into when you approach a concierge desk at a Las Vegas hotel! Inquire as to whether you’re dealing with a salesperson or a true concierge, and make your decisions accordingly.

What do you think? Do you use concierge services when you’re staying in a Las Vegas hotel? If so, does it matter if your concierge is someone trained and certified as a concierge? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.