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The hotel’s concierge team has been replaced by an outside company called Tickets & Tours, which in turn is owned by a company called Entertainment Benefits Group (yes, that EBG), self-described as a company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. Read more.

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.

Concierge

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.

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  • detroit1051

    This is a disaster, but I’m not surprised that Caesars is doing it. I can’t imagine Wynn or Bellagio doing it. I hope MGM Resorts doesn’t get any ideas. How can a guest trust any recommendation coming from a salesperson? So long, objectivity.

    • vitalvegas

      We’ve heard the Trop and Strat are in on this, too, but haven’t confirmed that.

  • DanShort

    Don’t you just love bashing your old employer? Is Paris and Planet Ho the only ones you know of or have you not looked into Caesars or the other properties?

    • vitalvegas

      Not bashing, just trying to get the word out. Caesars Palace still has a real concierge department.

  • Danyel Sheely

    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.

    • vitalvegas

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. We’ve included your thoughts in our updated post.

  • Mr. Bill

    I’m always amazed that large corporations seem to lose sight that customer service, regardless of the industry, is what builds the best and most lasting relationships – these people are on the front lines, and in the name of saving a few dollars, they’re willing to sacrifice things like this. I have to agree with Detroit1051 – the day the high end places do away with these things, we’re all in trouble!

  • Pete MacDaddy

    I have used the concierge in the past and found them to be extremely helpful and professional and I have often suggested to others to use their services – with this trend now I’m gonna be more than a little gun-shy about recommending it to others. If it’s just going to be sales people manning the concierge services I may as well go to the half price ticket places there will be less service and selection but at least I won’t be encouraging this pathetic trend.

    They way the casinos have been taken everything away of value I expect it’s only a matter of time before you have to rent towels for the showers in the rooms.

    • vitalvegas

      Sadly, true. This trend smells of WTF.

  • AccessVegas

    This has been going on for a while and is only getting worse. World travelers are used to getting authentic help from a concierge and this is just another thing about Las Vegas that can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.

    @DanShort Scott has been supportive of news about his former employer, sometimes almost to an irritating degree. (We probably didn’t need a new post for each and every single pod that went up on the Ferris wheel).

    Linq and Barbary Bill’s coverage has been extensive as well.

    For a while, there were some who wondered the opposite: Whether he was still working for them in an “independent” capacity.

    • vitalvegas

      Thanks for the comment! I assure you there’s no relationship between me and my former company. I try to be fair, and just have certain things I like (the wheel) and don’t (like the concierge thing), whether it involves the company or not. Given Caesars is half The Strip, it follows I’d write about it quite a bit, but I’ve tried to be an equal opportunity rabble-rouser. Appreciate hearing these thoughts!

  • Charlie Loeven

    I am convinced that there is no limit to the shameful things humans will commit to make profit at others expense.

  • Kristen Kristen

    As “one of these” concierges, can I just say that we are just like any other hard working person. Yes, we do sell show tickets and tours, but about 75% of our working day is helping guests with directions, special requests, and LOTS of other stuff that we do not make a “kick back” on. Yes, it is great if a guest walks up and wants to book a show or a tour, however that is NOT how the majority of our day is. We are not acting like “car salesmen” trying to “shove” shows & tours down their throat…as far as pretending to be an employee of the hotel, I am not here to judge on that, I am just trying to make a living so my kids don’t have to live on the streets!

    • vitalvegas

      Appreciate hearing your thoughts!

  • Brian Astern

    Just reading up on your post(s)! EBG is hurting employees that have been long fateful hotel employees that give great recommendations to guests! I have been to Las Vegas many times and have used company’s such as Grand- Adventures.com and Dean Outdoor.com and now see the affect it has on small independent company’s! Just recently I came to find out that a guide that worked for one of these company’s was just laid off because of the EBG takeover. EBG only recommends company’s that are in their small tight nit group that are raking it in on overpriced
    so-so tours! Travel’s need to be aware of this because it affects how Las Vegas is seen. People are losing their livelihoods because of corporate greed!

    • Appreciate hearing your thoughts on all this. This outsourcing of concierge services was a shocker to us.

  • Ameila

    I used to work for this company. Yes, they do sell shows, and book reservations for restaurants, etc. We are expected to help out Caesar’s Entertainment more than anyone. They wanted us to offer their shows first, their restaurants first, their nightclubs first, and with a lot of those did not always offer kick backs, or good commission. In fact, we were not allowed to take kick backs unless everyone else got it too. We could have gotten fired for that which I found unreasonable. 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 Caesar’s shows only. Same thing with restaurants, even if we thought they were over priced, 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. The hotel wouldn’t allow us to do a lot for the guests. Anything to do with the hotel accommodations, only front desk, we couldn’t do much on our own. I didn’t like the fact that we were supposed to act like we were apart 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.

    • Sorry to hear about those conditions, but thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. We don’t have a problem with ticket selling companies working with hotels, but it’s the pretense that these desks are concierge desks that causes the consternation. People think they’re getting the real opinions of trained concierge staff, which can lead to frustration and disappointment. Thanks, again, and glad to hear you’ve moved on!

  • cindir

    The same thing is happening in New Orleans hotels. Only it is not a ticket company doing buying out the desk – it is a tour company. This particular company offers great swamp tours and mediocre walking and city tours.. They block out all of the other companies, refusing to even have the brochures in the hotels. The desk attendants represent themselves as a true concierge. I view it as a scam and am appalled that hotels would allow it – but anything to make a buck and reduce their costs – damn the guest experience, I guess.

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