The new president of the Golden Keys Society, Madeleine Calon, is looking at its history to drive it forward.
Speaking to The Caterer, Calon, who is head concierge at the 60-bedroom, five-red-AA-star St James’s Hotel & Club in London, said she intends to restore the society’s archives to ensure it remains true to its original values, so that its history is accessible to new and future members.
“My main target is to ensure the history that established us nearly 66 years ago is shared with all future and new members, so they know where we’ve come from and what it’s taken to get us to 2018,” she said.
Some of the society’s original archives were destroyed in the 1980s in a fire at the then secretary’s home. Calon plans to restore them using newspaper archives and oral histories from retired members.
Calon has served as secretary, associate liaison and vice-president of the Golden Keys Society, and in her new role will represent Great Britain and the Commonwealth on the board of directors of Les Clefs d’Or at its annual international congress.
She is the first female president of the Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth and one of only 15 females of 386 members in Great Britain.
She said women may have formerly been put off pursuing a career as a concierge because of the job’s association with luggage teams, which is no longer the case. “We have a lot of young hospitality school graduates going in as concierge assistants and co-ordinators. The knowledge is what’s most important,” she said.
As president she is engaging with institutions such as the Edge Hotel School and recruitment fairs to encourage more young people into hospitality and the concierge profession.
She said: “In the UK we still haven’t managed to get away from the idea that a job in hospitality is not a career. For me, it’s been a very happy and successful career. And concierge is one of the few roles within the hotel where, irrespective of how senior you are, you still get great guest contact, which is why most people go into hotels. We need to encourage students into the hospitality industry, of all backgrounds and genders.
“My proudest moment was when I was announced as the next president – not the first female. It was about being the right person for the job, not my gender, and that meant a lot to me,” she added.
The Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth was founded in London in 1952 and was one of the founding members of the UICH (Union Internationale des Concierges d’Hôtels) Les Clefs d’Or, which aims to encourage friendships and networks among concierges, and provide development and training.
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