Reading unspoken words, one guest at a time


Kay Abe, Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s concierge, never says “no” to any question posed to her by hotel clients. She endeavors to read the mind of each client she meets — to guess what it is that the person in front of her really needs.

Abe first became interested in the profession of hotel concierge as a teenager when she traveled to Europe with her family for the first time. Her interest led her to join a hotel in 1992 and take on her first position as a concierge.

“I really enjoy my job. Making clients happy is what makes me happy in return,” said Abe. “I strive to provide the kind of hospitality that makes guests say they would like to return to Grand Hyatt Tokyo, the hotel with ‘that’ concierge team. And when they really do come back, it brings me so much joy,” Abe said.

“The innovative spirit, fast pace, multicultural experiences and friendliness while maintaining a sense of luxury, is what makes Grand Hyatt Tokyo unique and different from any other hotel,” stressed Abe.

The concierge desk deals with a wide range of matters daily, from answering simple questions such as directions to a particular destination, to more challenging ones such as choosing a restaurant that matches the mood of the client that day.

Abe says that she believes a combination of upholding professionalism and teamwork between concierges and other hotel staff, showing empathy and maintaining a happy team, makes it possible for them to fulfill each task.

When asked about how she handles international clients in comparison to Japanese ones, she responded: “To me it’s not about where they are from. I try not to generalize or approach them differently just because they are European or Asian, young or old. It’s more about treating each guest as an individual, being able to read their unspoken words and understand what they are really asking for.”

In 1997, Abe became an international member of Les Clef d’Or, an elite organization of concierges, and became the president of the Japan chapter the following year.

Abe has published several books on hospitality and customer service, and looking to the future, after 25 years of being a concierge, she hopes to continue her efforts of expanding the concierge network, nurturing young talent, advocating all that Japan has to offer and raising awareness of concierge activities in Japan.

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