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Spotlight on People

InterContinental Dublin
Dublin City

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Spotlight on People
Spotlight on People - Valerie Keogh, Head Concierge at the InterContinental Dublin
Combining a lifelong interest in hospitality with an enthusiasm for Dublin’s cultural highlights
 Thurs 8th December 2022

Valerie Keogh, Head Concierge at the InterContinental Dublin shares insights into her career path, experiences, interests and learnings.

How long have you worked at InterContinental Dublin?

I have been with the InterContinental Dublin for four years.

How did you begin your career as a Concierge? Is it a career you always wanted to pursue?

Having moved from the National Gallery of Ireland managing press and communications following the completion of a major refurbishment project of the historic buildings at the Gallery, I embarked on a Masters in Hospitality Management and Tourism at Technological University of Ireland (TU Dublin). Hospitality has always been a big part of me growing up and has been in my family. It is an industry I wanted to learn more about and develop a career in.

Were you always interested in working in hotels?

Yes, it was an ambition to work in a hotel, especially having learned more about the business and completed a Masters in Hospitality and Management.

Where did your extensive knowledge of Dublin come from?

I have been in Dublin all my adult life, be it through education and professional work. It is a place I have grown familiar with throughout the years, and I love to learn about new places of interest to visit and experience, so I am delighted to pass on that knowledge to my colleagues and guests.

What is your top 3 attractions to recommend to guests?

This is a difficult one to answer as Dublin is such a vibrant city overflowing with great places to see and experience. It also depends on the particular interests of our guests during their stay in Dublin. The city sightseeing and walking tours are great as an introduction to all the attractions in the city. However, as we are in the heart of Georgian Dublin, I would recommend the lovely walk from the hotel towards the city, passing the Georgian quarter on Merrion Square (not forgetting to say ‘hello’ to Oscar Wilde en route!), where I would recommend a visit to the cultural attractions nearby, such as the National Gallery or Natural History Museum. Then amble through the courtyard of Trinity College Dublin and visit the beautiful library, the Book of Kells, and the nearby Little Museum of Dublin. For guests who may not have been to Dublin in some time, I would recommend a visit to the more recent attractions, such as the wonderful EPIC (Irish Emigration Museum) and Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI).

What are your top tips for exploring a new destination and finding attractions that appeal to you?

Plan a method of transport. Check to see if you get to that attraction or destination by walking, taking the train or bus. Check to see if there are visitor facilities on site, such as a café or is it near shops and restaurants, so that you can take in the whole experience of the place. It is good to check out an attraction or place as a whole, to see if it would appeal or suit groups of adults or families with children.

What is your favourite attraction/location/thing to visit/see in Dublin?

Picking a favourite attraction, place or experience is difficult, as there are so many amazing gems such as City Hall, the galleries and museums and cathedrals. Recent developments along the Docklands in Dublin are impressive, and especially the nearby attraction, EPIC (Irish Emigration Museum) on Custom House Quay in Dublin. The journey through the museum’s exhibits tells an authentic story of the Irish, and why so many millions of them left Ireland for whatever reason. Also the ‘Passport’ journey through the galleries is great fun, and is appealing to all.

What is your favourite time of the year at InterContinental Dublin and why?

I would have to say the summer months, in particular August as it is the month of the Annual Dublin International Horse Show at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), which takes place right beside InterContinental Dublin. It is our busiest time and also very exciting as guests attending the event and competing in the equestrian event, travel from all over the world to the Horse Show, which is the largest outdoor sporting event in Ireland.

Do you have a favourite memory that stands out when you think of your time at InterContinental Dublin?

There have been many great moments during my time here at InterContinental Dublin and many of those are very simple gestures from guests, reporting back to us on their great experience at the hotel, the welcoming staff or their travels around the country. There is however a particular moment that stands out for me, and that was on a particular occasion at the hotel, after COVID, when Hospitality reopened. Here at InterContinental Dublin, we are an established business hotel, and welcomed back many guests from the corporate world for their business meetings in Dublin. Many of these business individuals would not have been able to travel for networking meetings during COVID, relying exclusively on Zoom meetings with colleagues for over two years. Two such individual guests staying with us and attending a business meeting at the hotel were colleagues from the same company, and had not seen each other in person due to the restrictions with travel. I witnessed an extraordinary reunion in the Lobby between these two individuals. They were not just greeting each other with the usual handshake or an embrace, but they were crying with emotion as it was so long since they were able to stand in front of each other and speak with each other in person. It was a very moving and emotional moment, and they lingered there for quite a while, so delighted I suspect, to be in each other’s company again after so long.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to enter this industry?

Find out what type of work you have a passion for in hospitality, learn more about it, and be interested in the whole of the hotel and its operations, as this will give you a true insight into what to expect and could lead you to your niche interest. This could range from Accommodation, Reservations, Culinary, Marketing, Reception or Banqueting. You may also have a talent for Design, Engineering or IT, qualifications for which also contribute greatly to the operations of a hotel.

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