Don't be shy
They are there to help you, so don't think you're bothering them. "A great concierge is actually a magician," says Clarence McLeod, general manager of Azuridge Estate Hotel in Alberta's Rocky Mountain foothills and a former corporate director of Fairmont Gold, concierges and butlers. Services range from securing tickets to a sold-out show to something smaller but significant, such as ensuring a bottle of bubbly is on the table when you show up at a restaurant for that last-minute Valentine's Day booking the concierge made for you.
Form a relationship
"Rapport is vital. Get to know them by name. It's about personal relationships – after all, they don't have to use their magic on your behalf." For one special guest, McLeod remembers asking the chef to create a different dish of cookies each night after the traveller shared that his childhood was bereft of milk and cookies.
Think beyond the obvious
Wondering where to spot wildlife, find the perfect cup of coffee or go for a challenging run? A good concierge is intimately familiar with all facets of a destination – not just the hottest restaurants – and can be a terrific source of hidden gems.
Let them be a problem solver
If something goes wrong on your trip, let them help – especially in a city where you don't speak the language. Just imagine being able to start your sightseeing in, say, Beijing, as opposed to spending hours trying to track down a bag you accidentally left at the airport.
Spoil yourself with a butler
Many of us are shy about how to use butler service to its full potential. A step up from a concierge, McLeod says to think of a butler as a personal assistant, there to make your life simpler – whether that means packing your suitcase, shining shoes or bringing your favourite nightcap before bed. "Or get him to draw you a bath," McLeod says, "with a scent of your choice."