What Does a Concierge Do in a Hotel?

Have you every looked at the facilities and services offered by a luxurious five-star hotel and seen concierge service and wondered why this is so important or what a concierge actually does in a hotel? Having a concierge service can be beneficial and help you have a more relaxed, enjoyable and memorable stay.

A concierge works at a hotel deck where they provide clients with a range of services to help them have the best experience when visiting their location. This is very different from reception as they do not handle any administrative tasks within the hotel, so you cannot go to the concierge to book you in, but they will be able to provide you advice and assistance on the check in process and where to go to get booked in and taken to your room.

You will find that a concierge will have extensive area knowledge and be able to provide you with useful services, such as arranging a car hire for you on your chosen dates. You may be in a strange city and caught a taxi to your hotel and now you want to explore at your own pace without relying on someone else. They will be able to secure you the best deals so you are guaranteed to pay the best prices for hiring a car for the period that you need them for.

Another service provided by these hotel staff members is to arrange tours and book clients on tours. If you want to explore the area, see all the sights and enjoy a cost defective experience, then the concierge service will be able to assist you. You can discuss your tour requirements and expectations with the concierge and they will be able to make recommendations and point you in the right direction so you get the best experience.

A concierge will also book your spa treatments for you. Whether they have an on-site spa or they have access to a nearby spa. They will ensure you get the treatments you want whether it’s a relaxing massage or a cleansing facial. They will be able to provide you with information on pricing and more so you can make the right decision based on your particular needs.

Whether you want to dine in the hotel restaurant or you want to find a celebrity restaurant nearby, the concierge will not only be able to make recommendations but they will make your reservation for you, saving you time and energy in the long run and ensuring that you don’t have to run around making reservations when you are on holiday.

Depending on where you are staying, there may be shows, operas, ballets on that you want to see. If you want to see one of these shows, the concierge will be able to advise what is on and book your tickets to ensure you get the see the production you don’t want to miss.

A concierge is there to recommend and direct you. They are a wealth of information and they can help you with anything from finding the nearest train station to helping you find your way to the top sights and attractions. They will book your taxi, car hire service or make your restaurant reservations. These individuals are customer orientated and will go out of their way to ensure that all guests have the best stay when staying in their hotel.

Which Costa Rican Car Company Is Best?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica? Which company should you choose?

There are so many rent-a-car companies to choose from in Costa Rica – from the large international firms to the smaller national agencies. Reviews on the internet invariably either damn or sing the praises of each company to the extent of being almost useless. So how do you choose the best place to hire a car for your trip?

Many tourists that rent vehicles in Costa Rica complain that they have been ripped off when they realize the extra cost of insurance they are obliged to pay or that they have been charged a dollar rate that reflected the currency rate and not the quoted rate. Understanding the insurance laws and charges that bind the Costa Rican car rental companies may help you to ask the right questions when you are reserving your vehicle and avoid a nasty shock upon arrival. If a company is not upfront about its additional costs; you may wish to consider whether it is a company that you choose to take your business to.

I have worked within the tourism industry in Costa Rica for the last six years and have lived here since 2000. I am familiar with the feelings that many visitors to the country experience when dealing with rent-a-car companies. These can range from delight to discomfort to outright fury; sometimes due to the inefficiency, or even dishonesty of the rental agency, but also due to the renter’s lack of understanding of the legally binding restrictions within which Costa Rican car rental firms must work. I hope that while this article won’t guarantee you trouble-free vehicle rental; it might make you a more knowledgeable customer.

Insurance needs, additional costs in rental and surcharges are considered in more detail below:

Insurance:

Basic insurance is mandatory. Costa Rican law is very clear on this and your rental car company cannot allow you to leave with their car without having agreed to pay it. Expect to pay somewhere between $9 and $20 per day on top of your car rental rate. An honest, car rental agency will make this very clear in their pricing. If it is not clear whether the insurance is included in the rental cost; ask for clarification and be aware of other potentially unstated costs.

Check whether your insurance policy covers you to drive in Costa Rica. Some policies include Collision Damage Waivers and will cover Central America. If you are covered, bring proof (in writing) for your vehicle rental company. If not, consider whether you would be safer to pay the extra cost of this additional coverage. This part is not mandatory.

Zero liability is offered by rent-a-car companies. You may wish to consider whether you would feel more at ease knowing that you would not be liable for any costs should something occur while you are renting their vehicle. You are not obliged to buy this supplemental insurance.

Additional Fees:

Many car rental companies will charge additional fees for a child/baby seat, an additional driver, luggage racks or cooler. You can expect to pay up to $8 daily for each of these extras. Although by shopping around, you can find companies that will offer some or all for a lower price, or even free.

With Costa Rican roads being notoriously poorly signposted and the whole country operating on an address system based on landmarks rather than road names or numbers, a GPS is essential for many car renters. You will usually pay between $8 and $15 a day for this service. It is fairly common practice to allow renters to use one of their cell phones for the duration, but if you wish to use it for your own calls; you’ll obviously be charged.

Surcharges:

Some rental car companies incorporate taxes and additional fees into their rental cost; others don’t. Make sure you know what you will be charged for on top of your rental fee. Airport fees can be charged at 13% of your rental cost which is a sizable fee to pay in addition to an agreed rental charge. You may also be charged a license plate charge, environmental fee and/or any other charge that the rental car company has to meet (or pocket).

Prices for the rental will be given in US dollars, but as the local currency is colones, you should understand that exchange rates change daily and what you are charged on your credit card on the day of payment may vary slightly from what you were quoted.

Criteria for Rating Car Rental Companies:

For this article, three (3) main points were considered for each company:

1) Value: Is the rental rate competitive?

2) Efficiency: How fast do they respond to the needs of the client?

3) Transparency: How clear is the information provided by the company?

You may have your own criteria, but based on complaints from previous customers on community websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc., the requirements of those clients seemed mainly based around these three basic areas.

The companies surveyed below are a mix of local and international firms. Each company was researched based on a week’s rental of a Daihutsu Bego with mandatory insurance.

Dollar Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Extras are at average prices.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within 24 hours.

Transparency

- The prices for rental vehicles are displayed on site but a side box contains a ‘Daily RA’ with dollar amount. This is the mandatory insurance.

- Reservation price is listed as ‘Base rate’ and doesn’t include insurance.

- Dollar has received mixed reviews in sites such as Trip Advisor.

- A toll-free number is available.

Vamos Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Only GPS and cell phone use are charged. All other extras such as child seats are free.

Efficiency

- They have 3 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- The website clearly states prices and insurance.

- Toll-free number and live chat are provided.

Wild Rider:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- Additional driver is free.

Efficiency

- Email inquiry returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Prices are displayed very clearly onsite and include insurance.

- The company has almost 100% positive reviews, but with a fleet of only 30 vehicles and one central office; it may be difficult to help clients who are in difficulty outside the capital.

- They cannot provide a vehicle for the Liberia airport, just San Jose.

Budget:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extra charges for baby seat, additional driver etc.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- No prices displayed with vehicles information.

- Budget has received mixed reviews.

- Surprisingly for a large company, it provides no live chat or toll-free number for clients in the USA.

Service Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD including mandatory insurance and taxes.

- Extras such as additional driver and child seat are charged, but at cheaper rates than most companies.

Efficiency

- The company has 5 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

- Their rates are clearly shown on site.

- Service has received mainly positive reviews.

National Car Rental:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are priced a little above average.

Efficiency

- They have 23 office locations, although some are Alamo.

Transparency

- Price estimates online do not include insurance or additional charges; however, they are displayed in the full quotation.

- They have received mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and a toll-free number are provided.

Economy Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $200+ USD, but it seems possible to reserve a vehicle without inclusion of any insurance.

- Extras are average in price.

Efficiency

- They have 12 offices nationwide.

- Email inquiry returned within an hour, but email inquiring about insurance was not returned.

Transparency

- Website does not make mandatory insurance clear.

- Economy has numerous negative reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Hertz Costa Rica:

Value

- $400+ USD, but actual rental price is not made clear.

- Extras are pricey.

Efficiency

- 6 offices nationwide.

- No contact email.

- Telephone numbers are available for different offices around the country.

Transparency

- Very confusing quotation system. Two rates are offered for a vehicle and chosen dates. The cheaper option does not include mandatory insurance and it is in very small print under the final quotation price. The more expensive option includes non-mandatory insurance along with mandatory.

- Mixed reviews.

- Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Adobe Rent-A-Car:

Value

- $400+ USD.

- Extras are at low prices.

Efficiency

- The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

- Online estimate includes insurance.

- Adobe has received mixed reviews.

- A toll-free number is provided.

Tricolor Car Rental:

Value

- $300+ USD.

- No charge for pick-up or airport fees.

- Extras aren’t listed or provided in quotation email, although cell phone price is given.

Efficiency

- 3 offices nationwide.

- Email returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

- Website is not very user friendly.

- Reviews are mixed.

- Toll-free number is provided.

Finalizing the Three Criteria:

Economy, at first, appear to be the cheapest company to rent from, but unfortunately this is due to their failure to declare all costs incurred by the renter, rather than a genuine, good deal. For real value, Dollar, Vamos, Wild Rider and Tricolor come out on top for competitive pricing for the basic rental fee, plus mandatory insurance. Vamos is noticed for being the only firm that does not charge for extras such as a child seat or surcharges. Adobe and Service have low cost extras, whereas Hertz has the most expensive rates for extras. Wild Rider does not charge for an additional driver.

Only Economy failed to respond to email inquiry. All other companies responded quickly and with clear answers to inquiries. Wild Rider, as the smallest firm, cannot offer nationwide service, but reviews suggest that they have met customer needs to date. All other companies can offer services from offices in locations outside of the capital city — increasing their ability to serve clients effectively.

Adobe, Wild Rider, Vamos and Service have websites that clearly show rental prices and insurance. Economy and Hertz somehow seems to be deliberately misleading on their websites. The other companies’ websites provide the required information – even if it can take some time in hunting it down.

Conclusion:

This brief survey would suggest that Vamos, Service, Tricolor and Wild Rider would be the best companies to begin your rental research, whereas Economy would be best to avoid.

Now you know as much as I do! The information here is supposed to be your starting point and not the end point. Hopefully, you will know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a rental vehicle to ensure that your dream vacation begins smoothly without any nasty shocks, like hefty extra charges when you land. Enjoy the drive!

Work From Home, Online Employment

Working from home on the internet provides users with the convenience and job security they require. A home job that is done on the internet can be what you need to get you started on a career path that will lead to job satisfaction and success in every sense of the word. Building a successful online business takes time, hard work and some investment capital, though more time investment may remove the need for capital investment. The good thing about online businesses is that anybody can develop one and be a success in it without any qualification or heavy capital investment. An online job should be taken seriously if meaningful progress is to be made in good time. Online jobs are numerous and can be grouped into three categories which include; skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled jobs.

Skilled jobs: basically, a skilled job is one that requires a certain level of skill and certification to accomplish. Skilled jobs are for individuals who have acquired a high level of expertise in order to be able to carry out the duties required of such tasking jobs. These jobs may only be given to those who have the qualifications and the much needed experience that such jobs require for effective and satisfactory results to be obtained. Performance for certain skilled jobs online is at a very high level based on the job description. Certifications for many skilled jobs are acquired offline by attending educational institutions. Some skilled jobs can also be learned and certification given online after a mandatory learning process and examination has been passed. Examples of some skilled job services that are provided for online customers include; web designing; website security; professional services such as stock brokering and ecommerce services; program writing and networking among others.

Semi-skilled jobs: these are jobs that may or may not require certification for one to be able to accomplish. Semi-skilled service providers may be required to have a certain level of qualification in some quarters but may not need to have any qualification in others. Most semi-skilled jobs can be learned and certification provided for those who have passed online. Examples of semi-skilled jobs online include search engine optimization, copywriting and secretarial skills among others.

Unskilled jobs: these are job descriptions that can be done by anyone without any prior certification. Most online jobs are in the unskilled category and you do not need any qualifications to become a service provider. The vast majority of service providers in the unskilled category learn these jobs and become experts by continuously providing their services to customers. This is the main reason why the internet is seen as a very good avenue to develop a viable business. Unskilled jobs require little or no income to start practicing and in a very short period, depending on your work rate, you can earn considerable amounts of money from them. Almost every internet business has a link with an unskilled job description which makes it possible for everyone to benefit from providing any kind of service on the internet. Examples of unskilled jobs that have their roots on the internet include article writing, link building, blogging, lead generation and social networking among others.

The internet is a user friendly environment that helps a lot of people all over the world develop certain basic skills and earn a substantial living. Whether your skilled, semi- skilled or unskilled, there is a place for you in the online business world.

Living in the Philippines – Best "Passive" Businesses to Start

For those OFW’s and foreigners wishing to start a business, but not wishing to involve themselves with the stress of a business involving day-to-day operations, employees, landlords, inventory, and so forth, there are several available opportunities for foreigners living in the Philippines. Buy fixer upper properties, improve them, then rent or sell them.

1. Buy Fixer Upper Properties, Improve Them, Then Rent or Sell Them. This is a great business for those of you who have experience in your home country in buying, fixing up and renting or selling properties. Over the past 10 years, a lot of people got involved in this kind of business in their homeland.

With the overall economic problems in the world the past couple of years, the Philippines has not been immune, and there are a lot of properties in a state of disrepair, as well as lot of distressed and foreclosed properties.

2. Build An Apartelle. An Apartelle is an apartment building where all but one of the units are rented out long term, and you are left to operate on a nightly or weekly basis, like a hotel – hence the combined name of apartelle. These are common in the Philippines.

This business will require a heavier capital investment, yet with the right property and by focusing in the more rural areas or smaller cities, you can construct a small 4 unit apartment building for Peso 3,000,000 – not counting cost of the land.

You would want to rent out 3 units on a long term rental basis, and keep one for short term rentals – for the many traveling salesmen that frequent the countryside. They like booking into such short term apartelle units rather than the much more expensive hotels in the area.

3. Condotels. I have not given this business my “thumbs up” in all instances. Condotels have been heavily touted and promoted the past several years and there have been many, many new condominiums built in Manila, and now even in Cebu and starting in Davao.

The problem is that although the developers offer great down payment terms (usually around 30% down financed over 3 years) and in some cases carry back the mortgage and finance for perhaps 10 years, the interest rates are incredibly high, and the split of rentals with the management team runs around 50%/50%. There is also always a nominal monthly maintenance fee.

What looks like “cheap” entry point and cash flow out each month, in many cases simply becomes a bet on long term property appreciation – finding someone willing to pay you more for it than you paid for it.

This is because with all the inventory on hand, there is a surplus of condos which have been into hotel type rental pools, but not enough visitors to rent them all.

Consequently, what an investor thought would be a good positive cash cow, turns out to be a continuous negative cash flow – not what a new retiree to the Philippines is looking for to supplement his pension or annuity! This type investment will only drain you pension.

However, having written all this, I HAVE FOUND the past several month two exceptional condotel investments which DO meet my criteria of creating good ongoing rental income.

4. Farming. The likely cessation of the Agrarian Land Reform Program (CARP) will give the rural sector renewed confidence to invest in agricultural production capacity. CARP has held back investment in both production capacity as well as farm acquisition. An end to CARP will mean higher land prices since land will be valued for its higher income producing potential.

However, higher land prices are simply a “serendipity”, an added value, to the type of farming business I am writing about. I have found an extremely unique business opportunity, which will generate a great ROI (return on investment) and is completely passive. It has been structured by the developers (all foreigners) to be a one turnkey investment price. The price includes cost of the land, plus all

Clearing, planting, cultivation and harvesting for the first 5 years.

The business has been priced to fit the capital investment budget of the average foreigner retiree, and all landowners will be members of a cooperative which will share the farming equipment (tractors, equipment shed, and others). The farm will be “farmed” by the developer’s management team

The hottest trend now is in organic farming, and yet it is only in its infancy stage in the Philippines. There is one export product in particular which has caught my attention – the pili nut. The Philippines is the ONLY country with which produces and processes this nut in commercial quantity.

The current status of the pili is equivalent to that of the macadamia some 30 years ago. It has huge potential to develop into a major industry. They are in demand not only in Hong Kong and Taiwan but also in Singapore, Korea and Austria.