Thank you very much to Les Clefs d’Or USA for my scholarship to attend the 61st annual UICH International Congress in Queenstown, New Zealand (April 7-12, 2013). I have had the honor of attending every international congress since my first in Vienna in 2007, and each one has been unique. Queenstown was such a magical place that it really brought everyone together, making it a wonderful congress.
As the plane started to get near, the view was spectacular and the Kiwis took great care of us from the moment we arrived. I had the pleasure of staying at the Crowne Plaza. My room had a wonderful view of the lake with a private balcony. As I arrived a day early, I was able to explore Queenstown. I took a tour out to a secret place and spent much needed quality time with friends who I only get to see once or twice a year, if that.
Once the Congress began, our days were filled with tours, gala dinners, educational seminars, and networking. We all went on a day trip to the wine country and historic Arrow Town — where gold was first found in New Zealand. That day, there was a group participation contest with the dancing local children. I won the contest and it was such great fun!
We also did things I have never before done in my life, like bungee jumping and shoot-over jets. Both were amazing. I’m not sure if I’ll ever bungee again; but I would do the shoot-over again in a heartbeat. It’s a thrilling speedboat ride that whisks you right up to the edge of a cliff at top speed before it u-turns away at just the last second.
Forbes (formerly AAA) had an educational seminar that included a list of “secret” questions and comments they use when rating properties. I learned that they want concierges to offer at least three options for any recommendation requests. We also broke up into groups of major hotel chains. The international Board and the New Zealand delegation really gave us an educational and exciting congress.
I even met Tom Wolfe, our first LCD USA member and the first President of the LCD USA section. He is an icon!
Our gala dinner was situated on top of the world, at the Skyline Center. We took gondola rides up and the view was spectacular!
I’ll always remember my special time in New Zealand and will be forever grateful to the Board of Les Clefs d’Or USA, who made it all possible for me.
I highly encourage each and every one of you to attend an international congress. You will not regret it!
In Service through friendship,
“Dai” Concierge, Daisaku Vondran