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Ask A Concierge: Interviewing The Jefferson's Chris Adcock

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[Jefferson Hotel Lead Concierge Chris Adcock in his element]

What's a day in the life like for a hotel concierge at a fancy (and essential) spot like The Jefferson? The frequent questions might not be terribly different than the ones natives receive when walking through Chinatown. However, it's those less common requests are what separates this position from the rest of the customer service positions in the District. That's what we learned from talking to The Jefferson's lead concierge, Chris Adcock.

Adcock started working at the Jefferson almost four years ago, a year after the post-renovation opening. His role as lead concierge came naturally as he's been in the D.C. hotel industry for twenty-nine years. He also comes from seven generations of local natives. Sadly, he couldn't comment on any celebrity appearances, but he did give a great insight as to the daily life of a concierge. Check out our interview with him after the jump.

Did you always know that you wanted to be in the hotel business?

Oh, no. Definitely not. It kind of evolved in school. My high school had a vocational program. It had a school attached to the school. You could pick a career and study that field on the high school level and they'd place you after high school into work. Initially, I wanted to be a landscape architect and that didn't go well because my math skills were not where they needed to be. So, I gave up on that. I was then a sophomore and the teacher said, "Why don't you try hotels because you're local and you need to finish one more year." That was that. Twenty-nine years later, I'm still in the business.

What is the most frequent request that you receive from guests?

I would say that it's a tie between directions and restaurants. That would be the main things. Then there's what we call the 'virtually impossible' things.

What are some of the virtually impossible things?

A tour of the White House. And this is last minute. They'll come to me and say, "I'd like a tour of the White House, today." I'm like, "Very, very sorry but that's out of my control and anyone else's, unfortunately." It's a process that takes three to six months in advance on a good day. Other than things like that, it's usually the basics. "Where are the monuments?" "Where are shopping areas?" Things like that.

Do you remember any particularly insane requests that you've had?

[Laughs] The book I could write. I guess insane being a relative term in my business. Most recently, during one of the early winter storms, a guest needed to get to West Virginia that day for a funeral and the airports were all closed, but I found a private jet that was willing to do that. I didn't know it at the time, but it was his son that he was going to unfortunately, lay to rest. It totally put a different spin on it. I thought he was just being eccentric and then I realized and went, "Oh. This is a big deal." That made me feel really good.

It's been a pretty quiet winter but I had to find a last minute ball gown. That was fun. It was for a function at the White House. A guest was here and she thought her housekeeper had packed her gown, and she didn't. She got here and basically said, "I don't have a gown. That I need tonight." So, that was fun.

Are there a lot of guests that come in that are going to things like White House functions?

Oh yes, definitely. I'd say, the White House Correspondents Dinner, State Dinners, personal invitations, we get all of it because we're so close, mainly. We like to think we're on the caliber of that type of guest, happily.

What is your favorite thing about this job?

Every day is different. It's not a monotonous job. It's not a boring job. Obviously, I am behind a desk, but it's not a desk job. I'm out of my desk more than I am sitting at my desk most days. It involves running around. I also, think the daily challenges [are a perk]. I'm not going to get the same questions every day. There's always different things to prioritize so that's the best part so far. It's not boring.