Celebrating Les Clefs d’Or for Vera Jackson


Vera Jackson of the renowned InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport Hotel has been honoured with Les Clefs d’Or (Golden Keys) from the Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Vera is one in only four South African women to receive this prestigious accreditation.

The Society of the Golden Keys, recognisable to hotel guests all over the world by the cross keys worn on the lapel of the jacket of the Head Concierge, was formed in Great Britain in 1952. Sparingly awarded, the Golden Keys are symbols that recognise quality service and are worn only by those few who go beyond the call of duty.  With strict conditions of membership, requiring proof of professional relationships with guests and work colleagues, Tsogo Sun is delighted that 5 of the 8 active members in South Africa provides value to their guests every day!

We chatted to Vera about her achievement:

What does it take to be awarded Les Clefs d’Or?

In order to be awarded the Les Clefs d’Or you need to have five years service as a Concierge and be supported by two members of the Society.  Candidates are interviewed by members of the Committee to assess their competence, also their suitability. I also had to complete a questionnaire related to my role and write an essay as to why I would like to be part of the Society. I had a local interview with a current member and then an interview with the society members in the UK. Once my application was approved by the committee it went into a waiting period of a month to see if there were any objections and then finally I was awarded with my keys.

What does it feel like to be honoured in this way?

It is an incredible honour to receive this accolade and to be part of this prestigious society that was founded way back in 1929. It is the dream of every concierge member to wear Golden Keys and I am so proud to finally have achieved my goal. It inspires me to be even more devoted to delivering exceptional service and helping to create great memories for our guests.

As the fourth women in SA to be honoured with the Les Clefs d’Or, would you say more women should look to a career as a concierge?

Absolutely! The Society of the Golden Keys has traditionally been a male-dominated society however this has changed over the years and I believe that female concierge members can bring additional insight and value to our guests. We are known to be excellent multi-taskers and this is essential in the role of a Concierge member.

What would you say sets you apart as a concierge?

Our guests are well travelled and very often research the destination and attractions prior to arrival, it is up to myself and my team to add the personal touch to their stay and let them in on the best kept secrets. As a member of the Concierge team I have a knack of really connecting with guests and I am in the fortunate position of ensuring all their needs are met and their expectations are exceeded. I believe that one should never underestimate the impact of an act of kindness and this is what we do on a daily basis. Being the Head Concierge of an establishment is not just a job, it is a way of life. It is not a role that is contained within the walls of a hotel. It means that you are always searching for new ideas, opportunities, locations and hidden gems. You are always networking and adding names and numbers to your address book. It means that you have friends all around the globe. It means that you (willingly) never switch off because this role is part of you and in many ways defines who you are.