University Information Opens Concierge Desk at Mason Inn

Posted: July 27, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm

By Ethan Vaughan

University Information is busy throughout the year. The unit, which is part of University Relations, assists nearly one million callers and visitors annually.

With incoming freshmen arriving at Mason for the first time and thousands of students preparing to return for a new semester, the office ramps up its staff during the summer to meet the information needs of Virginia’s largest student population.

However, this summer has been even busier with new opportunities.

As part of this month’s successful opening of the state-of-the-art Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel, University Information has established a concierge desk as an added benefit to guests.

“The goal is to customize a certain level of service,” says Mariama Boney, director of University Information.

“When you have different audiences looking for different things, you have to establish rapport and a relationship. How do we distinguish ourselves from other hotels in the region? The concierge desk is basically an information desk that kicks it up a notch, and I think that distinguishes us.”

Boney says that the concierge desk differs from Mason’s other information desks in the breadth and depth of its focus.

“At our other information desks, we provide details, facts and figures focused on all of our campuses, including events and directions. The main focus is directing people to services, events and resources on all of our campuses,” says Boney.

“At the Mason Inn, we want to gain an understanding and relay information about what visitors can enjoy on the Fairfax Campus if they want to partake in recreation activities and quick dining options, use athletic facilities or attend performance events. However, we’re also expanding our knowledge base to understand the city and county of Fairfax and what they offer. Arlington, Prince William County and Washington, D.C., are also very close, so we’re trying to cover information that people want to know about within a 30-mile radius.”

Student interns at the concierge desk staff the desk eight hours a day, seven days a week. The students, who are majoring in management, tourism and events management or communication, undergo an extensive orientation. In addition to receiving hospitality and customer service training, the students tour Mason’s information facilities and event and recreation venues on all the campuses. They also tour Fairfax City and the county.

“We like to partner and reach out, and we ask that people share with us,” Boney says. “Information is changing so quickly; we could get the most random question and we need to know the answer. People should feel welcome to reach out to us. Our goal is to make sure we’re providing quality and accurate information. The only way we can do that is if we partner with other departments to get the information that is needed to better service the internal and external community.”

To share information with University Information, contact Boney at mboney@gmu.edu or the appropriate staff member.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu