If your hotel concierge recommends a restaurant, can you trust the tip? Or does the concierge stand to gain from recommending one place over another?

I posed those questions to business travelers and to hotel industry professionals, wondering just how trustworthy concierge recommendations really are.

What I found is that travelers are pretty cynical about concierge recommendations, and they assume that most concierges accept comped meals once in awhile. And travelers wouldn't be surprised if some hotel concierges actually earn hard cash for steering guests to particular eating and drinking establishments.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, "hotel-employed concierges receive commissions of up to 15% on some bookings — say, from a limousine company." But the article notes that they have an incentive to keep guests happy so they'll return to the hotel.

The irony is that the era of the concierge as a local expert may be waning. As with booking flights and hotel rooms, the concierge's role as a guide is being supplanted by online services, not merely because travelers are doing their own research online, but because concierge services are being outsourced to online travel agencies such as Expedia or Vegas.com.

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