The definition of valet parking, per Merriam-Webster, is, “a service that provides parking of motor vehicles by an attendant”. When I’m asked at networking functions what I do for work I often reply with, “I park cars for a living”. While true (I mean; who am I to argue with Merriam-Webster or even myself?!), it’s so much more than that, particularly when referring to hotel valet parking.
Valet attendants are more than people who “park cars for a living”. When done properly, they create a warm welcoming environment upon arrival of the hotel, and a stress-free, efficient exit on the way out. The valet attendant serves as the first and last impression of the hotel they are serving and needs to be a seamless extension of the hotel. It’s more than parking cars for a living – it’s providing superior guest SERVICE.
There are many ways in which superior guest SERVICE, is provided. The following are a few actions that can be done to take SERVICE (there’s that word again!) to the next level:
- Aggressive Hospitality – Never allow a hotel guest to open their own door (car, hotel, or any other door), or spend any time on the hotel’s front drive unattended. There should be immediate contact with the guest. Be prepared to help them in any way including with their car, door, bags, etc.
- Amenities – I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love receiving something for free! Leave a couple bottles of water in the car, perhaps a mint, or something that adds a nice touch to the SERVICE.
- Technology – We’ve come a long way from a technology standpoint in the parking industry. When able to do so, technology should be used in the valet parking SERVICE to not only track the car that’s being parked, but to also provide the guest with an option to call for their car ahead of time. This reduces the time the guest must wait for their car and again, improves guest SERVICE (I hope you are catching on to the theme here!).
- Local Area & Hotel Knowledge – Valet attendants should have a good working knowledge of the area and the hotel they are working at. Often the hotel guest is from out of town and is looking for a recommendation on a local restaurant, or needs to find the meeting room their function is being held in. Having a valet attendant that can answer these questions provides another level of SERVICE that makes a positive impression on a guest.
These are just a few of the many ways of how valet parking cars at a hotel can be turned into providing superior guest SERVICE. While I’m still not willing to argue with Merriam-Webster on the definition of valet parking, perhaps I’ll have to rethink my typical response at my next party or networking event. After all, it’s much more than just “parking cars for a living”!