Being a parking valet for a hotel has its ups and its downs. Valets have somewhat of a reputation as being the eyes and ears of the hotel. We are supposed to know every restaurant, bar, and fun spot in town. We are expected to be human GPS machines and be able to give directions to anywhere. Everybody has seen Fight Club, but few remember that Durden’s organization was run by valets. “Don’t worry about us sir, we’re solid.” The valet is such a necessary service to a hotel that many hotels outsource this function because it warrants a specialized approach. As a parking valet, it is important to master five distinct skills:
1. You must be athletic. On any eight hour shift I run approximately twenty miles which a good part of it is stairs. This doesn’t count the walking to the cars and standing the whole time. The only time I sit down is when I am parking a car. Which brings the next point.
2. Driving skills. You must be able to drive a manual transmission, use mirrors, be able to figure out controls of every type of vehicle, and just plain and simple, have a knack for operating a motor vehicle. Damage to guest’s vehicles is bad on many levels and valets that don’t drive well don’t last.
3. Communication skills. The parking valet’s job is customer service, with a smile. You are basically the first and last point of contact for the guest of the hotel. It is your responsibility to represent yourself and the hotel with an attitude of service.
4. Knowledge of the area is a must. People ask directions all the time so you simply have to know where you are. Most hotels have a concierge that is able to provide printed directions and recommendations for dining establishments and entertainment. However, a majority of guests want an opinion from someone that has actually been to the place they are being sent to. As a valet, it would be smart to have “go to places” for when guests ask for suggestions to breakfast, drinks, sports bars, etc.
5. Manage the driveway. Each valet area for any hotel is different but what remains the same is the need for space management. During busy times, the head valet must be able to organize the driveway in a manner that it is not blocked from through traffic. By keeping control of the drive, traffic flows and all is well. When there is blockage, mayhem ensues.
Being a parking valet is not altogether glamorous, however it can be really fun. I get to drive all sorts of nice vehicles. I meet a ton of interesting people. I work at a four star hotel surrounded by water with the classiest of amenities. Most of the people I work with have a great attitude and I spend all day out in the sun. Also, I make pretty decent money when it’s busy. Mastering these skills will turn you into a kick-ass valet.