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Rules to Follow When Tipping Valet – Complete Guide 2020
Valet service sets you up for a great start to an event. It takes the frustrating search for parking out of the equation, saving time and headaches. Plus, choosing valet service at a restaurant or hotel gives the occasion a bit more extravagance. Once you decide on using a valet, you may be left wondering, how much should you tip a valet, anyway? Figuring out tip etiquette is an important part of the equation to properly thanking your driver for great service, so read on to learn about the best way to approach it.
Wondering When to Tip Valet Drivers?
Since valet service includes both parking your car and also bringing it out to you, figuring out when to tip is something plenty of infrequent valet users wonder about. When you drop your car off, a valet driver will take it and park it for you. Should you tip this driver, or wait until the end of the night to tip the one who brings your car back out?
Some recommend tipping the driver that takes your vehicle, especially if you are hoping for a convenient spot that will make leaving faster or other favorable treatment. That is also your chance to ask for any favors or special requests as you hand over the keys. Adding a good tip can help make those requests happen.
Others say that it’s more customary to tip the driver who returns your car to you at the end of the event. If you only tip once, it should be when you receive your car back from the parking lot. Whether you tip both times or only upon receiving the car is mostly a matter of personal preference. If you want to be generous, feel free to tip both of them.
What if the Service Is Free?
Some events offer free valet parking. Even though the service is free, a tip is still standard for the service. Valets are still carefully parking your car for you, and potentially even helping you load or unload items from your car, so it’s important to acknowledge their help.
Tips for valets are completely separate from the cost of the service overall, and not proportional to each other. Valets rely on tips the way waiters do, so make sure to tip to avoid looking like a cheapskate.
How Much Do You Tip Valets?
Currently, standard tipping for valets ranges from $3 to $5. A poll conducted by AAA found that at 40%, a majority of readers normally tip $3 or $4. That means if you plan on tipping both drivers, you’ll tip each one around this range. This is the baseline, but if a driver goes truly above and beyond, you might want to recognize the effort and quality of service by increasing the tip to show your gratitude. It’s nice to encourage great service when it’s received. Some people think that tipping is a universal way to let someone know you appreciate their quality service. Giving a little extra might encourage that kind of service to extend far beyond our own experience.
As for how much to tip hotel valet drivers, it really depends on the situation. If you are parking at an especially fancy hotel with a valet who opens the door for you or goes out of his or her way to accommodate you, you might want to increase the tip accordingly. If you are staying at a hotel and relying on valet services multiple times a day, it is acceptable to tip less frequently, to avoid the cost adding up too quickly.
Should You Tip Extra for Special Circumstances?
There are plenty of potential situations where you might need to ask something specific from your driver. An appropriate tip for valet service depends on what you have asked of your driver, where you are, and other factors. If you need a valet to pick something up from your car, that might warrant an extra tip. If you ask to be parked near the front, your request will probably be taken more seriously if you give a larger tip.
If the weather is extreme, such as on a snowy or rainy night, you can factor this into your tipping, since valet service lets you bypass a chilly walk from the parking area to the event entrance. You can take the same approach to a busy parking lot, giving a higher tip for the benefit of avoiding a crowd.
Similarly, if you lose your parking ticket, the process of getting your car back will be longer and probably require paperwork of some kind. You’ll want to give a higher tip to the valet who helps you finally get your car back, to account for the longer amount of time spent on you and the inconvenience. Any extra help from a valet that extends beyond parking the car merits a larger tip.
Is It Best to Tip in Cash?
At plenty of restaurants and other stores, it’s common to give a tip via credit or debit instead of in cash. Most people carry less cash than they used to keep on them. That’s why if you know you plan to use valet service, it’s best to keep some small bills around in preparation.
You may be able to add a tip to your charge when you pay for the service itself, but it’s much more convenient to use cash upon pickup or dropoff of your car. That way, your specific driver gets the tip directly from you. Cash is more convenient and easier to deal with, both for you and the valet.
Is It Standard to Clean Out Your Car First?
Another question people often have about using a valet service is whether they should clean up before allowing a valet into the car. It will definitely be helpful to your valet if you keep the driver’s seat clean and free from trash and other items for ease of driving. Other than that, it depends on how comfortable you feel letting your valet see a pile of receipts or a messy backseat.
It is best practice to stow away valuables, either by placing them in a glove compartment or taking them with you. This is better both for you and your valet. It ensures you know where your items are, and it prevents the valet from worrying about being responsible for them. If something does turn up missing, it’s important to let the head valet know immediately, for insurance purposes. Valet services usually have insurance to protect them in the case of damage or lost items. The faster you let them know, the better your chances of getting results.
Is It Okay to Call Ahead?
If you have any specific questions about a particular location’s valet services, you can call ahead to find out the details. This will let you know if you can tip via credit card, what the parking area is like and any other information.
You can also call as you are on your way to the valet station to let them know you are coming. That way, you can reduce your waiting time and get your car more quickly once you arrive. This is especially helpful when you are expecting a big crowd of people all leaving at the same time.
Take Your Next Event To The Next Level With Elite Valet
Now that you know how much to tip a valet, you can confidently use their services the next time you want to treat yourself. For polite, friendly valet service, try Elite Valet at your next event. Contact us for more information and a quote.