Valet parking finesse: How to get your car parked up-front. ($$$)

If you want to lower the chances of problems when valet parking, if you want to be assured of a fast exit when it is time to leave, then arranging for your car to be parked up-front is the way to go. But how do you do this?

Aston Martin and a Porsche, outside a Miami Beach hotel.

Aston Martin and a Porsche, outside a Miami Beach hotel.

If you ask to have it left up-front, the answer is going to be no. But if you have a twenty dollar bill in your hand when asking, the answer will probably be "Certainly we can leave it up-front for you. Thank you VERY much. Is there anything else I can do for you, sir/miss? My name is Steve. Anything I can do for you, you just let me know."

Understanding how to use the power and influence of the tip will open doors for you. It gets you recognized as being definitely more important than average, and it inspires better, faster, friendlier service where it is more likely you will be remembered by name. 

No, you don't need to be driving an Aston Martin or a Porsche to get those up-front spots. You could be driving a rusted-out 1976 four door Chevy Nova with half the hubcaps missing, a sun-cracked dashboard, the headliner fabric hanging down, and the interior loaded up with trash — hoarder style — and they'll still leave it out front for you! If you know how this game is played. (Yes, they will absolutely allow a piece-of-shit $100 car to be parked next to the high value cars.) Money talks. Money gets results.

Just so you know, there are SCHMUCKS with $100,000 cars who don't tip anything. Just because someone has the appearance of affluence, it doesn't mean they have class. 

Valets hate rich assholes who don't tip.

The car doesn't matter. It's the money that matters.

If YOU are handing them a twenty, that gets you instant cred as a player. A twenty and you're in, as long as space is available.

So don't be feeling like you're not worthy because you have an average car. If you've got the money and are ready to use it, then you are definitely worthy in the eyes of valet workers.

(In some places a twenty might not cut it, but that would be unusual.)

I worked at a fancy hotel. Our set-up was uncommon. The doormen controlled the driveway. When a customer rolled-up, the doorman would explain how valet parking worked and would hand them a valet parking claim ticket. The doormen were not permitted to say:

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"Instead of paying $30 to the hotel to valet park it for the day, why don't you just give ME a $20 (that I can put in my pocket) and I'll leave it right up-front for you in this prestigious space. You're car will be safer. There's no tipping our young and predominantly inexperienced monkey squad valets. In fact, I can GUARANTEE those uncaring stunt car drivers and car wreckers won't touch your car at all. AND you will have a fast exit when it is time to go. Wha-da-ya say?"

* * *

At this property, outright selling of up-front parking spaces was a big no-no. It was considered to be a job terminating offense.

But if the customer acted like they knew what they were doing and asked the doorman: "I'd really like it left up-front, Steve. Can this be done?" ...while handing over a twenty in a non-blatant way, this usually worked. And it was actually cheaper than using the valet service.

Pocketing cash from savvy guests who wanted an up-front spot was how the doormen made A PRETTY GOOD BUCK. 

(Unfortunately, the valets shared in none of that.)

When these in-the-know customers arrived out-front to reclaim their car, they dealt with the doormen, not us. The doormen would hand over their keys. No further tipping was required, (though of course a parting tip would not be refused). 

One time at around 10:50 on a busy Saturday night, the only doorman was tied up. A customer asked me if he and his friend could leave their cars out-front. I said no, because there were no spaces. Then he showed me a $100 bill and asked if it was now possible. I said YES! We definitely made space for those two cars, right out-front. In the primo spots. (And the valet team did get a piece of that.) 

Money talks.