Pro Tip: Use "on demand" valet when attending a large event instead of the venue's valet service, or self-park!

I've seen it plenty of times... when an event ends, E V E R Y B O D Y is leaving at the same time. The unfortunate reality is it's likely some people will be standing around waiting for their car for a very long time.

Let's do some math:

Assume the event attendance took the valet manager by surprise, and two valets didn't show up for work...

  • 200 cars in the garage.
  • 10 valet workers.
  • of these 10, only 6 know how to drive a manual.
  • average retrieval time of 4 minutes.

That's 800 minutes of labor divided by 10 valets = an 80 minute backlog!

In this scenario, some people could be waiting an hour and twenty minutes for their car, if everything goes perfectly!

  • What happens if a key can't be found? Now we lose a couple workers while they try to find the key.
     
  • What if a car won't start? Now a valet is tied up with that.
     
  • What happens if a valet runs to get a car then discovers it's a car he can't drive because it's a stick-shift? This slows down the operation. 
     
  • What happens if the credit card processor is slow? And everybody wants to pay for their valet parking with a credit card?
     
  • What happens if there is a new cashier who doesn't know what they're doing, resulting in a long slow-moving line to pay. (People get mad.)
     
  • What happens if a new valet forgot to write the location coordinates for a car on the ticket? I'll tell you what happens... He spends 10 to 15 minutes running through the whole garage looking for it. This slows the whole operation down, because now they are short a worker.

And if the new guy did that to a number of valet tickets, it becomes a real monkey wrench in the operation.

With large events, not only do you face a long delay in having your car returned to you, you also are at heightened risk for damage, lost keys, and missing items. The risk your car will be stolen is also higher. And I will explain all of this in a moment.

My recommendation is to either self-park or use one of the new on-demand valet parking services, like Luxe, Zirx, Valet Anywhere, Caarbon, or BluCar. Luxe and Zirx are leading the field here and are operating out of a number of cities.

You download their app to your smartphone and arrange for one of the on-demand valets to meet-up with you at your venue. The valet worker will probably have easily identifiable attire, but an even better feature of their service is the valet will provide a handover code to you which verifies that they are indeed your properly assigned on-demand valet. 

They take your car to their parking facility while you stroll in and enjoy your event. When it is about time to leave, use the app to summon the return of your car. In the process, you completely sidestep all the other people waiting in line at the valet cashier's booth. 

If the on-demand valet service is working smoothly, your car will arrive in just a few minutes. The valet will ask for your handover code. If it is correct, the keys are yours and suddenly you are waving goodbye to the throngs of suckers who are still waiting for the venue's valet team to bring their car out. 

And a few of those people are probably going to wonder how in the world you left so quickly.

The required handover code ABSOLUTELY makes on-demand valet services safer. Your risk of a car thief getting your car is much lower compared to a regular valet service.

If you are a woman alone in a big city, opt for the on-demand valet parking if the service is available. It's certainly safer than self-parking in a big city garage. Safety is worth the money.

The crazy thing is... on-demand valet services are so aggressive in trying to expand their market-share that they are offering bargain prices. It's likely you will actually save a few dollars when using these services AND you will make your exit quicker. So this is a pretty good deal.

Now I mentioned earlier that typical valet services at large events can have issues...

Here's the situation:

They probably will have valet workers from other locations in the mix. These outsiders are not as familiar with this particular parking operation. They may not know where the danger spots in the garage are. They may not fully understand the system used in listing the location coordinates for the cars. This means they can easily write the wrong location coordinates on the ticket, which will cause your car to become temporarily lost. 

It is likely there will be a few rookies on this valet team. That's definitely not a good thing — since rookies are more likely to make mistakes and lose keys.

And when everybody arrives to the event at once, CHAOS ON THE DRIVEWAY is what comes next.

Cars are left unattended and running with the windows down. Your car could just sit on the driveway for 45 minutes with the engine running, where none of the valets realize it even has the keys inside of it. Anybody could hop in and drive it away. (And nobody would even realize it's missing until hours later, when you're ready to leave.)

When the driveway is clogged full of cars and cars are backed-up on to the street, things are in meltdown mode. It becomes an "all hands on deck" type of situation.

So now managers from the venue are pitching in, and they know very little about how the valet thing is done. They don't know the location coordinates system used, so they are likely to write the wrong location on the ticket, or completely forget to write a location at all. This can lead to you being very unhappy when you are ready to leave.

In the dire, hectic rush to move cars off the driveway, the cars are sometimes parked with a window mistakenly left down. They forget to lock the cars. Rain can get in. But so can passing street bums.

The boss yells at everybody to run faster (because he/she is going down in flames). Now chances are being taken and valets are parking cars where they shouldn't — in places where customers can get parking tickets.

And the rookies, in their haste, are more likely to make a mistake which leaves a vehicle with fresh, new damage.

Finally it's over. Everybody can catch their breath. But in the crazy rush, some of the valets wrote unreadable location coordinates on the tickets. So we have valet tickets with NO parking coordinates, INCORRECT parking coordinates, and UNREADABLE parking coordinates. It's going to be hard to find those cars.

Are you getting the picture? Valet parking at a large event is riskier. There is a greater chance...

  • your car will be stolen,
  • your keys will get lost,
  • your car will become lost, 
  • your car will get damaged,
  • your departure from the venue will be substantially delayed.

So if you will be valet parking at a large event, either be among the very first to leave or be mentally prepared to hang-out for a long time while you wait your turn for the valets to bring your car out.

My suggestion is to use an on-demand valet parking service instead, (which is completely independent from the venue). Your exit time will be much quicker and your chances of experiencing a problem will be reduced.

Or simply self-park! Everyday there are tons of people wishing they had self-parked. Slow service is the number one complaint on Twitter about valet parking services, and the service can be excruciatingly slow during an understaffed event.