Again and again and again, lousy valet service kills customer relationships.

The poor manner in which many aggrieved valet parking consumers are handled causes difficult-to-bear inconvenience, frustration and stress, which leads to negative word-of-mouth and unquantifiable loss of future business.

This car got a few scrapes in the right front area.

This car got a few scrapes in the right front area.

There is so much wrong with how valet parking is done, generally.

Here's an example I found on TripAdvisor.

The customer had a dinner reservation at a restaurant in Orlando, Florida. Valet parking was complimentary, but no valet worker was available to park the customer's car. A convenient space was right there however, so the customer parked and walked into the restaurant.

Upon leaving the restaurant, a valet yelled at the customer for parking in the wrong spot and implied that he had purposefully damaged their car as a part of his revenge.


That customer ended their TripAdvisor review with this promise: 

"I will NEVER eat at Vito's and continue to spread the word about Orlando Parking Services and Dejan's threats to our personal property." 

There is another complaint on TripAdvisor that was recently posted which describes how a Utah hotel was clearly at fault for damaging a customer's car. Video surveillance made it clear. Hotel employees confirmed they were liable. And then the customer's claim through the hotel was denied. The customer is so irritated by how they were treated that are looking to spread the story of their experience.

Guess who is never going back to that property, or any Hilton property? The customer wrote "...we have never had such bad service in our life at any hotel. "

This customer found new damage after he pulled away. The casino denied the claim. The customer has vowed that his business has been lost. What's missing from this third TripAdvisor review is whether the casino showed the video footage to prove that the damage was pre-existing.

I have the impression that a lot of casinos have a video camera system for documenting the condition of every vehicle they are parking. It's a tunnel of cameras that the valets drive the cars through. It appears access to this documentation was not provided to the victim. In the end, the customer feels that he has been completely wronged, and now this customer harbors ill will towards this casino.

With this hotel in Galveston, Texas, a valet customer promises they won't be returning after being made to wait over an hour for their car. Their experience at this property was clearly botched.

In this TripAdvisor review about the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel the valets could not wait to drive the customer's Shelby (when he asked them not to move it until he was ready). Later he heard them revving up his engine. He didn't like that. To make matters worse, management at the hotel opted not to post a management response to the customer's ONE STAR TripAdvisor review, and that can be interpreted as a bad sign about the hotel by TripAdvisor readers. 

Missteps connected with valet parking services happen all the time. But the damage spreads further and deeper when there is inadequate management follow-up. 

Here's a crazy idea...

What if there was a device that scanned every valet car upon arrival AND departure. The scans are compared automatically. If new damage is identified, "a damage concierge" proactively takes over and begins to make arrangements for a loaner car and for the repair to be made. And amenities are provided as a part of making the inconvenience and aggravation less severe for the customer.

The customer is kept in the loop about when their car is expected to be done. And when it is ready, the car is delivered to them and the rental is taken away without any further investment of the customer's time.

Then a handwritten apology letter is sent to the customer that asks the customer to return soon, along with an incentive to do so and a special reservation phone number or email solely for high priority customers.

Of course, as a part of correcting the situation, measures are taken so that the mistake made with that customer's car is not repeated.

(If there any valet people reading this, they are probably laughing right now... And no, I was not just hitting a bong. Crazy ideas come to me naturally.)

Here's another crazy idea...

Have a digital read-out inside every hotel room that shows the current retrieval time for valet parked cars—in real time—so that guests can plan accordingly and not be taken by surprise.

Show the smiling faces and names of the valet workers currently on duty—on the screen—with their stats, like they do with football or baseball players. And if there is a rush, put a scrolling message on the screen that says the valet team is hustling to bring the average retrieval time down.

Humanize it. Maybe even go a step further and have a video interview of each valet worker talking about... whatever. Their hobbies. Their pets. Their work philosophy. How much they enjoy their job, etc. Some guests would find that intriguing. And if there is a long wait, it might help pass the time while simultaneously helping to form a slight emotional bond with some of the employees.

And if the back-up is long, when guests realize that the workers seem like good, hard working people (from what they saw on their screen), they might be a little more tolerant of slow service.