The little-known event happens once every 2 years.
The National Parking Association recently issued a press release titled: "North America's Top Valet Parkers to Compete In National Valet Olympics."
From the release:
"Qualifying and participating in the Valet Olympics showcases the parking industry's excellence in valet parking on the national stage," said Amanda Cuddy, NPA Valet Olympics Committee Chair and human resources at LAZ Ultimate Hospitality.
If you're wondering WHAT I THINK of this reach for publicity, I think it's an amusing charade... that almost nobody cares about.
Making what are supposed to be your best valets run at full intensity with quick stops and turns, subjecting them to possible sprinting injuries like torn hamstrings and torn ACLs, while encouraging them to ram vehicle transmissions in and out of "drive" as fast as they can, and to also ram luggage into trunks as fast as they can ... seems kind of DUMB to me.
How does that all showcase the parking industry's excellence in valet parking? On a national stage? Is this like the X Games? Will it be on TV?
And what is the cash prize for winning, anyway? Or is this something else you all expect your workers to do for little or no pay?
"The parking industry's excellence in valet parking..." Nice spin, but it doesn't work on me. This industry has problems.
Good valet stories just aren't that common, like this one:
She felt relief that the valets didn't rip her off... (I'll take a guess she had a clue that this is what valets sometimes do.)
NOW THAT is someone who deserves an award and recognition, not valets at a meaningless sports competition that barely anyone outside of the NPA2015 bubble will see or know about.
Not valets who will be running with loaded luggage carts—which doesn't happen in real life.
Not valets who will be throwing luggage into trunks as fast as possible—which also doesn't happen in real life.
Not valets who will be ramming cars into gear as fast as possible and quickly hitting the gas pedal—which unfortunately does happen all the time in the real world.
Watching Youtube videos of past valet olympics reminded me of what happens in the real world when there is a desperate rush at a valet location: cars get driven hard. It isn't a pretty sight.
Excellence in valet parking is more of a dance than a race. Grace. Smoothness. Intelligence. Skill. Combined with the hospitality mindset. By valets who clearly know what they're doing. Who conduct themselves as professionals. And who get paid what professionals should.
That's where excellence in this business lies.
I will concede that somebody who can maneuver a car backwards through a slalom course without hitting the cones and then back it flawlessly into a space is something special when it comes to driving skill. That's not easy.
But overall, I think making it an athletic event, charging outsiders $4500 to send a team, and then publicizing the contest as a platform to "showcase the industry's excellence" ...is just silly.
If you all really want to raise the stature of the valet parking industry and make it have impact, you guys should try some different ideas. And try opening your eyes. There's a big reality gap between how you guys in the "C suite" see things and how things really are on the front lines.
P.S. I run across Twitter posts like these every day: