When you go to the hotel, the restaurant or a bar, you usually wonder how much to tip the valet for taking care of your car, especially when you are in a foreign country where habits are different from one country to another. Guidelines included in this post will help you getting an idea on valet tipping etiquette.
How to become a valet attendant?
Before looking into the compensation, let’s check out how to become a valet in a luxury hotel or restaurant. To become a valet, you must already be a good driver and therefore have a driving license. To exercise the valet job, a strong car knowledge is a plus but not a mandatory requirement. In fact, there is no specific training course available to become a valet. If you know how to drive, you can be a valet. Being helpful, friendly and discreet are the main qualities of the valet. In general, the valet job is a gateway into a hotel and then evolve to the position of concierge or receptionist.
In which countries should I tip the valet?
First, while gratuity isn’t mandatory in a lot of countries, it is highly recommended as it is customary. This is a way to reward the valet for their hard work and the good level of service they can offer to you.
In USA, tipping is mandatory, except if you had a critical problem (like your vehicle was damaged). Valet payout in USA mainly comes from the tips so if you forget to tip the valet, his feeling will be that his job doesn’t deserve to be paid which is a major lack of respect. So don’t forget to tip in the USA.
In China, originally, tipping is not part of the culture but what you will find is that in hotels welcoming tourists, tipping is now quite common.
In Japan, tipping can be seen as an offense. So if you really want to tip, make sure to put the bills in an envelope or a tip jar.
In European countries, tipping is never really mandatory but it is quite common, especially in upscale properties.
What service can I expect from the tipped valet?
The valet parking attendant doesn’t only take care of your car but with the help of the bellboy, he will also carry your luggage. He can also quickly find a taxi which in some places is quite helpful during peak traffic hours. Then the valet can have your car washed or even repaired!
In big cities like Paris or New York, taking advantage of the valet parking service is a way to avoid the city parking cost but also the pain of finding a parking spot which is sometime just impossible.
I have seen several valets going the extra mile after a tip, well above and beyond expectations. They offered fresh water bottles for instance.
Should I tip the valet before or after?
Usually you tip after, to avoid double tipping. But splitting the tip is a way to lead to better service. Basically, tipping before shows your willingness to tip which will be especially appreciated in countries where valets tips are quite random. Then tipping only after will be good for you if you are a regular customer but it won’t help you much if you don’t plan to come back.
So tipping before is a good idea, it will allow your car and luggage to be handled properly. Then when you are staying in a hotel where the night costs more than 200 €, giving 5 € shouldn’t kill your budget. Then tipping after is a must in a lot of countries. To summarize, if you had plan 10 € of tipping budget for the valet, split it and give 5 € before and 5 € after. There is a positive effect of tipping twice, even if you give a smaller amount.
How much should I tip the valet?
There is no easy answer to that. You should adapt the tip to the circumstances. If you are staying for few days in a very luxurious hotel and you have a luxury car (Rolls Royce or Ferrari for instance), you will probably want to give a bit more than if you are staying for one night in a mid-range hotel with a small car. Then it also depends on the country. A 5 € tip won’t have the same impact for the valet overall income if it is given in Europe or in Africa.
So my rule of thumb is to give the equivalent of 1-2 € before and after if you are in a low cost country and 5 € before and after if you are in a high cost country. I believe this is appropriate and acceptable.
Any other advice to get the best valet service?
Valets are human as we are so being nice with them doesn’t cost anything but it will always pay. So smile, don’t be rude if they aren’t taking prompt action, you aren’t the only one waiting for them!
To make sure the holidays don’t become a nightmare, don’t leave any valuable in the car. 99% of the valets are honest employees but you’ll really want to avoid a dispute with the hotel. Then usually hotels will have some restrictions on how their responsibility can be engaged for goods stolen in their parking.
If you have a very expensive car and you are nervous about scratches, then take pictures of your car before handing it to the valet. This will be helpful in case of dispute. But the valets are usually quite used to drive different kind of cars so you shouldn’t worry too much. I haven’t heard a lot of bad stories about cars being damaged by valets.
What is the salary of a parking valet?
The tip often represents a very significant percentage of a valet income. It is a service job. He will often be willing to go that extra mile to accommodate you if you are grateful in return. All work deserves to be rewarded and for the valet, all work deserves a tip.
A helpful valet at a luxury hotel or restaurant may well earn a good living. His compensation in cash tips can reach several thousand dollars (2.000 to 5.000 $ depending on the type of customer and location). Valets income is particularly high in Las Vegas or Monaco.
Finally, remember that in some countries there is no minimum wage and therefore the valet is mainly paid with the tips received from customers.
So as you can see, there is no rule about gratuities but generally speaking, in theory as in practice, being generous will get you a better service.
I hope this valet tipping guide will be helpful for you! Those habits are also applicable to other jobs in the service industry such as bartenders, waiters, taxi drivers, bellhop, doorman, tour guides, etc…