• Aug 10th 2006 at 10:06AM
  • 16
We have to admit that we've secretly pined for a position as a valet at some upscale nightclub or a sell-your-first-born-for-reservations restaurant. There is something intriguing about the prospect of rubbing elbows with the upper crust of socialites by driving their cherished rides that, in some cases, cost more than we'll see in net income over our lifetime.

Someone at Lexus PR seems to hold the lowly valet in similar standings, as evidenced by the site www.lexusvaletguide.com. As a way of stirring up interest in the new Lexus ES, the 38-page (gulp) downloadable handbook will clue you into the vast curiosities of the valet world with details about their lingo, proper tipping principles and how to score the much sought after "jewel case" space in the front.

The full PR-massaged press release is after the jump, which has some entertaining tidbits and a historical perspective of the valet from the mouth of its godfather. It's certainly worth the read.

Aug 9, 2006 05:00 America/Los_Angeles

Cool Tips, Hot Spots and Red Bowties

Lexus Offers Behind-the-Scenes Look at Valet Parking, Reveals Results of National Survey

TORRANCE, Calif., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- It's no longer just for red carpets and country clubs. As greater convenience becomes a factor in our increasingly active lives, valet parking is now on hand at health clubs, hair salons, sporting events, doctors' offices, even grocery stores and cinemas. For many, it's fast becoming a way of life.

So what happens once a car disappears into "Valet Land?" What are the insider secrets valets don't share with anyone? And what should savvy drivers know before turning over their keys to them?

To answer these questions and more, Lexus has chosen the launch of its all-new ES 350 luxury sedan to introduce The Lexus ES Insider's Guide to Valet Parking -- an entertaining and informative behind-the-scenes look at the world of valet parking. The 38-page guide, which is available for free download at www.LexusValetGuide.com, also includes results from a nationwide valet parking survey commissioned by the automaker.

The Inside Scoop

According to the National Parking Association, an estimated 200,000 men and women currently work as parking attendants in the United States.

"Valet parking is a common ritual, but there's not much information about it," said Bob Carter, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The guide has actually turned into a bit of an homage to parking attendants everywhere and uncovered both humorous and useful information for drivers."

Which car features excite valets the most? What's considered a good tip? Who gets the coveted upfront spot and why? It's all in the guide.

To examine regional differences on the valet scene, Lexus also dispatched journalist David Hochman to report on parking habits and traditions in four cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Hochman even spent a day "under cover" as a parking attendant at an upscale shopping center in Los Angeles, where he learned valet lingo (such as "Jewel Case," the premier parking spot) and the valet's mantra: "Smile, open door, greet, give ticket, rinse, repeat."

The guide also offers valuable advice from Herb Citrin, 83, a legend among parking attendants for having introduced the uniforms, the white-glove service and the name "valet parking" in the 1940s, and who has safely parked thousands upon thousands of vehicles.

Citrin is happy to report that 99.99 times out of a 100, valet attendants abide by the same basic principle he introduced at the first of what would become tens of thousands of valet-parking locations across America. "You give us your car," Citrin says with a proud smile any car owner would find reassuring, "We get it back to you safely." Although he does admit it's the one that got away that still haunts him.

It was the summer of 1965, and Citrin got a frantic call from a garage manager at a Polynesian restaurant in Marina del Rey, Calif. "One of our valets forgot to set the brake on a vintage 1937 luxury coupe in what kids used to call 'cherry condition,'" recalls Citrin, now a consultant for Valet Parking Services in Los Angeles, a company he founded in 1946. "It rolled down an incline and ended up in 15 feet of seawater."

Fortunately, mishaps like that occur once in a lifetime, if that. As John Van Horn, editor and publisher of Parking Today, an industry trade magazine, puts it, "Most valets are exceptional drivers because all they do is drive cars all day."

The Survey -- What Americans Nationwide Have to Say

On average, 61 percent of Americans use valet parking, according to a wide-ranging survey on parking habits and concerns conducted exclusively for the Lexus guide by Kelton Research.

The survey also found that Americans tip valets an average of $3 per vehicle, and 73 percent are confident that when they tip, they are tipping the right person the right amount. For most of us, manners matter most as the vast majority of Americans (87 percent) feel that the friendliness and politeness of the valet is the biggest factor in determining how large a tip one should leave.

Nationally, Northeasterners rely on valets the most (only 27 percent of them say they never use a valet). And, surprisingly, speed isn't much of a factor in customer satisfaction, the survey found. Americans are willing to wait up to an average of nine minutes for the valet to return their cars before becoming impatient, though younger drivers (ages 18 to 34) will wait only five minutes before getting antsy.

Then there's "car shame," that nagging feeling that the valet is judging one's vehicle. Interestingly, women are twice as prone to suffer from car shame as men.

What's the biggest fear about valets? That they take the nicest cars out for joyrides (64 percent think it's at least a possibility). One in two surveyed also worries the car will be returned damaged.

Martin Stein, president of the American Parking Association, encourages drivers to take notice of any attendant before handing over the keys. "Look for corporate uniforms and professional-looking valet signage, while checking to see if keys are securely managed and noting if there are sufficient attendants," he says. "You expect a level of comfort knowing you'll be taken care of, and you want your car back exactly the way you left it."

About the New ES

The third Lexus model to evolve out of the L-finesse design language, the all-new ES 350 emphasizes simplicity and contrasts in its significant design changes. From the first-time offering of a panoramic glass roof that covers the entire cabin to the distinctive wrap-around tail lamps and the low grille position below the headlights, the fifth-generation ES has been completely redesigned for a supremely confident stance.

"The ES redesign features sweeping curves and sculpted countercurves to convey a sense of graceful movement, with every curve drawn to inspire longing," says Carter. "Complementing the design are advanced, intuitive safety, performance and convenience technologies that allow the ES to respond as if it knows each driver personally."

The Lexus L-finesse design language is unique to all new-generation Lexus sedans and has its roots in balancing contrasting elements. The long hood, pulled-back cabin and short rear deck of the ES 350 are characteristic of the new L-finesse design theme, which recalls classic sports car proportions in a contemporary look.

About Lexus

Lexus has become synonymous with luxury since its introduction in 1989. By offering some of the finest quality luxury vehicles and providing benchmark customer service, Lexus has become the top-selling luxury nameplate in the United States for six years in a row. Lexus and its 220 dealers have repeatedly achieved high honors for both the products they sell and the customer service they provide as rated by the independent research firm of J.D. Power and Associates.

Source: Lexus

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      At a hotel you might to tip when picking up and dropping off if they help you unload/load your luggage as well as opening the doors. Also when staying at a hotel it is unlikely that the same valets will be working when you check-in and check-out, whereas a club/restaraunt valet is usually there the length of time you are.

      Tipping at arrival might ensure some good treatment, but tipping upon departure allows you to make sure you are tipping for good service. Which comes first, the good treatment or the good tip? I really don't know...

      Do Valets keep a (mental) list of bad tippers? I know a waitress who says she mentally remembers bad tippers, but I don't think I frequent the clubs often enough to be remembered. I think that "tip shame" screams dirtbag more than "car shame".
      • 9 Years Ago
      #2- gbh....

      i valet part time, and neither i or my coworkers have ever stolen anything, if anything valets are more cautious when driving others cars. if i so much as scratched someone elses car as i was valeting my boss would most likely fire me.

      heres a tip to people who valet their cars..if the valet is "complimentary" a 3-5+ dollar tip is very welcome. usually people tip after they receive their car (on the way home), but people who tip when leaving the car to us usually get a spot up close, so they arent waiting as long later to get their car. if you have to pay for valet...again just tip 3-5 dollars. as long as its not a dollar or a handshake.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I was a hotel valet and doorman in college. Here's the dirty little secret for getting that up front parking space (we had an upscale restaurant too):


      I'd put a rusted oYugo up front if he flashed me enough dough. Back in my day (early 90's) $20 would do it, maybe it takes more now.

      For the record, the most arrogant drivers I saw were 911 drivers. They always wanted the up front spot, but wouldn't flash any money up front. Assuming they're gonna 'take care of you', I'd leave them up front. Then you'd pull ther car out of that prime real estate when they came out and they'd give ya like $2.

      If you want special tratment, tip good up front, but the usual practice is to tip at pick up.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Well, parts of the story are semi-interesting -- the journalist trying to put together a story about valet parking -- but all the mentions of Lexus are just insufferable.

      Owning a Lexus is the most mediocre of aspirations -- it's a nice car, but so is a Camry.

      • 9 Years Ago
      Have to agree with #10... I read the damn thing and I want those 5 minutes of my life back. I worked as a valet part time in school (in New Orleans) and we would have NEVER been excited about a Lexus ES. We had a Maserati Quattroporte once, that was pretty cool. Crappy PDF made worse by the Lexus propaganada.
      • 9 Years Ago
      A actually read the PDF. That's 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back. My good Karma thing today is warning YOU of the same 5 minute theft.
      • 9 Years Ago
      This is just another example of how pompous Lexus drivers are.

      While studying for my masters I had the opportunity to meet with the VP of teh Americas division of Lexus. He was insistint that drivers of Lexus cars were stuck up and that they were content knowing that they were driving the best car on the planet and would rather not have any badging on the car indicating its status. His perception of Lexus drivers was that they were self-centered, self-actualized individuals who not only thought, but 'knew' they were the best people on Earth.

      This was such a turnoff that the VP of a company thought that his customers were so much better than everyone else.

      I have no problem saying that Lexus makes a nice luxury car, but it is by no means the end-all be-all in the automotive world. Frankly I don't think any one company can claim that.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "they were content knowing that they were driving the best car on the planet and would rather not have any badging on the car indicating its status."
      No 1
      The term for that kind of attitude is UNPRETENTIOUS, and that is not a bad thing.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I only see 23 pages... who said 38? I hope I'm not missing any critical information! *gasp*
      • 9 Years Ago
      Valet: A man's male servant, who takes care of his clothes and performs other personal services.

      Parker: One who puts or leaves (a vehicle) for a time in a certain location.

      If it's really a valet, I'd also like my chrome buffed, there's a good fellow.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I used to OWN a valet parking company, and I have never heard any of those terms being used. What a load.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I fail to see how using a valet is pompous. It's no more pompous than tipping a waiter. If anything, kudos to Lexus for writing a PR piece that educates citizens as to what to expect and how to tip. It's sad that more people don't know what to do when they vallet their car.
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