Successful management of a valet operation

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SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT OF A VALET OPERATION
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Richard Raskin
Richard Raskin joined Walker Parking Consultants in April 2000. He had previously worked for the Beverly Hilton Hotel in the capacity of Director of Guest Services for four years. Among his duties was the operation of the valet parking department and a500-space self-park garage. The valet operation was responsible for hotel guest parking, as well as valet parking for over 200 major events a year. These events included The Golden Globe Awards, and the Carousel of Hope – the largest charity ball in the world. The valet department at the Beverly Hilton was consistently judged to be one of the most courteous and efficient operations in the nation. Theparking department earned in excess of $2,400,000 in annual gross revenue. Richard had worked for Standard Parking as a Senior Manager from 1991 through 1997. He ran several high-profile office building parking facilities, before assuming the task of managing the valet operation, which numbered over 120 employees, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
Richard’s parking experience include theselection and installation of parking access and revenue control systems; auditing and maintaining cash controls; financial planning; personnel selection and training; facility maintenance; self-park, attendant-assist and valet operating environments; office, retail, hospitality and event demands; due diligence studies; operational reviews; marketing; and traffic flow planning.________________________________________________________________________
Introduction
Perhaps arguably, the three greatest innovations of modern civilization are air conditioning, the computer chip, and valet parking. Historians and academics may debate the merits of the former two and offer dissenting views. But anyone who has ever driven up to a restaurant on a bitter cold evening and discovered that awell-mannered and uniformed professional will rush to their vehicle, open their door, and cheerily wish them a good evening, will go to their last days believing that the latter is truly the pinnacle of the modern world.
Parking can be broken down into basic practices. The most prevalent method is self-parking, where patrons park their own vehicles and the parking operator’s responsibility is usuallylimited to collecting revenue and ensuring adequate lighting and service levels. Another approach, and the focus of this chapter, is valet parking.
Valet parking differs from self-parking in that the parking operator has the ultimate duty and responsibility to park and secure the patrons’ vehicles. With this responsibility a variety of additional needs and tasks are required of the operator.Service and performance are judged quite differently than in self-parking, and both the operator and the parking patron have heightened expectations. There are far more risks and exposure to expense in managing a valet operation. We will explore these in the sections ahead.
When To Implement a Valet Operation
Valet operations are best employed in settings when an enhanced level of service isdesired, or in parking operations in which an operator or facility owner needs to optimize use of limited or undesirable parking.
To best identify situations in which to establish a valet operation, we must first define what is meant by valet parking. True valet parking is defined by the parking patrons' use of a single drop-off and pick-up point for their vehicles. This site is referred to as theporte cochere, a French term describing a porch large enough for a carriage to pass through. However, in valet parking it refers both to the spot where patrons claim their vehicles, often a podium, and to the vehicle staging area in the vicinity. A porte cochere can have several lanes for both traffic and parking.
Portes cocheres are typically placed at the spot where it is most convenient for...
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