Valet Parking

Posted by

Maybe this is the Canadian in me, but I am awe-struck by the pervasiveness of Valet Parking here in the United States. The shopping malls have valet parking. For a mere three bucks you get to spend less time walking and more time shopping. That was not a joke – at one of the shopping malls I went to, the sign read, “Valet Parking – spend more time shopping and less time looking for parking.”
OK, maybe, on a Saturday afternoon, if you have four kids, it’s worth it. But please, someone, explain to me how on a Sunday afternoon – with not a lot of cars anywhere to be seen – why people are using valet parking at a shopping mall? There are spots everywhere!
I’m also trying to figure out the marketing behind this. On paper it makes sense: Valet parking makes people feel special, you can just drive up, pass off the keys and walk in. It is convenient. But, to actually see it in action – at a shopping mall (which is pretty much four walls surrounded by tons of parking spaces) – is just plain weird. It makes me wonder about the marketing choices that people and businesses make.
How much does it cost to implement and maintain a valet parking service versus other marketing programs? How did valet parking make it to the top of the list and then to execution? Was this a customer demand or a business-created need?
I can’t, for the life of me, imagine ever using a valet parking service at a shopping mall. The main reason I go to shopping malls is because it’s always fairly easy to park.
On the other hand, they would not keep doing it if there wasn’t a need. I guess there’s a business for everything – especially one that blends laziness with a false sense of royalty. Whatever it takes to make sure people will come to your Macy’s or Bloomingdales… I guess.