Valet Parking Tipping Etiquette

When dining out, how much do you tip your waiter or waitress?  Your bartender? How about a bellhop or a valet attendant when you check in to a hotel? What do you do if the service is exceptional? Mediocre? While tipping etiquette for food services is fairly well-known (typically 15-22%), the protocol for valet parking tipping is not.  Whether traveling for business or pleasure, meeting a client at a busy office campus or attending an exclusive party downtown, here are our Top 3 FAQs on tipping valet parking attendants:

Tip for Valet Attendant

1. How much should I tip a valet parking attendant?

As in other service industries, tipping a valet attendant is your way of showing appreciation for good (or great) service. The rule of thumb for tipping valets at hotels, restaurants and other venues is $1 – $3 if you are being charged to valet your car. If the valet service is free (such as if it’s provided by the venue), $5 would be a standard tip.

However, use your discretion to tip more if the attendants went above your expectations. For example, did your attendant hustle to get your car, or walk you to your destination under the protection of an umbrella during a downpour? Were they friendly and respectful? Did they help you with packages or heavy luggage? Help with directions? If so, you may want to tip more. For VIP-level service, valets can receive $10 – $20 from an appreciative customer.

Conversely, don’t feel obligated to tip if the service was sub-par. But remember, don’t blame the valet for mishaps out of their control (just like you shouldn’t blame the waitress for a chef’s poor recipe!). An example of such mishap would be when a significant traffic jam – due to poor planning by the event venue –  prevents a valet from bringing your car to you expeditiously.

Giving keys to valet attendant 2. Should I tip a valet attendant when dropping car off, or just when retrieving it?

While most people tend to tip upon picking up their vehicle rather than at drop-off, do what is most convenient for you. Also, don’t feel the need to tip every single time – such as when you are staying at a hotel. Sometimes customers choose to leave one sizable tip for their attendants at the end of their stay.

Valet attendant assisting parking3. Other than poor service, are there situations in which I would NOT tip a valet parking attendant?

Yes. In many corporate office campuses, the employer pays for valet services for its employees and visitors, and therefore may contractually prohibit the valet company from accepting tips. In such cases, the valet attendants, when offered a tip, should respectfully decline.

Additionally, for private events such as weddings, the host may have pre-arranged a gratuity charge with the valet company because they don’t want their guests feeling obligated to tip. In these situations, unlike with commercial valet operations, the valet parking attendants may still graciously accept tips but should first inform the guest that the service charge has been covered by the host.

At All About Parking, we park over 1,000,000 cars per year for many of the top employers in Silicon Valet as well as support thousands of private events each year. While many of our corporate accounts prohibit valet tipping, our recommended guideline for valet parking service when it’s acceptable is:

“Tips are never expected but always appreciated”