People are Traveling Again, is Your Valet Service Ready?
June 9, 2021
In March of 2021, U.S. air travel reached its highest levels since the pandemic began. Now that summer travel season is here and vaccines are becoming more widely available, tourism is gearing up for a comeback. To create a healthy experience for your guests and employees, you need to consider every aspect of your facility, including your valet services.
The valet is typically the first aspect of your facility that guests experience. When you take visible, proactive measures to prevent the spread of infection – on top of providing courteous service – guests will feel more confident about their entire stay.
Attracting Guests to the Valet
Many guests will be tempted to forego valet parking, assuming that it would be safer to self-park. Use signage at entrances and in front of your parking facility to show them that you have implemented measures to create a healthy experience. You may want to use images to show some of the practices you’ve put in place, such as steering wheel covers, or briefly describe your new protocols. Since signage is typically used to advertise rates, you or your provider will need to get creative to ensure your signs aren’t overcrowded and your message is clear.
Implementing Sanitary Practices
Of course, signage is just the start. Once guests arrives at the curb, they need to actually see your disinfection and social distancing practices in action. In addition to wearing gloves and masks properly at all times, valet attendants should mention your cleaning protocols in their greeting. For example, you can adjust their script to say, “I’m happy to safely valet your car today.” Some guests may ask questions, and valets should be prepared with a short response for common concerns.
To reduce the spread of germs via common touchpoints, consider using key bags and covers for steering wheels, seats, and gear shifts. You can also keep wipes and disinfectant at the valet booth to spot clean surfaces as needed. In the past, these items may have been kept out of sight, but now they can be an important visual cue that demonstrates your commitment to providing a healthy experience.
Using Contactless Technology to Reduce Touchpoints
Every time a valet attendant and a guest exchange cash, credit cards, or tickets, it is an opportunity for germs to spread. With valet parking software, you can provide a nearly contactless experience. Guests provide the valet with their mobile phone number or license plate number, which the valet enters into the point of sale (POS) system. Guests are then given a number to text when they’re ready to retrieve their vehicle. While the valet is retrieving the car, the guest can pay with their mobile phone, completely eliminating the need for a claim check or credit card. The only thing they exchange is their key.
By digitizing the valet experience, you’ll also gain a wealth of data about your operations. That data can be used to improve staff planning and mitigate some of the general overhead costs, including purchasing of additional cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Training Valets for Health and Safety
Valet service is all about courtesy and efficiency, and it can be easy for attendants to become relaxed on COVID-19 safety measures. Regular, consistent training is the key to keeping sanitization measures top of mind for them. Include your infection mitigation measures as part of your training protocols at shift start, mid-shift and shift end. Think of it as another part of your safety training program, just like safe driving habits.
One particular area of focus should be on social distancing. It’s natural for attendants to want to lean into a guest’s window to speak to them but contact that close can be unsafe and uncomfortable. Valet attendants need to be aware of the distance between themselves, guests, other attendants, and hotel staff. Other training protocols may include:
• Awareness of touchpoints, such as door handles and key boxes
• Proper usage and disposal of PPE
• Avoiding touching eyes, noses, and mouths
• When and how to report suspected incidents of COVID-19 exposure
On an ongoing basis, use training audits to measure your attendants’ proficiency with these new safety measures.
How to Bring it All Together
Making guests feel comfortable about your valet experience requires a multi-pronged approach. Small missteps, like improper mask wearing, can easily shake guests’ confidence in your overall facility health. To ensure that you always put your best foot forward, consider working with a parking service partner who has experience implementing infection mitigation measures and training attendants to operate a
safe, courteous valet service.
Sean Milstead is a business development manager in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area for ABM Industries. He can be reached at email@example.com