File this one under “Unusual But Effective Ways to Enhance the Guest Experience”:
“Every two years, the American valet-parking industry sends its best parkers — optimistically described as athletes — to compete in a head-to-head battle known as the National Valet Olympics. True to their Athenian namesake, the games push participants to the limit. Competitors sort keys. They pack trunks. They slalom through orange cones. They sprint across parking lots. Organized into corporate teams, they also dress in the snazzy uniforms of their trade.”
That recent report from the TheAtlantic.comdraws attention to “a line of work … that few ever pause to consider,” according to the article. Yet valets are an integral part of the hospitality industry, and the better they do their job, the better and more memorable the guest experience.
Founded in 2009, the National Valet Olympicsincludes such competitive events as the Key Box Challenge (“sprint to a locked key box, match a dozen or so keys with their corresponding vehicle tags, hang them correctly on a metal door, then sprint back to the finish line”) and Precision Parking (“sprint to a car, leap inside and roar out of the parking spot. … [T]hen weave through 10 orange cones, park the car, put it in reverse, and do the whole thing all over again, backwards”).
Exceptional valets also provide other often-overlooked services, too, according to the article:
[They] boast automotive skills unappreciated outside the parking lot. And valet parking is a hidden vein of economic opportunity that provides full-time work, first jobs and summer employment to thousands. For immigrants from Nigeria, India or Ecuador, or displaced by war in Iraq, the industry can supply a much-needed foothold in the United States, even launching a lifelong career. What’s more, as cities grow in size and complexity, America’s urban centers are becoming harder to navigate — with byzantine parking laws, dense downtowns that require real-life Tetris skills to park, and massive lots located blocks from the venues they serve. All of this makes valets, as they invisibly rearrange streets, the set designers of every busy cityscape. Giving them an arena to demonstrate their talents is, in this sense, a no-brainer.
Who won the 2017 National Valet Olympics, which were held in October at California’s Palm Springs Convention Center? A team of men and women from Towne Park, a leading hospitality services company that boasts employees at more than 800 locations nationwide.
But why should valets have all the fun? The International Executive Housekeepers Association offers tips for how operators of facilities — from hotels to sports venues — can create their own Housekeeping Olympics. Recommended events include the Trash Can Relay, Dust Mop Ski and our favorite, a Bed Making Event. For details about these events and more, plus how to stage your own Housekeeping Olympics, click here.
Remember: Anything that strives to improve the guest experience is ultimately a good thing.