Tipping is universally known for appreciating or showing gratitude for the other person's service. It encourages them to keep offering quality services and sometimes gives preferential treatment for a good tip.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to tipping because there are different standards for different workers, different days, and situations in which some days you will probably tip more if there is bad weather, more luggage, or above and beyond kind of service.
There is however that one percent that you can never go wrong with, that saves you out of a situation when you are not sure of how much to tip, for example, the tipping standard amount in the US is $2 to $5.
Most of the time, amidst all this confusion on how much to tip who, it depends on the service provider, and in this article, we look at one specific service provider; valet.
When to Tip Your Valet
When to tip your valet depends on the rules of the hotel or restaurant. They might have a system where you are served by two different valets; one who will take your car and the other who is supposed to return it.
In such a case, you are supposed to tip twice because you will not be served by the same person the second time else you tip the drop-off valet for his service and the service of the pick-up valet.
If you are sure to be served by the same person twice and you want to tip once, it should probably be at the end of the service. In such a case where you get the same valet on both occasions, when to tip the valet is purely dependent on personal preference.
If you are generous enough or the service was excellent, you can tip the valet on both occasions. He will make sure to give you preferential treatment and pack your car where you want it making pick-up more important than the drop-off. This is not to say the tip during drop-off should be less.
When staying at a hotel for more than a day and are going to need valet services more often, then it is best to tip less frequently to save on costs.
You might be served by different valets each day and you have to make sure you have tipped them which should be once unless you have more than enough money to spend.
Especially at a high-end hotel where the valets even open the door for you deserving a larger tip. Most of these valets open the door for your lady if there is one.
You could always get out by yourself but some can be quick enough to let you out.
How Much Extra for Special Circumstances
These special circumstances greatly dictate how much you tip the valet.
Sometimes you might want your car parked in a very specific place. Other times you might need to ask the valet to get something from the car after parking which will add to the tip you give the valet.
Another special circumstance is the weather. You might want to factor in the weather when tipping your valet seeing that he will put in more effort to move around for parking if it is, for example, raining. He will struggle more if the parking lot is full and everyone is struggling to get a space and he is saving you from that.
You most definitely need to add extra for the extra effort or help. It makes the valet want to give you that top priority and carry out the given task perfectly.
When the Service is Complimentary
These instances happen when the event or hotel offers free valet services or when you win a coupon for special promotions, earning you a free service.
Whether it is free or not, valets will still carry your luggage or park your car and help you out in a few tasks like the special circumstances mentioned above.
So tipping etiquette applies to both situations. Their pay is in small hourly rates and completely separate from the amount they get from the tips.
Tipping in Cash or Credit
Most people going to restaurants or hotels plan to use credit or debit as a form of payment. They rarely carry cash around with them.
In this situation, they add the tips to the charges they get from the hotel or tip the valets in credit.
However, when you know you are going to be served by a valet, it is best to keep small notes ready for the tipping.
Cash is more convenient considering they are frequently moving around to help each driver that arrives and ensures that the valet gets the tip directly from you to make it easier for them.
How Much to Tip the Valet
The standard tipping amount presently stands at $2 to $5. This range is common among most people and countries when it comes to tipping valets. If you are tipping twice to the same person, during drop-off and pick-up, dropping to $2 to $3 is only reasonable the second time. When there is extra service provided by the valet, it is thoughtful to add a little extra as gratitude.
Other than that, adapt to the circumstances such that in a low-cost country or hotel, the standard is thoughtful, and in a high-cost country or hotel, more than the standard amount is recommended. Someone driving a Ferrari or some other high-end vehicle would probably tip more.
You can add $1 to $2 if your valet helps you load and unload bags. Most of the time this rate is usually per bag.
For limos, vans, and paid shuttles, 15% of the total fare is given as a tip and up to 20% of the fare if the valet goes above and beyond to help with other tasks.
During drop-off, pay attention to the valets as they are always waiting while giving directions and instructions and also directing traffic.
It helps you know that you are going the right way and adds to the convenience.
Also, make sure you tidy your vehicle. Clear up the front seats, especially the driver's seat, to make it easier for the valets during drop-off and pick-up.
You do not necessarily need to completely wash the car and all that but tidying up the inside and removing the clutter will help you not feel embarrassed when handing over the car.
In addition to clearing away the clutter, put away your valuables in the process to avoid any misunderstandings.
The valets are trustworthy but you just never know, especially in a situation where you are leaving a temptation lying around.
While doing all this, make sure the cash you are planning to tip with is easily accessible so you do not have to struggle to look for it while the valet waits and ends up looking ungrateful when you do not find the cash.
Double-check to confirm that you have taken out everything you might need for the night. This will ease your work because if you forget something, you will have to keep sending the valet to get it for you which means more tipping for the extra task.
Once all that is done, wait for a valet to show up. Do not leave your car unattended presuming a valet will come through later on.
When the valet shows up, leave the keys in the ignition to ease their work then give them any information they might need to know about your cars like your windows having a problem rolling down, a faulty door, or the activation and deactivation of the touch alarm system.
After this, they will give you your claim ticket you have to guard carefully. Without it, you cannot claim your car, leading to a lot of hassle to prove that it is yours.
Again, you might need to tip your valet after this for all that trouble when you take him through that whole process of proving that the car is yours.
During pick-up, inform the valet beforehand to save time. The valet might be away so call ahead and if they are serving other customers who came before you on a busy day, wait till they are done.
Inspect your vehicle if possible and check for any damages or anything stolen even though valets are deemed trustworthy.
If any damage happens to your vehicle and you do not raise it at the time, it will be hard to get reimbursed or have them take your word for it, if you report it days later. It is even harder to prove the damage was caused by the valet at such a time.
Valets make more money from the tips than they do from their hourly income sometimes so make sure you do not forget to do so.
Conclusion: How Much to Tip Valet
Tipping is mandatory in some parts of the USA and customary or just a good practice in other parts of the country. In such cases where it is mandatory to tip them, valets' income usually depends heavily on the tips.
Shockingly enough, it is seen as an offense in other countries like Japan. Be conversant with the tipping rules before you start tipping.