Last month, I was heading to the West Loop to meet some friends for a 6p reservation at Girl & The Goat. If you’ve ever been to that stretch of Randolph after work you know your standard parking options consist of either valeting at a restaurant or trying to find an open public spot (usually a few blocks away).
Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about startups trying to make the valet process more convenient (Valet Anywhere, ZIRX, Vatler, Luxe, Parqer, Parche), but hadn’t yet given any of them a try. Armed with a promotional credit for Luxe, I figured this would be as good an opportunity as any to give it a go.
The system is straightforward enough; using their Uber-like mobile app, you set your destination before you leave and the app uses your phone’s GPS to keep track of your progress. When you approach your destination’s “zone” that Luxe services, one of their valets gets assigned to you, and you can then see their location on the map. If everything goes right, the valet will be waiting at your destination when you arrive, ready to take your car to the nearest designated lot (I’m guessing Luxe has partnered with specific garages in their launch cities).
The night we went to dinner, my valet arrived at the same time I did, and was easy to pick out from the crowd because of his bright blue Luxe jacket. He was extremely friendly and asked what our estimated departure time was (I’m guessing this gets plugged into their system because I got a text message later in the evening reminding me to request my car if I wanted it by that time).
After dinner, our group moved to another restaurant to sit on the patio and catch up, which is when I realized one of the nice advantages to using Luxe: you don’t have to stay at the place you valeted since you can set a different drop off location in the app.
When it came time to request my car again, the app showed me the estimated return time if I requested immediately, or gave me the option to request my car at a set time in the future. A different valet returned my car, but she was equally as pleasant as the first.
The overall experience was great, the app easy to use, the valets friendly and punctual, and the service was a bit cheaper than a typical valet in that area. It was also nice to not have to worry about needing cash at the end of the night.
Last week I tried the service again when I had to be downtown for a breakfast meeting, and the experience was as good as the first (the return valet was a little delayed getting out of the parking garage, but I received a call both from their support team in San Francisco, and from the valet himself letting me know).
While I didn’t test any of Luxe’s additional services, they do offer refueling, washing, overnight parking, and “Drive Home” (which is exactly what it sounds like).
It seems like these “make your life easier” on-demand services are popping up in nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives (food and alcohol, dry cleaning, dog walking, same-day retail delivery, etc.) and time will tell how much is too much. If a service like Luxe can keep delivering convenience, quality service, and competitive pricing though, there might be room in my life for on-demand valet service from time to time.