7 Steps to Implement a Mystery Shopping Program for Hotels

If you’re new to the world of market research, the concept of mystery shopping may not be the clearest. 

Are we going shopping for crime novels? Is it an activity for family game night?

While both are good guesses, mystery shopping is a type of market research where a shopper reports on all aspects of their shopping experience.

The customer service representatives where the individual shops do not know the shopper is there for research purposes, hence the mystery aspect!

But wait...what can you possibly buy from a hotel?

In this article we’ll explain how and why implementing a mystery shopping program can be achieved in the world of hotels and hospitality. 

You’ll see how, just as in life, there’s room for mystery in all areas of research! 

conducting hotel mystery shops

What is Mystery Shopping?

Let's start off with a basic definition of mystery shopping.

The Definition of Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping is a popular market research method where a trained individual will secretly shop at a given location and then rate their experience on a variety of metrics.

The shopper can go to the location in person, do research online, or even call the establishment on the phone.

Regardless of where or how the shopper does their research, the main idea is that the establishment does not know the shopper is rating their experience.

Benefits of Hotels Conducting Mystery Shops

The hospitality industry is one that is always evolving to meet consumer demands. As a result, hotels, resorts, and casinos can benefit from implementing a mystery shopping program. Our mystery shopping company shares our 7-step process in this post.

With long-lasting effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's now more important than ever before to identify pain points in the customer experience and improve your business.

For example, our hotel and hospitality market research company found that while 49% of Americans are comfortable staying at a hotel, travelers feel safer with vaccination requirements (71%), mandatory face masks (64%), and social distancing guidelines (58%) in place.

Read New Survey Shows Changing Traveler Behaviors & Attitudes with Vaccine Rollout for more survey findings.

Conducting mystery shopping in your own hotel sheds light on the areas where improvements could be made.

Utilizing an unbiased third-party mystery shopping company like Drive Research ensures that you get the insight that may be overlooked by someone within your own company.

Interested in learning more benefits of mystery shops? Watch this 60-second video.

The Process of Implementing a Hotel Mystery Shopping Program

Mystery shopping can be utilized in a variety of areas in the world of hospitality.

Typically, a market research company would recruit ‘guests’ who would book a room, stay at the hotel, and then give feedback on different aspects of their stay. 

The six-step process our mystery shopping firm follows is outlined below.

1. Mystery guests are recruited and trained by a market research company.

The future guests are informed on the process and how to report feedback. Mystery shoppers can be trained professionals or members of your target market.

2. The recruited guests will then book a room at the hotel.

After completing the reservation process, the guest will provide insight on how the process went and what could be improved.

3. Then it's time for the guest to check-in and begins their stay.

With the check in process being the first impression the guest has of the hotel, this is a key area that the mystery guest will focus on.

They’ll provide feedback on what went well and what could be improved upon.

4. After checking in, the guest will then perform a variety of tasks throughout the duration of their stay.

The goal here is to see how well staff can handle customer problems and complaints and to see if there are any services or amenities that need to be addressed.

The guest can call the front desk and ask for more towels, order room service, or make a complaint about the cleanliness of the fitness center, for example.

5. As the guest’s stay comes to an end, the last step focuses on the check-out experience.

As the typical final interaction between the guest and the hotel staff, it's important for the guest to check out and leave the hotel happy and satisfied.

6. After completing their stay, the mystery guest will then submit an evaluation form on the different aspects of their stay at the hotel.

Building off what they had already provided throughout their stay, this information will be used to continue learning about how things at the hotel can be improved for future guests.

7. The hotel receives a detailed market research report. 

As a final deliverable, your market research partner will create a comprehensive report that outlines key takeaways from the study. 

It includes an executive summary, question-by-question analysis, quotes from participants, recommendations for how hotels can use the data to improve customer experience. 

Conduct a Mystery Shopping Program with Drive Research

Drive Research is a national market research company located in Upstate NY. Our team is well-versed in mystery shopping and experienced with managing these projects from start to finish. We can conduct mystery shops for hotels, resorts, and casinos anywhere in the country. 

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Devan Grant

Devan's love for learning serves him well as a market research professional. With two years of both quantitative and qualitative research in the healthcare space under his belt, he knows what it takes to answer some of the toughest market research questions.

Learn more about Devan, here.

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