Sleeping on the Job - Could You Be a Hotel Mystery Shopper?

Fancy a job sleeping in fancy hotels? How about sleeping and eating and getting paid for it? The job does exist - and it's called hotel mystery shopping.

Establishments worldwide know that, when it comes to fiscal fitness, knowing their customers means pleasing their customers, and a satisfied customer is a return customer. The idiom 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' is wise counsel for the accommodation industry. The initial sale of a product or service is the hardest sell. It is always wiser and more cost effective that a business ensures that it keeps its clientele, rather than recruit new custom.

An establishment that really knows their client demographic can aim to please, and to this end the wise enlist the use of trained hotel mystery shopping professionals.

What do they do?

As a mystery evaluator, your job is to gather and report on your experience as a guest in an establishment. You may be required to focus on the cleanliness, front office or room service, up-selling strategies, restaurant and any of numerous aspects involved in the overall experience. By now the likely question on your lips is; "What qualities do I need to do this job?"

What qualities do you need?

As a mystery shopper or 'evaluator' you may work as part of a team if employed by a company that specialises in outsourcing the job. Or, you may be a private contractor, which means that essentially you are working in business for yourself. As you are employer and employee of your own concern you will need to have and cultivate the same responsibilities that the CEO of any company displays, and expect the same high standards of yourself that the director of any successful company would have of their employee.


If you take on an assignment it is imperative that the job is executed within the allotted timeframe, and that it is seen through to completion. Remember your service is only one part in the larger scheme of a marketing campaign and that your client may have commitments with other businesses reliant on the timely results of your report.

Following instructions

Each assignment will have been commissioned to seek information about a particular aspect of the client's company. In other words, a company that employs your services will have a definite agenda, based upon the identified areas of need or results of extensive company research. It is therefore vital that the result of their investment in a hotel mystery shopping report is delivered within their specific given brief.

If you fail to follow the client brief to the letter you can expect your report to be rejected. Ensure that you are fully cognisant as to what you are expected to do, and if unsure on any point, don't waste their time and yours. Communication with your clients is vital; ask to clarify before you commit to the assignment.


As a professional it is important to look the part at all times, and looking the part will help you act accordingly. Essentially you are working 'under cover', hence you want to blend into the crowd. To be an effective 'secret shopper' you need to stay incognito, especially if you hope for more than a few assignments in the same town.


The report that you will present to your client as the summation of your research needs to read and look professional. Some clients will give very clear specifications as to how they want their report presented. However, as a rule, ensure that you avoid fancy fonts and that you use a simple font like Arial or Times Roman at size 12. Use headings and spacing at 1.5 for easy readability.

It is imperative that you proofread your work carefully and try to allow a day between the writing and the sending off of your report. By reading your report aloud and with fresh eyes you are more likely to pick up mistakes that you may have overlooked on first editing.

At all costs during correspondence with the client and in the report, avoid emoticons, abbreviations, acronyms and slang. Make sure that all correspondence is professional; misspellings and bad grammar attract the wrong kind of attention. This attention needs to extend to your email address as well '' is guaranteed to undermine the professional tone of the business image that you are endeavouring to create.


Discretion is the key to professionally executing your job, and to remaining in the industry. Be mindful that your part is to remain anonymous, objective and to judge ruthlessly. For a hotel mystery shopping professional, like any good spy, gossip should be strictly avoided in your after-hours repertoire.

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