Are hotel shops worth it?

I've been wanting to try one of the high end hotel shops for a while, but I've only heard horror stories of the reports. Plus I've been paranoid about getting something wrong and not being reimbursed the $2k or whatever..... Are they really that bad??? I can handle the company's detailed dinner shops and I always get high ratings. Annoying and repetitive, but I can handle them.
I would appreciate any feedback of these shops, how long do they typically take you, any advice etc, is it worth the stress, what was your experience like...., thank you!

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I would not do one for Coyle. Actually, I won't waste hours of my life on anything for Coyle in the future. The other MSCs are better.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/2021 12:10PM by Niner.
I guess I do "low end" hotel shops with another company. You get breakfast and dinner which is a savings too. If you wanted to see something in the area or were just ready to get awsy its worth it to me. Join their rewards program and once you stay enough, you'll have a free night.
applesnbananas: I have done many high-end hotel and casino resort shops. In fact, I consistently did 3 per month, every month, in 2017. I suggest that you do not try high-end hotel resort shops until you have enough experience that you have the complete confidence to do one without worrying about doing something wrong, having the shop rejected, and losing hundreds or thousands of dollars. You could probably benefit most by going as another shopper's guest before trying such a shop yourself.

The shops are not that bad if you are super-organized, detail-oriented, efficient both with time and shopper tools, and very experienced. Think of a couple apartment shops, several fine dining shops, a dine-in fast food shop, retail shops, counter service shop, possibly a casino shop, and throw them all into one shop. Add a few other employee interactions and services, and you have an idea of what it's like. Some shoppers like these shops, and some do not. Others, like me, do them and wonder why. But of course, the perks are fabulous.

I prefer doing the shops that include more than a one-night stay; The logistics are easier in those. I arrive at the hotel early before check-in time to do interactions that can be done then. I go up to my room after a few interactions and enter the grunt work (names, descriptions, times, upload files to my laptop, etc.) in the shop forms while my devices batteries are charging. Sometimes I even have time to type some of the narratives while in my hotel room.

I use the entire 2 day after checkout deadline to type the narratives. If it is a 2-night 3-day stay, the deadline is 72 hours after checkout. There are about 35 interactions per day in a high-end hotel shop. Some, such as a security guard interaction, take less than a minute. Others, such as hotel restaurant, can take an hour or more.

PM me before your first hotel resort shop if you have a specific question and need more detail than I have provided in this lengthy post.
They can be if you are detail oriented enough and organized enough. I like getting nights accumulated for rewards tiers and free stays in the future. I also have several branded hotel credit cards that I used to pay for the rooms and therefore get extra bonus points back.
Coylee addendum: I have done Coyle shops, and there are very few that I would do in the future. The main issue with Coyle is that they are so unnecessarily vague so that you don't know exactly how to write the narratives until after you've done a few shops for them. You have to spend lots of time searching through all the links on their website in order to discover what they want and how to write the narratives. This results in way too much time and effort in preparation for a shop, especially since their narrative requirements and form structures are different from any other company. You will spend much more time on a Coyle shop than any other comparable shop, but your pay will not reflect this.
That is very good advice, thank you. I was thinking the 2-night stays would be easier than the 1-night stays I saw, since there would be more time to do the interactions. So I was leaning away from the 1-night ones. But I guess I should try one of those first. Which interactions are you able to do before check-in?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/2021 12:51PM by applesnbananas.
I do just about any and all except Coyle. I join the rewards program and have the affiliated credit card for three of the big chains. Even doing the ones with no fees, I earn enough bonus points per year to have 10-20 free hotel nights "in the bank". I use these both for pleasure trips and to support a few profitable routes. Over the years I have had many wonderful room service meals (and a few duds, of course), brought home tons of food from required visits to VIP lounges, gotten reimbursed for buying socks, tee-shirts, snacks and other swag to bring home. If there is no dinner included I take an in-room picnic and some wine.

One caveat: before accepting any hotel shop I check out the ratings on Trip Advisor.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Depending on the hotel chain and the guidelines One night interactions aren't horrible. I almost prefer one night stays,less work!
Depends on the brand/property/MSC.

Here's SOME of what you should expect in a package of surveys from Coyle:

Reservations Call - Time and Date of call, formatted to their specifications. How many rings? Correct scripted greeting? Opening quote? Type of rooms available and their features? Did they ask for the sale? Closing quote? Narrative. (This alone took 10 paragraphs.)

Valet - Time and Date? Greeting? Assistance with vehicle? Assistance exiting from vehicle? Opening quote? Closing quote? Narrative.

Bell Arrival/Acclimation/Departure - Time and Date? Greeting? Assistance with luggage? Opening quote? Closing quote? 3 separate narratives.

Front Desk Arrival - Time and Date? Greeting? Opening quote? Room and rate? Closing quote? Narrative.

Housekeeping - Initial Impression/Stay Over/Turn Down/Request - Capture images of where luggage placed. Images of room from different angles. Images of defects. Four separate narratives. Numerous images - initial/before/after. Scheduled for a two-night assignment? It's possible that you test stay over and turn down service twice.

Housekeeping Turn Down Service - Set up room with "tests". Capture images of "before" and "after" turndown. Narrative.

Housekeeping Request - Call and request for an item from Housekeeping. How many rings? Name of associate. Proper scripted greeting? Opening quote. Closing quote. Time of request. Time of receipt. Delivery associate? Name badge? Eyes, Teeth and Tone? Opening quote. Closing quote. Offer additional assistance? Image(s) of item(s) delivered. Narrative.

Service Recovery - Time and Date? Greeting? Opening quote? Sense of urgency? Issue resolved? Closing quote? Narrative.

Room Service - Time and Date of call, formatted to their specifications. How many rings? Correct scripted greeting? Knowledge of menu? Did they upsell? Did they ask for the sale? Expected delivery time? Closing quote? Arrival time? Temperature of food? Expectations met? Table set up correctly? Order correct and complete? Opening quote? Closing quote? Tray pick up request. Tray pick up time. Images of covered plates. Images of uncovered plates. Narrative.

Facility - Similar to room, but instead for the property.

Maintenance - Similar to Service Recovery.

Pool - Specific to the pool.

Fitness Center - Specific to the Fitness Center.

Bar - Well if you're up to a hotel shop, then you know what to expect.

Lounge - See above.

Dinner - See above, in addition to separate narratives for reservations process/call, management, food/facility.

Breakfast - See above.

Spa - reservations, facility, treatment, service recovery, cashier - times required. Five separate narratives. Six, if you test retail.

Front Desk Observation - Observe for 30 minutes. You know the drill.

Bell Observation - See above.

Wake Up Call Request - Time and Date? How many rings? Greeting? Opening quote? Closing quote? Narrative.

Wake Up Call Receipt - Time and Date? How many rings? Greeting? Opening quote? Did they provide the day's weather forecast? Did they offer coffee/tea/to connect you to In-Room Dining? Closing quote? Narrative.

PBX - Time and Date? How many rings? Greeting? Opening quote? Closing quote? Narrative.

Is it a multiple-day assignment? Expect to repeat a few interactions - PBX wake up call and receipt, Front Desk observation and then add Housekeeping stayover service.

Bell Departure Interaction - See above.

Front Desk Departure Interaction - Yep, by now you know what they're looking for. Narrative.

Valet Departure Interaction - See above.

Subjective/Overall Impression - Let loose with your subjective opinions. "Tell the client what they might not know."

One of my recent hotel evaluations had 37 pages of single-spaced, 10 pt. font text - just for the narratives. Expect to capture approximately 30-40 images that need to be uploaded, and formatted and labeled to their specifications.

You may also find this thread helpful: www.mysteryshopforum.com/read/6/447295/447633#msg-447633
I am neither an overnight route shopper nor is a hotel/motel a place for me other than to sleep. Were I not knowledgeable in the area, Pro G's detailed sharing would have been sufficient for me to have avoided this type of assignment.
ProG's list is a LOT more than most hotel shops require.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

ProG's list is a LOT more than most hotel shops require.

Agreed these are for the higher-end properties and typically for Coyle.
A popular company that does a lot of retirement homes has a chain of hotels all over the USA. They are easy. If you have never done a hotel before, do one of these shops to get an idea.
ProG's list is accurate to the original question - which is "high end" hotel shops with reimbursement of $2K or more. Coyle, Guest Check TrueGuest, and others that operate in this space do expect this amount of detail. A 40 page, single space, 10 point font report for two nights is typical, not out of bounds.

There are other types of hotel shops done by ACL for example that are much easier and straight forward, but they are not high-end and they are not a reimbursement of $2K.

As to rather or not they are worth it - it depends on how much you value your time and your reasons for taking the shop. I used to do them all the time more as gifts for my mom, friends, etc. I was able to give them a great experience for work that while was still hard, I had down to a science (I was typically able to get it all done on site with just a few hours of work when I got home).

The pandemic though ... I have done a few (less than 10) very high end shops in the past year (think $2K a NIGHT places) and it just isn't worth it to me the way it used to be... service levels are down (some of this is due to COVID and "no touch" and some is due to being understaffed due to people being out sick or high risk) and the reports are even more extensive and more work then ever. I decided in November I was done and was just going to buy experiences going forward.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2021 06:58PM by MickeyB.
Mickey,
Same. I am done with the ridiculous Coyle shops. For the restaurants, the fee is $0, not even the $15 or $20 they would pay, yet there is more work required.
@applesnbananas wrote:

That is very good advice, thank you. I was thinking the 2-night stays would be easier than the 1-night stays I saw, since there would be more time to do the interactions. So I was leaning away from the 1-night ones. But I guess I should try one of those first. Which interactions are you able to do before check-in?

Yes 2-night stays are easier, but remember that you also have twice as many interactions. I think you should definitely accomplish a 1-night stay first though (you can always stay past checkout to finish interactions if necessary). If you can find a casino shift visit, that is an even better primer, since you will probably have less than a dozen interactions and will get them all done in 3 - 6 hours. For your first one, I would stay away from any overnighter that gives you less than 48 hours after check out to write your report.

Keep in mind that we are talking about high-end hotels and resorts. Most of those I have done also have casinos, although I did shop Trump condos a few times before the 2016 election. You can do any interaction before check in that does not require you to check in first or one that does not have specific time period requirement. That might include a Security person, restroom, restaurant, concierge, box office, bartender, bell person (ask to store luggage until your after your check in, parkiing valet, and public areas observations. If there is also a casino, possible interactions prior to check in may include, player card desk, cocktail server, table game, slot machine, pit personnel, bingo room attendant, and poker room manager.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2021 09:15PM by AZwolfman.
The covid era has changed me, too. Unlike your experiences, I only completed a few hotel shops-- just to find out if I could. I could. I never had time to travel far enough to encounter shops with casinos, spas, or multi-day stays. If ever travel becomes good (and imho being vaccinated and having a vax card is not sufficient to make travel good) I will read more on the forum before proceeding with anything that involves MS and travel. You and the other experienced hospitality shoppers are the bomb!

@MickeyB wrote:

.... The pandemic though ... I have done a few (less than 10) very high end shops in the past year (think $2K a NIGHT places) and it just isn't worth it to me the way it used to be... service levels are down (some of this is due to COVID and "no touch" and some is due to being understaffed due to people being out sick or high risk) and the reports are even more extensive and more work then ever. I decided in November I was done and was just going to buy experiences going forward.

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____
@walesmaven wrote:

ProG's list is a LOT more than most hotel shops require.

Actually, I would say ProG's interactions list is typical of the high-end hotels I have shopped. I have no idea how many pages of narratives, but my complete report generally consists of 10,000 to 15,000 words. Watching the word count helps keep my reports concise, which gives the editors less to fault. I used almost 14,000 words for the 2-night stay report for my last hotel/casino resort shop at the best and classiest hotel on the LV Strip IMO. Choosing and uploading photos, receipts, and assembling an expense report can take a few hours though.
But most hotel shops are not for those very high end properties. Excellent hotels without resort amenities produce tons of hotel rewards points with far fewer interactions and less demanding narratives.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

But most hotel shops are not for those very high end properties. Excellent hotels without resort amenities produce tons of hotel rewards points with far fewer interactions and less demanding narratives.

Agreed! I like doing these because they're reasonably quick, I get a free night, I get bonus hotel points and stays towards status and I can use my hotel branded credit card for extra points and the work isn't terrible.
@MickeyB wrote:

ProG's list is accurate to the original question - which is "high end" hotel shops with reimbursement of $2K or more. Coyle, Guest Check TrueGuest, and others that operate in this space do expect this amount of detail. A 40 page, single space, 10 point font report for two nights is typical, not out of bounds.
.

Thanks, Mickey.

Also, should any of your interactions go sideways, or if there any issues with the property itself, expect to do a LOT more writing and documenting.
I do not aspire to high end personal or MS stays. However, I love that I have worked in resorts in front and back of house long before I found MS, have completed one-night stays, and would not be too terrified to attempt a longer stay. OTOH, I am just a fuddy duddy who would rather sit on the porch in good weather and read a fave book that was paid for long ago. This seems easier on my budget and I risk nothing! But for newbies, please read, read, read, and re-read the posts from the experienced hotel and resort shoppers who well know what is involved for your finances, your time, and [possibly for some of you] your stress level.

In fact, would the admins consider compiling a few posts from the experienced hospitality shoppers into a sticky note on the new members board and also for the rest of use in this board? I think it would provide help many people who might experience MS and life in general so differently post-pandemic that we might appreciate a lesson or two.

Things are not to be judged good or bad merely because the public think so. - Tacitus
_____
I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
_____


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2021 02:02PM by Shop-et-al.
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