Proposal

A friend of a friend is interested in having the hotel group that he manages secret shopped. My friend mentioned to him that I would be interested. The next step is submitting a proposal. I have been shopping for a while now, but I have no idea what a reasonable or fair rate would be. I do not want to underbid, but I also do not want to price myself out of the opportunity. Any suggestions on what I should ask for? It will include a full lodging report, including the bar and in-room dining. Thanks in advance.

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Ah, if only we knew the answer to that. That is exactly the situation that any shopper asking for a bonus is in. I have thought of approaching local businesses who don't have access to expensive shopping programs but could benefit from being shopped, and offering to shop them, using as a loose template the metrics used by MSCs for similar types of shops. One of the reasons I haven't done it, other than inertia, is because like you I have no idea what to charge.
This is a great topic. I have no idea the answer. One thing to consider is that you’d be responsible for more than writing the report. You’d also have to build the evaluation, edit, and I thiiink provide additional summaries. Whatever the result, it’s sure to be a great experience just to try.
There must be information online about that. Just keep digging. Use different words and strategies in your search engine. You might happen upon something very useful. I'm confident that you will at the very least find a dollar range.
One way to begin is to price each event. How much would you be paid (by a company that pays rather than only reimburses) for each meal, each bar visit, each night/-s in the hotel, and each interaction with staff including but not limited to the front desk in person or via telephone? You will need to discount for bundling and working in one location, but you can get some numbers.

Hotel check-in (or check-out) interaction is somewhat similar in number of details to what other shop type, even if that is unrelated to a hotel? What is the price range for such a shop?

Calling a department is similar in details to what other phone shop? What is the price range for phone call shops?

Your proposed bar visit is similar to which other bar evaluation? What is the price range for something similar?

How many amenities will the shopper evaluate in total?

How much money will the shopper float? Will shoppers demand that any travel costs be advanced or reimbursed?

How much feedback can be encoded in yes/no or multiple choice questions and answers? How much narrative will be needed? Can you produce a survey that is free of repetitions and topics that were not covered in the guidelines? A user friendly survey should bring down the price because shoppers will be pleased with a streamlined instrument.

etc.

This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. - Leonard Bernstein
Usually when I hotel shop, it is a requirement that everything be charged to the room and the full bill is comped, in addition to a $100 fee depending on the situation. All points are mine to keep.

LET ME BROADCAST THIS! Life is good. I did not say it was "perfect", but it is good. Perfect leaves me something more to strive for while enjoying where I am smiling smiley
Since you have posted this question in two places on the forum, let me add to this response chain.

Remember that your confidentiality agreements with virtually every MSC include a 2 or 3 year non-compete clause as well as confidentiality regarding their proprietary materials. This means that you MUST create your own evaluation tools. The chances are that if the chain to be evaluated has 5 or less locations an MSC is probably not competing for the work and if it is a 'one and done' evaluation rather than monthly for a year or more, they probably are not competing.

A decade ago my shopper fee for a hotel with a couple of dining choices, bars and other amenities ran $100-$150 per night with, of course, everything charged to my room and my room paid with my credit card so that the whole bill could be backed out. The agreement was that if it wasn't backed out of my card, I would be reimbursed with cash and it would be the MSC's problem to recover the money. My expenses were covered door-to-door.

Typically a shop included safety and cleanliness evaluations of every public space plus my room, a dozen or so interactions with staff, a meal or snack at every dining source and a beverage at every bar, visit and/or use of every amenity and service offered. Each interaction or amenity had its own questionnaire that included a checklist as well as substantial narrative supporting every 'no' and at least a third of all 'yes' responses. For cleanliness and safety, photos were required to substantiate findings.

The time and expense of doing a thorough evaluation as opposed to the $25 fee 'quickies' makes it critical that you find out from the client how deeply they want to delve into their services. You don't want to create 50 pages of questionnaire for a one shot visit to their 3 local facilities.
You can't have everything charged to the room and reversed because cash handling by certain staff - bartenders, etc - is something that needs to be shopped. So you will need to include those.

I wanted to cancel a shop yesterday because there was a Trump rally around the corner that was expected to make parking impossible. The MS company threatened to 'bill' me $350 for the income they would lose if I didn't do it so there you go, that's a nice sum. smiling smiley

Shopping domestic and international locations since 2003.
@shopperzsp wrote:

There must be information online about that. Just keep digging. Use different words and strategies in your search engine. You might happen upon something very useful. I'm confident that you will at the very least find a dollar range.

There is. OP can't act like a potential client and obtain cost estimates from any of the many MSC's that have had hotels as past (or current) clientele. Of course, this kind of way in obtaining costs is seen an unethical as you're wasting a company's business development time, as they'll never truly obtain business from you. Of course, you can also consider tag-teaming with an MSC in a partnership, sub-contracting an MSC, etc. for that hotel client as a true independent consultant.

Good luck, as this could definitely be a great business opportunity for you!

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2020 09:09PM by Tarantado.
You can't think of it like a regular shopper would in terms of fees, because you also would have to create some sort of report form (I am guessing Excel would work) for each department evaluated, and that would be time consuming when creating this document. You really need to factor in your time spent creating documents and then everything else.
I know this if off topic, but....I was going to have that exact problem later this month. I live at the place where there is a hotel shop, but it's a company that I have never worked for before and having a hotel shop where it't not a huge chain is just odd. This place has about a dozen in the state and I picked the one week where Trump will be here and it's the off season so hotels are very few and far between. I tried to schedule a night and it was over $500, which is 5 times the normal going rate around here and $350 more than they were willing to reimburse. It's ok, I'll do it the next week...

@pambam wrote:

You can't have everything charged to the room and reversed because cash handling by certain staff - bartenders, etc - is something that needs to be shopped. So you will need to include those.

I wanted to cancel a shop yesterday because there was a Trump rally around the corner that was expected to make parking impossible. The MS company threatened to 'bill' me $350 for the income they would lose if I didn't do it so there you go, that's a nice sum. smiling smiley

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
Also, this sounds like a dream job, but one where it would be ever evolving. I think that when companies start out with a new business, it's extremely excessive and then it boils down to what actually matters. This could be the time where YOU decide what gets evaluated and how. It also means you can come up with reimbursements, which would have to be made by looking at room rates, menus, etc, I think a lot of companies don't do that and just try to get away with the cheapest reimbursements. Most people dining out or going to a hotel are not looking for the rock bottom experience. They want a great experience. Many times, the reimbursements, if you follow them to the penny, you're not really enjoying yourself. You are not having the typical experience. You/they may not get the cheapest mystery shopping program, but they very well may get the best.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
@JASFLALMT wrote:

You can't think of it like a regular shopper would in terms of fees, because you also would have to create some sort of report form (I am guessing Excel would work) for each department evaluated, and that would be time consuming when creating this document. You really need to factor in your time spent creating documents and then everything else.

Plus some analysis on providing solutions to any of their problems found from the shops. Being the consultant as opposed to just the shopper, you're doing more than just providing field results.... Unless they're really just asking for a shop with results, but nothing else.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
I guess if all you had to do was write objective narratives for each department in Word with maybe a small subjective comment at the end of each, it wouldn't be too hard.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I guess if all you had to do was write objective narratives for each department in Word with maybe a small subjective comment at the end of each, it wouldn't be too hard.

Is it really that simple though? If consulting in general in the hotel industry is anything like what I experience in oil and gas, consulting includes recommendations for problems, data analysis, explanations on key findings, etc., which is obvious a lot more work than what's in our scope as shoppers. But at the same time, OP never really gone into detail what the scope was for the hotel company.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
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