hotel shops

@Hoju wrote:

I imagine there's a tolerance for error built in to most reports, particularly the really long and intricate ones.

Not really.

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Do you know for sure? I've made mistakes in my evals that have somehow been pushed through. When I completed the checklist eval for Coyle, I was asked a couple questions I couldn't answer. They weren't originally listed in the requirements, but they were questions which I wasn't prepared for.

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@Hoju wrote:

Do you know for sure? I've made mistakes in my evals that have somehow been pushed through. When I completed the checklist eval for Coyle, I was asked a couple questions I couldn't answer. They weren't originally listed in the requirements, but they were questions which I wasn't prepared for.

I was referring to their "regular" surveys. If it's not in the Client Objectives or the actual survey for the brand audit/checklist assignment, then, yeah, it is not for you to seek tolerance. You completed the assignment as it was assigned to you.

I don't think there's a whole lot of flexibility on specific tests or questions on a regular hotel survey.

I'll be the first to admit to completing a bar visit at the wrong outlet when staying at a property with multiple outlets and testing most of them, sometimes multiple times for different service periods. Were they flexible? Yes, because I actually did visit a bar at the property. Miss the bar entirely? Probably not. Miss a crucial question or test? No doubt they'll call you on it.

That being said, I doubt that they want to reject any report. They will work with you to address the issue, if possible. When I visited the incorrect outlet they stated they would check with the client to see if they would accept the survey(s). They did. I was sweating that one.

** Edited to correct a grammatical error.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2018 02:34AM by Professional Guest.
Yeah it’s that sort of thing that I’m taking about. There’s kind of a margin of error built in where they can still accept a report in the event that something doesn’t go as planned or a simple mistake was made.
I know Data Quest is very forgiving. I’ve unintentionally changed a “strictly breakfast” outlet visit to dinner and they said that as long as I evaluate the outlet it’s all good.

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There are varying degrees of screw-ups, basically. Going to the outlet at an unspecified time or ordering a drink that you are requested not to order is one thing. The client pays for a review of all the outlets and they are still getting that, even when those rules are broken.

Forgetting entirely to order room service. That's another level of trouble. You can send another shopper to the bar or call the hotel for questions after the stay, but you gotta be in the rom to order room service, so you might get a rejection for that type of blunder.

As far as the times for tests and questions shoppers are required to ask, the MSC has a valid reason for those to be standardized across all properties. If you own a group of hotels and looking at scoring for all them as a comparison, you want the tests put forth to be equal as possible. If only one property is getting great scores for room service, but the shopper ordered a meal at noon when the request was to order at midnight, you realize how that can skew results, and it makes the MSC look bad.
@SteveSoCal wrote:

There are varying degrees of screw-ups, basically. Going to the outlet at an unspecified time or ordering a drink that you are requested not to order is one thing.

My guest once ordered a Martini and I didn’t catch it when they were ordering. Dinged on my Mystery Shop Results. I have NEVER ordered Eggs Benedict, lobster or filet mignon. (I’m chuckling.)
I ordered filet mignon once. smiling smiley There were no "mid priced entree" guidelines. Only a budget. And when they write the budget they account for two people. I was alone, therefore it was filet night for Hoju!
Never heard a word about it and got a perfect score.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
@SteveSoCal wrote:

There are varying degrees of screw-ups, basically.
. . .

Forgetting entirely to order room service. That's another level of trouble.

I am NEVER going to forget to order Room Service. It's one of the things I really look forward to when on an assignment.
@Professional Guest wrote:

@SteveSoCal wrote:

There are varying degrees of screw-ups, basically.
. . .

Forgetting entirely to order room service. That's another level of trouble.

I am NEVER going to forget to order Room Service. It's one of the things I really look forward to when on an assignment.

I’d say that I agree, but I once forgot to use the bellman on the way out. I had a super early flight, and it took me an hour to check-in. I had a huge mental block and carried my own luggage down. The shop was not for Coyle. It was a two day hotel, travel paid and a really crappy $250 fee. Took me forever to write it up. Never again, not even for $500.

I love good room service. I get it when I’m not working too.
The only people I’ve worked for where I would consider $250 a really crappy fee is TrueGuest.

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@Professional Guest wrote:

My guest once ordered a Martini and I didn’t catch it when they were ordering. Dinged on my Mystery Shop Results. I have NEVER ordered Eggs Benedict, lobster or filet mignon. (I’m chuckling.)

I shopped a restaurant with "Lobster" in the name and I was still afraid to order lobster! They didn't even change the guidelines.

The "no martini" rule is confusing to me. Does this mean no plain *classic* vodka/gin martini? Is a flavored martini allowed, such as an apple or chocolate martini? A cosmopolitan? I just tell my guest to stick to beer/wine to make it easy.

Getting back to the margin of errors built in - I did one of the audit style shops and I was supposed to take photos of the tags on the linens but there was a front and back of each label, and some items have 2-3 labels. There were two photos that I missed. Thankfully they didn't reject the report for that.
@hotsauce1 wrote:

I did one of the audit style shops and I was supposed to take photos of the tags on the linens but there was a front and back of each label, and some items have 2-3 labels.

I take front and back of ALL labels. Even the hotel branded labels vary and some have dates on different sides.

re; martinis...it's a confusing rule, but the genesis of it is that the owner of the MSC feels like anyone who orders a martini or shot is trying to get drunk, and that makes the MSC look bad when the evaluator is supposed to be aware of everything going on.

You can order strong drinks and/or martinis as long as they don't have the word "Martini" in them, however. The editors are pretty clueless, so if a specialty martini is called a "Mad Hatter", even if it's double size a regular martini, they won't say anything about it.

..and yes, even steakhouses still have the "No filet mignon" rule in the guidelines, even when it's often the least expensive item on the menu there, and there are standards for asking how you want the steak prepared. I just write, "This is a steakhouse assignment" in the comments area on the top of the form and order the filet.
@SteveSoCal wrote:

re; martinis...it's a confusing rule, but the genesis of it is that the owner of the MSC feels like anyone who orders a martini or shot is trying to get drunk, and that makes the MSC look bad when the evaluator is supposed to be aware of everything going on.

You can order strong drinks and/or martinis as long as they don't have the word "Martini" in them, however. The editors are pretty clueless, so if a specialty martini is called a "Mad Hatter", even if it's double size a regular martini, they won't say anything about it.
"

Yeah. I think it was called "SOMETHING SOMETHING martini". Missed the "martini" part. No stronger than a Vodka Cranberry. I didn't even argue the point.

**Edited to add another salient paragraph to SteveSoCal's quote.

**Edited once more to revise "that" to "than".

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2018 06:12AM by Professional Guest.
You actually can order filet mignon at steakhouse shops only if it is mid-priced. No lobster or market priced items are ever permitted.
I have done shops for Coyle and stopped because they are not worth the effort. I have never had any other company ask for so much detail. So much that you are concentrating on all the details and missing everything that's going on around you. They are not worth the money. When I finally refused to go back and edit my shop for the third time I told them it was not worth it. Use it if they want and I'll pay for it on my own. I was so frustrated I was not willing to put any more time into it. I paid for everything out of my pocket. Then I quit. They came back to me and said that their clients expect a highly detailed report, as if they were insulting me. No one expects that much detail especially when you have to lie to fill in the blanks.
I think a big mistake that many are making is drawing a comparison between what other companies require...and what Coyle requires.

Coyle is clear about the requirements for the assignments and provides examples. If you feel like the it's not worth it to you, that's fine, but making the statement that no other company requires that level of detail is simply not true. I work for a few hospitality MSCs that require similar to more detail than Coyle. You either accept the job with the level of detail required or decline it. Quit arguing that it's not possible when others do it it daily and have their assignments accepted. Just accept that it's not a good fit for you...
so.. I recently finished my first Coyle hotel 2 night shop... and it got rejected...

I've booked wrong type of room. Guidelines were not 100 % clear for a hotel shop newbie (have 3Y exp. with MS though) - I couldn't find same name of the room on reservation portal as I had in Guidelines. I've checked with scheduler, sent screenshot of reservation portal and asked if this is correct room. I got response that if this room is the one from assignment, I should book it. Not very helpful, I was expecting direct answer but I booked the room.

I found out there is a problem when I was in the hotel and had no access to certain part of the hotel which I was supposed to check. Saturday night, nobody answered in MSC support center. I've decided to continue with the shop as I could buy access to that part separately (Wrong decision.) I've continued to spend more money on hotel restaurants, bars and other services and I've prayed it would be enough (it wasn't).

Coyle tried to discuss with client if report can be accepted anyway but client refused. So, in two days I threw away all MS money I've made on other visits in last two months...

I know I was the one making a mistake but I can't help the feeling that MSC should share the pain since if scheduler spent one more minute looking at my issue and compared the room I've sent in my email with my assignment we would not be in this situation... she offers some bonuses on other visits I might do in the future but there are none in the area (central Europe) and I'm in no mood for another hotel shop anytime soon. Scheduler offered to increase fee of my other project(s) with them ($10 email hotel reservation assignment to $25) but the said bonus is about 2.5% of my expenses from rejected shop. Apart from same email hotel assignment I could do for them next month (different hotel), I don't see any other shops where I could make up some of my losses.

so far I've talked only with that one scheduler as representative from MSC but according to her signature she is on senior position there.

what would you do in my situation? thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Half baked responses have always been my experience with Coyle as well. That’s terrible.

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I will be interested in what others think about Tominoo's situation... based on the location of Central Europe, I am pretty sure I know what assignment we are talking about, but I have never done it. And I am pretty sure that I know the area that needed to be accessed... but I can also see how someone that was unfamiliar with hotels in general - and this brand specifically - might be confused about what room to book. And I can see how there is some culpability on Coyle's part since you tried to reach out to them - twice - for help and did not get adequate assistance.

Interesting and unfortunate situation all around. I am sorry that this happened to you.

Honestly, its a bit unsettling as a whole - and exposes a HUGE vulnerability that the mystery shopper is asked to take on, with sometimes inadequate support on the part of the MSC.

As far as what I would do in the situation - I don't think there is much you can do. But I would feel exactly the way you do, and I certainly would be put off from doing more shops, particularly Coyle's. Frankly, I think Coyle needs to invest in more shopper support - they have been running too lean and responses and help is slow to come and/or often only partial, leaving the shopper to make decisions "on the fly" - this isn't the way that it used to be and I fear that the problem you are describing is probably going to get bigger unless they do something about it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2018 04:01AM by MickeyB.
@MickeyB and @Hoju, I agree with you. I disagree with @SteveSoCal about the MSC being clear about requirements and providing examples. There is lots that is open for interpretation in their guidelines for a major chain hotel audit. My guess is that a large percentage of the MSC's shoppers have concerns about performing a shop correctly and/or whether their report will be accepted. These kinds of concerns are caused by the MSC not providing clear guidelines and examples and not being responsive and clear when shoppers request clarification. The MSC's shops require the outlay of hundreds or thousands of dollars by the shopper, so there really is no excuse for the MSC to not be precise and attentive.
Seems like the solution here is a 10-foot pole. I have a feeling Coyle isn't quite the same since @SteveSoCal left. I was thoroughly unimpressed by how they managed my first hotel eval.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
@MSF wrote:

I disagree about the MSC being clear about requirements and providing examples.

Well...they do provide specific examples and requirements for each assignment. My statement was more to the fact that many don't access the resource center and examples there, and then complain about the work involved. They are clear about the quality and amount of work required.

@Hoju, there are so many variables with the hotel assignments that it's hard to cover every base. I'm not saying that the MSC is without flaw. I'm constantly frustrated by them, but you have put some work in to get comfortable with the assignments.

If the instructions say to book X and you book Y, you have to accept some culpability in that when it goes south. I think every evaluator should be concerned about every assignment they take. I've done close to 40 of the hotel audits in question and I still stress over each one, and every other assignment that I take. Every single hotel has it's own eccentricities and you have to intuit what the best approach is sometimes.

It's not really an excuse, but the explanation is that the MSC simply does not have the resources to be as accurate or helpful as many shoppers want. In order for them to get the projects, they bid it with the resources they have, and I would rather have the opportunities they offer with the caveat of it sometimes being problematic (said from the suite of my hotel paid for by such assignments). Now I gotta go eat my free breakfast....
@SteveSoCal wrote:

@MSF wrote:

I disagree about the MSC being clear about requirements and providing examples.

Well...they do provide specific examples and requirements for each assignment. My statement was more to the fact that many don't access the resource center and examples there, and then complain about the work involved. They are clear about the quality and amount of work required.

@Hoju, there are so many variables with the hotel assignments that it's hard to cover every base. I'm not saying that the MSC is without flaw. I'm constantly frustrated by them, but you have put some work in to get comfortable with the assignments.

If the instructions say to book X and you book Y, you have to accept some culpability in that when it goes south. I think every evaluator should be concerned about every assignment they take. I've done close to 40 of the hotel audits in question and I still stress over each one, and every other assignment that I take. Every single hotel has it's own eccentricities and you have to intuit what the best approach is sometimes.

It's not really an excuse, but the explanation is that the MSC simply does not have the resources to be as accurate or helpful as many shoppers want. In order for them to get the projects, they bid it with the resources they have, and I would rather have the opportunities they offer with the caveat of it sometimes being problematic (said from the suite of my hotel paid for by such assignments). Now I gotta go eat my free breakfast....

Steve - take a look at Tominoo's post. This isn't a case of a shopper not reading the resource center and then getting a report returned for correction or inadequate detail. This is a case where the shopper's instructions were not clear - so they reached out to support, got a response that was basically "you figure it out" and the shopper made the wrong call and are now on the hook for the entire hotel stay because the wrong hotel type was booked (also, this isn't a brand audit I am pretty sure). Furthermore, according to Tominoo, they also called support (after the first email) to ask what to do because they were concerned they were going to have mission failure - but nobody was available because it was a weekend. Assuming this is an accurate representation of the situation - do we not think the MSC owed it to their shopper base to provide a little more support than Tominoo got?

Providing shopper support is a cost of doing business. I know darn well that the schedulers and operations folks at Coyle are doing their best, but you run this lean and rely on this many moving parts and just hope for the best for too long - and it isn't going to work out in the end. And who is going to suffer? The guy in central Europe or Bali or wherever that did their best but in the end didn't make the right call.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2018 02:48AM by MickeyB.
@SteveSoCal, from what I gather, @Tominoo did exactly what you stated: intuit what the best approach is. Tominoo sought clarification and based on the response, carried out the assignment in the in the best way possible. The MSC gave a vague response, which was less than helpful. The shopper, rather than flaking, responsibly carried out the shop.

@SteveSoCal wrote:

If the instructions say to book X and you book Y, you have to accept some culpability in that when it goes south...Every single hotel has it's own eccentricities and you have to intuit what the best approach is sometimes.
Meh. I've been saying Coyle is crap for years.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@SteveSoCal wrote:

@MSF wrote:

I disagree about the MSC being clear about requirements and providing examples.

Well...they do provide specific examples and requirements for each assignment.

There were virtually no examples provided for what they wanted for the 2-night brand standard eval I did a couple month ago. My thread details it appropriately.
I believe the response in the thread was something like "Just take a TON of pictures and you'll be fine." That shouldn't be the way this works.

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@MickeyB wrote:

This isn't a case of a shopper not reading the resource center and then getting a report returned for correction or inadequate detail.

I wasn't specifically replying to Tominoo's post...but reading it, it seems that a rather generic response was offered to the question and the shopper made a decision to move forward despite the room names not matching. Chalk it up to lack of experience or not knowing the client type, but if I have that kind of money on the line and a question is not adequately answered, I would push for a more specific answer before booking. I have put off booking hotels in the past and rescheduled when I did not get the detail needed in time for the booking.

I certainly don't know al the details that went into this debacle and don't doubt that the lack of appropriate response form the MSC helped create the problem, but in the end, we have to be responsible to follow the guidelines exactly of suffer the consequences.

I do know it's not the intention of the MSC to mislead or defraud anyone. It's simply a mater of poor management choices and lack of qualified manpower. I'm sorry this happened and it's an expensive lesson to learn.
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