How to Become a Hotel Tester: The Ultimate Guide
Imagine getting paid to stay in luxurious hotels worldwide and providing feedback – sounds like a dream job, right? You can turn this dream into reality as a hotel tester or secret guest.
Hotel testers are important in assessing the guest experience to ensure quality standards are met . But how does one become a hotel tester?
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, from understanding the role to building your resume to landing your first assignment. You’ll gain insider tips on developing the mystery shopper skillset so you can begin your exciting career as a hotel tester.
What is a Hotel Tester?
A hotel tester, also known as a mystery guest or secret shopper, is an individual hired by hotels to evaluate and assess the quality of their services, facilities, and overall guest experience.
They play a crucial role in ensuring that hotels meet and exceed customer expectations, providing valuable feedback to help improve the overall guest experience.
Assess Facilities and Cleanliness
One of the primary responsibilities of a hotel tester is to evaluate the facilities and cleanliness of a hotel. They meticulously inspect every aspect of the hotel, from the reception area to guest rooms, bathrooms, and common areas.
They assess the cleanliness, maintenance, and functionality of various amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, and spas. By doing so, they ensure that hotels maintain high hygiene standards and provide a comfortable environment for guests.
Evaluate Service and Staff
A hotel tester also evaluates the quality of service provided by hotel staff. They interact with staff members, posing as regular guests, to assess their professionalism, friendliness, and responsiveness.
They evaluate the efficiency of check-in and check-out processes, restaurant waitstaff’s attentiveness, and housekeeping services’ promptness.
By evaluating the service and staff, hotel testers help identify areas where staff training and improvement are needed , ultimately enhancing the overall guest experience.
Provide Detailed Reports
After their evaluation, hotel testers provide detailed reports to hotel management . These reports include their findings, observations, and recommendations for improvement. They often highlight positive aspects and areas that require attention, providing a comprehensive overview of the hotel’s strengths and weaknesses.
These reports are a valuable tool for hotel management to make informed decisions and implement changes to enhance the guest experience.
A hotel tester requires a keen eye for detail, excellent communication skills, and a genuine passion for the hospitality industry . It offers a unique opportunity to experience different hotels, travel to new destinations, and contribute to improving the quality of service in the industry.
Also Read: Getting Paid to Review Hotels: Is It Possible?
Skills and Qualifications
Observation and Documentation
One of the most essential skills for a hotel tester is the ability to observe and document their experiences accurately. Hotel testers are responsible for evaluating various aspects of a hotel, including the rooms’ cleanliness, the amenities’ quality, and the overall customer service.
They must pay attention to detail and notice even the smallest issues or discrepancies . Strong observation skills allow hotel testers to provide valuable feedback to hotel management, helping them improve their services and facilities.
Effective communication is crucial for hotel testers as they must communicate their findings and experiences to management and potential guests. Hotel testers should be able to articulate their observations and recommendations clearly and concisely .
They must communicate any issues or concerns professionally and diplomatically , ensuring their feedback is constructive and helpful.
Also, hotel testers may be required to interact with hotel staff and guests, making strong interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate with different individuals vital .
Hotel testers often have tight deadlines and multiple hotel visits within a specific timeframe. Therefore, strong time management skills are essential. Hotel testers need to be able to plan and prioritize their tasks effectively to ensure they can complete their evaluations within the given timeframe.
This includes managing travel arrangements, scheduling visits, and allocating sufficient time to evaluate each hotel thoroughly. Effective time management allows hotel testers to maximize productivity and provide accurate and timely feedback.
Writing skills are crucial for hotel testers as they are required to write detailed reports and evaluations of their hotel experiences. These reports need to be well-structured, organized, and coherent.
Hotel testers should be able to provide clear descriptions of their observations, including positive aspects and improvement areas. They should also be able to provide specific recommendations and suggestions for hotel management to enhance the guest experience.
Strong writing skills enable hotel testers to convey their findings effectively and provide valuable insights for improving hotel services.
Building Your Profile
Building a strong profile is essential for becoming a hotel tester. This will help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of landing a job in this exciting field.
Here are some key steps to consider when building your profile:
Create a Standout Resume
Your resume is your first opportunity to make a great impression on potential employers. Make sure it is well-structured and highlights your relevant skills and experiences .
Include any previous hotel or hospitality industry experience and any customer service or communication skills that would be valuable in this role.
Don’t forget to mention any certifications or training you have completed in the field.
Highlight Relevant Experience
One of the most important aspects of your profile as a hotel tester is your previous experience in the hospitality industry. Highlight your roles in hotels, resorts, or other hospitality establishments.
This could include front desk staff, concierge, or housekeeping positions. Emphasize any customer service skills you developed in these roles, as they are highly relevant to the job of a hotel tester.
Having certifications related to the hospitality industry can greatly enhance your profile as a hotel tester. Consider obtaining certifications such as Certified Hospitality Professional (CHP) or Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA).
These certifications demonstrate your commitment to the industry and can give you an edge over other candidates. Additionally, certifications in areas such as food safety or event planning can also be beneficial.
Remember that while having a strong profile is important, continuing to learn and improve your skills is also essential . Stay updated with industry trends, attend workshops or conferences, and network with professionals in the field.
This will make you a more attractive candidate for hotel testing positions and help you excel in your career once you land a job in this exciting field.
Finding Hotel Tester Jobs
Are you passionate about travel and hospitality? Do you have an eye for detail and enjoy providing feedback?
If so, becoming a hotel tester might be the perfect job for you. Here are some effective ways to find hotel tester jobs:
Apply with Mystery Shopper Companies
Mystery shopper companies often have opportunities for hotel testers. These companies specialize in evaluating the quality of service and facilities in various industries, including the hospitality sector.
You can access various hotel testing assignments by signing up with these companies.
Some reputable mystery shopper companies include BestMark , International Service Check , and Sinclair Customer Metrics . These companies offer legitimate hotel testing opportunities and provide detailed evaluation guidelines.
Search Job Boards and Classifieds
Job boards and classifieds are another great resource for finding hotel tester jobs. Websites like Indeed , Glassdoor , and Craigslist often list hotel testing positions. Use relevant keywords such as “hotel tester,” “mystery shopper,” or “hospitality evaluator” to narrow down your search.
When applying for hotel tester jobs through job boards or classifieds, carefully read the job descriptions and requirements . Pay attention to the qualifications needed, such as experience in the hospitality industry or specific certifications.
Network and Ask for Referrals
Networking is essential in any job search, and finding hotel tester jobs is no exception. Contact your professional network and tell them you want to become a hotel tester. They may have connections or know someone who can provide you with leads or recommendations.
Additionally, consider joining industry-related associations or attending networking events. These gatherings can provide opportunities to meet professionals in the hospitality industry who may have insights or recommendations for hotel tester positions.
Remember, landing a hotel tester job may require persistence and patience. Keep applying, networking, and refining your skills to increase your chances of finding the perfect hotel testing opportunity.
Becoming a hotel tester allows you to turn your love of travel into an exciting career. With the right blend of skills, preparation, and perseverance, you can begin assessing top-tier hotels and resorts worldwide while being paid for your experiences.
Follow this guide to understand hotel tester roles, build your industry profile, and uncover great job opportunities. Before you know it, you’ll embark on your dream job as a professional hotel tester.
Sara Thomas is the founder of HotelChantelle.com, a website dedicated to hotel safety products that travelers can use for added security and peace of mind.
After an unsettling hotel stay during a work trip, Sara realized a need for portable products that could secure hotel rooms. She launched HotelChantelle.com to provide devices like hidden camera detectors, portable door locks, and other discreet safety tools for travelers.
With a background in law enforcement, Sara understood the vulnerabilities of hotel rooms and wanted to empower travelers to protect themselves. She heads up a team that tests and reviews innovative security products for travelers to use in hotels globally.
Sara is committed to helping travelers feel relaxed and secure during hotel stays through access to protective gear they can easily take on any trip. The site covers products like personal safety alarms, RFID blocking gear to prevent digital pickpocketing, and items to safeguard personal data and belongings in lodging.
When she's not reviewing new products or running the site, Sara enjoys planning family vacations using the safety tools she sells on HotelChantelle.com. She lives with her husband and kids in Atlanta.
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Mystery Shopping Opportunities
How do you go about getting free mystery shopping jobs? Do you have to pay to play or is there a no fee mystery shopping opportunity worth your time?
As a leading designer of effective mystery shopping programs, Coyle Hospitality Group provides free information below so that new shoppers can judge for themselves what opportunities mystery shopping offers them.
What is mystery shopping? Who is a mystery shopper? What is the most important thing to know about mystery shopping? Can you make a full-time living doing mystery shopping? What can I realistically expect as a new mystery shopper? What are some of the tools and equipment I need? How do I begin getting assignments? What are schedulers and scheduling services? What about the web-sites that have mystery shopping listings for a fee? What will a consulting firm expect from me?
Getting Started in Mystery Shopping
If you have decided to become a mystery shopper, let’s begin by addressing some of the questions and issues facing people who want to begin mystery shopping.
What is mystery shopping?
Businesses (herein referred to as ‘the client’) hire a consulting firm, such as Coyle, to design a research program and refer independent evaluators to conduct the research at the client’s business. Most often, this research takes the form of mystery shoppers posing as customers of the client’s business and engaging in typical customer activities. The mystery shoppers prepare a client deliverable that recounts their experience and submits it to the consulting firm. The consulting firm then compiles the data and supplies it to the client. The client uses the information for internal purposes; usually to improve customer service or check the integrity of their branded initiatives. Clients also, when appropriate, commonly solicit advice from the consulting firm on recommended strategies for improving the aspect of the business that was evaluated.
Who is a mystery shopper?
A mystery shopper is an independent contractor who seeks and accepts opportunities to perform mystery shopping engagements for clients. Once an opportunity is accepted, the mystery shopper will evaluate an establishment as a typical customer, focusing on the specific aspect of the client’s business that the client requests. After performing the evaluation, the shopper compiles a client deliverable and submits it to the consulting firm. The shopper is then paid a specified fixed fee amount for their mystery shopping project.
What is the most important thing to know about mystery shopping?
If you become a mystery shopper, understand one thing and never forget it. You are in business for yourself. You will have the same responsibilities of any CEO running a company. You will have to be organized, motivated, and an excellent marketer.
Like any other business, you will have to invest in equipment needed to perform the services you provide.
Most importantly, you will have to keep your customers very happy. There are a lot of other independent contractors who are in the same business as you. The competition, especially for the best assignments, is very stiff. Being a successful mystery shopper takes commitment, sacrifice, and resourcefulness.
Can you make a full-time living doing mystery shopping?
It is very unlikely. Here’s why: The most plentiful shopping opportunities are in retail and fast-food. These shops often pay fees in the range of $5-15 plus reimbursements, meaning you would have to do 40 or more shops a week, every week to make a meaningful income.
Shops that pay higher fees ($100 or more) are often in the financial, apartment rental, time-share, hospitality or specialty business sectors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in many cases, a shopper can never evaluate the same location twice. If you are in a suburban or rural area, your opportunities may become limited very quickly.
Moreover, the time commitment for these shops can be extensive, making it very difficult to do more than a few per week, even if you are very organized and willing to travel.
What can I realistically expect as a new mystery shopper?
You can expect to work really hard, spending many hours registering with mystery shopping companies (there are over 400 known companies in North America alone).
We urge you to avoid any web site that charges you a fee, no matter how good it looks. The same would apply to companies selling directories for a fee.
Mystery shopping is like any other business. It takes time to break-in, and your first opportunities are likely to be the lowest paying, least desirable assignments. You may also only get a handful of assignments within the first few months or more.
What are some of the tools and equipment I need?
You will need to get to the shop, record data, upload it via the internet, and submit paperwork for billing. Many shops call for digital pictures. Learn how to take pictures at all resolution levels and learn how to get them from your camera to your PC. Dig out your cell phone manual and see if you can record notes and employ time stamps.
Must have tools:
- Reliable Transportation
- PC with internet connection
- Digital Camera
- Credit/Debit card that can accept charges of several hundred dollars
- Access to a fax machine
- Paypal Account (almost all companies pay via Paypal)
Good to have tools:
- High Speed Internet Access
- Stopwatch (with elapsed time settings)
- Microsoft Office Software (Word, Excel)
- Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer (most sites optimized for IE)
- Spreadsheet Software for record keeping
Administration & Legal
Nearly every company will be treating you as an independent contractor and will require that you sign Independent Contractor Agreements (ICAs). Make sure you understand you rights and responsibilities before you sign anything.
Secondly, you will be earning income. Organize yourself and learn how to keep records of your correspondences, receipts and expenses.
Volition and MSPA (see below) offer some great resource material on these topics.
How do I begin getting assignments?
Begin by signing up with every reputable mystery shopping company you can. The most popular places to locate reputable, viable mystery shopping companies are below:
MSPA – Mystery Shopping Providers Association
The MSPA is an organization whose primary purpose is to advance the interests of mystery shopping as an industry. As a shopper you should at least be aware of what they stand for.
MSPA has a lot of great resource materials for shoppers free of charge. For a fee, you can become a certified shopper through MSPA. We urge you to do your own due diligence and make your own decision if certification is a wise business investment for you. Be advised that many companies give preference to MSPA certified shoppers.
Volition Mystery Shopping
Volition has three things going for it. First and foremost, the site is actively monitored, so information is current and it is basically spam and scam free. Secondly, it offers more information than any other website about opportunities and things you need to know as the owner of your own business, completely free of charge.
Finally, it is an excellent place to interact with other shoppers through their vast array of forums which receive a lot of traffic. The forums alone are worth a visit because shoppers and mystery shopping companies weigh in on all kinds of topics affecting how you should conduct business.
What are schedulers and scheduling services?
Mystery shopping companies often hire scheduling services to help them locate shoppers. There are several scheduling services, and it is a good idea to be in their database because one scheduling company may serve dozens of mystery shopping companies. You can find out about scheduling services by doing a search on MSPA or by reading the forums and job postings on Volition.
What about the web-sites that have mystery shopping listings for a fee?
We have yet to encounter a single web site offering ‘pay to play’ services that is useful. Any company or web site that charges a fee to register, sign-up, or get access to materials should categorically be avoided.
What will a consulting firm expect from me?
Mystery shopping is a business. If you treat this as a hobby, something fun to do, or as a means to a free meal, the results will be unsatisfactory for all involved. Certainly, you can have fun, but never forget that when you begin an evaluation, you are at work in your business, you are , on the job and professionalism is a requirement .
The main things that mystery shopping companies look for in shoppers are:
Consistent execution of the above will separate you from the crowd over time, positioning your business where you want it to be.
Become a Mystery Shopper and strive to be one of the best, so you can be eligible to perform evaluations for the sought-after clients of Coyle Hospitality Group!
If you like the way we approach the business of mystery shopping, please contact us to design a mystery shopping program for your business.
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We have been working with Coyle since 2019 to mystery shop selected areas across the Baha Mar resort, and they have been working with us as a partner getting the standards to the level we want to work with. The experienced and professional mystery shoppers provide us with great actionable feedback that our teams find extremely useful. We look forward to our continued partnership with Coyle as we continue to work together and gain consistency within our services.
As a cannabis retailer, our #1 goal is to be the industry leader in offering a Five-Star Experience. We searched for potential partners that could align with our vision to execute specific standards and complexities in our business. Coyle was a clear match! Coyle provides our company with the ability to identify opportunities in our consumer’s in-store shopping experience. Their responsive team helped us tailor our in-store service to ensure our teams hit every marker in our Five-Star Experience standard. They’ve been such a great partner to work with!
Coyle provides us with valuable insight into the fan experience. Through their thorough quality assurance standards and vetting process, we have received valuable information regarding the service we deliver that otherwise would be unattainable.
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Confessions of a Hotel Mystery Shopper
The legions of hotel mystery shoppers around the world are just that: a mystery. And, they’d like to keep it that way, thank you.
Try finding a hotel mystery shopper willing to dish on one of their stays. Ask them to reveal the dirt on the unkempt suite, the coquette of a concierge, or the wilted flower that sullied the room service tray. You can’t. According to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) there are some 30,000 of them in the U.S., hired by luxury hotel brands to check-in anonymously and judge mercilessly. But like a CIA agent or the rare hair stylist who’ll keep your secrets, gossip is not in the mystery shopper’s after-hours repertoire. Even if they don’t name names, everything they unearth is strictly confidential.
Perhaps it’s to be expected in an industry where everyone, from the booking agent to the bellhop, is famously discreet. If loose lips sink ships, a too-revealing mystery shopper could certainly submerge an hotelier or two. Thankfully, Stephanie Perrone Goldstein, vice president of sales & marketing for the New York–based Coyle Hospitality (whose clients include Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group), produced a nine-year veteran willing to answer a few questions. The catch: we would speak by phone, with Goldstein playing watchdog, and the mystery shopper would remain nameless and description-less—more incognito than Brangelina on holiday.
Even by phone, the woman radiated confidence. She’d completed over 500 mystery shops in luxury hotels on four continents, and her voice came through the wires sternly, as if she’d been in upper management a day too long. She works as an independent contractor (paid by the job). What she looks for at each hotel varies from client to client—some brands maintain a checklist of ten things to look for upon arrival, others more than 80. “I pack a measuring tape, because a few hotels want me to get down to the nitty-gritty,” she says. “Is the radius of light emitted from the lamp exact? Is the paint on the walls in a particular palette?” Occasionally, she’ll check in as the most obnoxious breed of hotel guest: the road-weary whiner. “I’ll call the front desk and say the room smells like smoke even when it doesn’t, just to see how they’ll respond,” she says. Fake-outs are staged and executed thoroughly; she’ll go as far as empty the batteries from the remote and grumble about the fritzy T.V., or unhook the chain from the toilet to time how long it takes the staff to fix it. It’s an exacting art. After she checks out, her report is written up, fact-checked by Coyle, and delivered back to the client in a matter of weeks. “My goal, honestly, is to get hotels to provide the highest possible level of service,” she says. “When I return to these properties personally—and I do, if they’re great—I get such satisfaction seeing that.”
In the era of Yelp and TripAdvisor , when travelers can report anything at all to the Googling masses, trustworthy accounts are more important than ever to hoteliers. Coyle isn’t alone in providing unbiased evaluations to luxury brands that clamor for it. Zachary Conen, senior vice president of sales and marketing at LRA Worldwide, a mystery shopping firm based in Pennsylvania, says they maintain a stable of 120 full time consultants who travel 42 weeks out of the year. They too are tight-lipped, but happy to tell you their standards, which alter depending on the client. Is there a seasonally appropriate fruit at the front desk? Did you get a call from the concierge within thirty minutes of check-in? Are the amenities Gilchrist & Soames, and perfectly arranged? Competition for the positions is fierce: you’re required to have three years of management experience in the hospitality industry, excellent written and inter-personal skills, and a credit line of up to $f7,500—presumably for booking your travel, which is reimbursed in its entirety. Once you’re hired, there are other hurdles (namely, weeks of training at LRA University, learning the intricacies of each luxury brand.) The coursework is hush hush, of course, but it may be among the cushiest of educational experiences on the planet. One can picture these people lazing about in hotel robes, fawning over thread count quantities and proper lobby manner with equal zeal.
The concept of sending in a ringer to report back is nothing new. Mystery shopping began in the 1930’s with three men touring the country, staking out Woolworth’s and Kresge’s (now Kmart) department stores. It gained traction during the civil rights era, when the government hired black and white “customers” to investigate the compliance, and the prolific lack thereof, to desegregation laws in restaurants and corner stores alike. Today it’s a $1.5 billion-a-year production, a large chunk of which is travel-based. “In the late 1980’s, Hilton was among the first luxury hotel brands to utilize the service,” says Mike Bare, co-owner and president of Bare International and one of the original founders of the MSPA. Three decades later, it’s common practice among hotel brands around the world. (Proof: LRA recently opened a satellite office in busy Singapore.) And soon enough, its taciturn nature may be over.
“You’ll see the secretive side of mystery shopping change; it’s becoming a vestige of the past,” says Jeff Gurtman, a former executive at both Coyle and LRA and now vice president of brand strategy for Dana Communications, a hospitality marketing agency. The wealth of online reviews has reignited the idea that the customer’s feedback is not only important, but critical to success. Starwood recently announced that it’s allowing guest commentary, both good and bad, on its own websites; and more and more guests are leaving feedback directly on Facebook. “Hoteliers read online reviews thoroughly,” Gurtman says. “If they notice a trend there that speaks to a problem, they have mystery shoppers to go in and test it with surgical precision.” Essentially, they’re hiring people to complain so you never have to. And in the thoughtfulness-driven economy of high-end hotels, that might be the most considerate act of all.
29 Best Places to Find Legitimate Mystery Shopper Jobs
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Mystery shoppers are paid to act like regular, everyday shoppers and provide feedback on their experience with a company. To get started, just sign up with mystery shopping companies in your area, choose your assignments, and start shopping.
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How would you like to get paid to shop with the best mystery shopping companies?
That’s exactly what thousands of people are doing to earn extra money each month.
The companies that pay these “mystery” shoppers need feedback for their business, and they pay mystery shoppers to collect it.
What Is a Mystery Shopper?
A mystery shopper is a person who’s paid to act like a regular, everyday shopper, and then provide feedback on their experience.
Reputable mystery shopping companies give secret shoppers a list of tasks to complete, such as asking specific questions about a product or receiving a service (e.g. an oil change).
After the tasks have been completed, the mystery shopper reports feedback on things like the store’s cleanliness, the employees’ helpfulness, and other details about their experience.
Companies pay secret shoppers for providing this information. In most cases, they also reimburse shoppers for any expenses incurred.
Related: 18 Best Sites for Taking Paid Surveys
How to Become a Secret Shopper (and Find Mystery Shopper Jobs Near You)
Becoming a mystery shopper is simple. All you do is sign up with the best mystery shopping companies in your area, choose your tasks or assignments, and start shopping.
You can sign up with as many mystery shopping services as you like. The more companies you sign up with, the more opportunities you have to make easy money.
One secret shopper worked for 75 companies (at his peak) and made $14,000 in one year just from performing mystery shops on weekends, during his lunch break, and on the way home from work.
29 Best Mystery Shopping Companies to Work For
Need money now and wondering where to find the best mystery shopper jobs nearby? Check out these companies.
1. Ath Power Consulting
Some mystery shopping companies have a wide variety of gigs, while others focus on a certain niche. Ath Power Consulting focuses on the financial and banking industry.
If you complete a mystery shopping gig for the company, you’ll likely have to go into a bank and describe your experience. It also has some jobs that involve going into an airport; these are only available if you already have security clearance.
Ath Power Consulting is a member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) and is an Elite Member for the fifth consecutive year. Its website says the company offers more than 10,000 mystery shopping jobs a month and has more than 500,000 mystery shoppers registered.
Unlike some other mystery shopping companies, Ath doesn’t pay out right away. It only pays twice a month instead of immediately following a shopping gig.
How it works:
- Sign up to work for Ath.
- Create an account using your email address.
- Fill in your personal information such as your name, address, and demographic details (i.e. race, income, level of education).
Related: 11 Best Shopping Apps to Save Money on Everything
BARE hires mystery shoppers to do in-person or over-the-phone customer chat or video visits. The company was given a Shopper’s Choice award from the MSPA in 2019.
This award is voted on by people who complete mystery shopping jobs, and it means BARE was one of their favorite companies to work for.
When you sign up to work for BARE, you’ll be able to list five area codes in which you want to mystery shop in. This is helpful if you work and live in different area codes and want to maximize your earnings.
- Sign up to be a mystery shopper.
- Choose your language.
- Enter your email address.
- Pick your country.
- Enter your demographic information.
Related: 50 Ways to Make Money Online for Free
3. Secret Shopper
Secret Shopper is a well-established company that helps clients improve their businesses using mystery shoppers to gather data.
It has been around since 1993 and are very credible with many awards, including the MSPA Elite award for 2018. It’s free to sign up, and you set your own hours.
- Sign up to shop on the company’s website.
- Choose your country.
- Read and agree to its Shopper Basics rules and guidelines.
- Complete the basic certification test that verifies that you read all the rules.
- Fill out your personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, etc.
- After entering your personal information, you’ll receive your shopper ID and password. Use your ID and password to log in, then view and schedule available shops to complete.
Related: 16 Ways You Can Get Paid to Shop for Others
4. Market Force
At Market Force, you’ll complete mystery shop requests for banks, restaurants, and stores. You’ll provide feedback for things such as cleanliness, product selection, and customer service.
Market Force has been awarded MSPA Shopper’s Choice Award, voted on by real mystery shoppers, four years in a row .
- Create a Shopper Force Account.
- Answer several questions about your criminal background.
- Sign and date the Terms of the Agreement.
Pinnacle has been around for 20 years. It assists financial institutions by helping them improve service and sales quality.
Its secret shoppers work solely with credit unions and banks, making it a great choice for anybody interested in finance. It’s completely free to become a mystery shopper with Pinnacle.
- Click the button that says New Shopper Sign Up .
- Add your basic personal information, including bank account details (so you can get paid).
- Answer demographic questions to help Pinnacle find the best jobs for you.
- Agree to the terms.
6. A Closer Look
A Closer Look has won several awards from the MSPA, including the “Elite Company” award for 2018 and the Shopper’s Choice Award in 2019. It specializes in industries such as restaurants, specialty retail, senior living, hotels, and entertainment.
- Click the red button that says Become a Mystery Shopper .
- Provide a current email address.
- Once your email has been approved, you’ll receive a link to the application page (the link expires within 48 hours).
- You’ll have to fill out personal and demographic information, and write a sample essay with “a minimum of two full paragraphs describing your last casual or fine dining restaurant experience.” This essay will be partially used to determine your eligibility, so try to do a good job on this.
- Submit and wait for a response.
7. Quest for Best
Quest for Best provides mystery shopping opportunities in over 40 states in the US, mostly concentrated in the Midwest and Southwest states. You can see its full map here . Its opportunities include things like eating at a restaurant, bowling, and going to a movie theater.
- Click the Become a Shopper link .
- Read the Independent Contractor agreement.
- Fill out the Online Shopper Profile, including contact and demographic information such as gender, which languages you speak fluently, if you have camera access to do hidden video shops, and if you have airport security clearance.
- If there’s a job in your area, Quest for Best will give you the info for the shop. If not, it’ll store your profile until a shopping opportunity is available for you.
IntelliShop serves an extensive list of over 50 industries, so you’re bound to receive mystery shopping jobs that interest you.
The company also received a 2019 Shoppers’ Choice Award from the MSPA, as chosen by actual mystery shoppers. This means they voted IntelliShop as one of the best mystery shopping companies to work for.
- Click the button that says “Go” on the Shopper Sign-Up page.
- Enter your email.
- Read the independent contractor agreement.
- Add your basic personal information, including your bank details (so you can get paid).
- Complete the demographic questionnaire.
- Enter your tax information.
- Agree to the terms and contract.
9. Perception Strategies, Inc.
Perception Strategies, Inc. focuses on healthcare mystery shops. The company has performed over 150,00 healthcare mystery shops since 1998.
Its mystery shopping gigs range from calling a doctor’s office to get a quote for a particular service, doing an in-person visit without making an appointment, or completing a full-length visit.
This mystery shopping company focuses on giving healthcare providers the feedback they need to make their patients’ experience the best possible. It has a list of the cities and areas where it needs mystery shoppers the most.
- Visit the Shopper Application .
- Check out the list of immediate openings.
- If your location doesn’t have an immediate opening, you’ll be notified of any that come up once your application is on file.
- Fill out the information in the application such as if you’ve ever had a felony or worked for a healthcare provider, and submit.
10. Sinclair Customer Metrics
Since 1987, Sinclair has helped thousands of businesses improve their overall customer experience. It offers a wide variety of tasks, including video, phone, and in-person mystery shops. Sinclair is a member of the MSPA.
- To sign up with Sinclair , enter your name and email.
- Read the provided Information for Mystery Shoppers document.
- Review and agree to the Independent Contractor agreement.
- Fill out the secure online application.
- Take the Sinclair New Shopper Challenge.
- Take the New Shopper Survey.
11. Ipsos (formerly GfK)
If you live outside the US and are looking to mystery shop internationally, check out Ipsos. Your secret shops will be either in person, by phone, through email, or using web chat.
Ipsos secret shoppers perform mystery shops ranging from gas stations, to banks, to restaurants.
Supported countries include:
- United States
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Sign up here.
- Enter your email, country, and ZIP Code.
- Enter your address, contact information, and gender.
- Fill in more personal details such as height, weight, marital status, occupation, and the type of equipment you have.
- Read its agreement.
Related: DollarSprout’s Ipsos i-Say Review
BestMark is one of the largest mystery shopper companies and has been around since 1986. It’s a member of the MSPA and offers 10,000-plus mystery shop assignments each month for restaurants, hotels, and resorts. The payment will differ based on the assignment that you choose.
- Click the “Sign Up Now” button on the right-hand side of its become a shopper page .
- Fill in your basic personal information, demographic questions, work history, ethnicity, and create a password.
- Read and agree to the independent contractor agreement, guidelines, and policies.
- Once you submit this information, you’ll be able to see which in-person or phone/web mystery shopping gigs are available.
13. Second to None
Second to None looks for mystery shoppers for a couple of specific jobs. Right now the company is looking for those who are AARP members or willing to talk to insurance brokers and organizations. Check in often to see when it updates its requirements.
- Apply to be a Second to None mystery shopper .
- Fill in your contact information, and create your login.
- Submit your application.
ACPVIEW, which stands for a customer’s point of view, does mystery shops for retail, grocery stores, casual and fast food dining options, airports, public transportation, retail banking, and government agencies.
- Type in your email address and country.
- Read the Services Agreement and Release.
AboutFace has been around for 20 years and is a member of the MSPA. It has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and offers mystery shopping jobs in all 50 states. According to the site, it pays 15% more than the industry average, but its rates aren’t clearly stated.
- Sign up to be an AboutFace Mystery Shopper .
- Type in your contact information.
- Read the Independent Contractor Agreement.
- Wait to verify your email.
- Add information such as your PayPal email address, a picture of your driver’s license, a picture of yourself, and answer a few basic questions.
Confero offers mystery shopping opportunities in food service, retail, banking, automotive, healthcare, consumer products, airports, movie theaters, theme parks, and tourist attractions.
- Sign up to be a Confero Mystery Shopper.
- Type in your email address and select your country.
- Read and agree to the Independent Contractor Agreement.
- Fill in your contact and demographic information.
- Choose which area codes you live and work in. This will determine what opportunities you get.
17. Amusement Advantage
Amusement Advantage is a mystery shopping company that pays people to mystery shop at amusement parks, bowling alleys, zoos, museums, aquariums, and other popular attractions. You have to be just as detailed-oriented for these gigs, even though they can be more fun than going to a grocery store.
In some cases, you’re only paid via free admission for the mystery shop assignment and free tickets afterward. You can earn an extra $5 if you fulfill the mystery shop by 10 a.m. the day after your assignment.
You’ll also earn $20 if you refer new mystery shoppers to Amusement Advantage. The downside is that it takes 30 to 45 days to receive payment, which is longer than other companies. Amusement Advantage is a member of the MSPA.
- Sign up to join Amusement Advantage here .
- Create an account.
- Fill in your contact information and birthdate.
- Submit and see which opportunities are available in your state.
Mystery shoppers who complete gigs for SeeLevel will find opportunities within the fast food, retail, financial services, and automotive industries. If you want to get a free meal while you complete a mystery shopping job, then you should sign up with SeeLevel. Payments are sent via PayPal.
- Register with SeeLevel using your email address.
- Fill in your contact and demographic information including birthday, gender, household income, height, weight, and area codes near where you live and work.
- Submit and wait to hear back.
19. Shopper’s View
Shopper’s View is a founding member of the MSPA and offers mystery shopping opportunities. It offers mystery shopping gigs with food, retail, and even sporting events.
It also offers telephone mystery shopping gigs, which is perfect if you can’t drive or don’t have regular access to a car. Shopper’s View has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- Start your Shopper’s view profile.
- Select your language.
- Type in your email address and choose your country.
- Fill in the contact and demographic information.
iSecretShop is available both as a phone app and on a desktop browser. If you use the app, you can usually fill in all the required information so you don’t have to type everything in separately on a computer.
You can choose from in-person shops, web and phone shops, and polls. Look through the job board once you’ve registered to see the list of available opportunities.
iSecretShop pays via PayPal.
- Visit iSecretShop’s site.
- Fill in your contact and demographic information including gender, number of children, and address.
RBG, or RealityBasedGroup, is a member of the MSPA. It offers video, written, phone, and online mystery shopping opportunities. Some of its clients include Goodwill, Texas Roadhouse, Cinnabon, and SportsClips.
It says other clients include department stores, bookstores, banks, gyms, and restaurants. There’s a wide variety of gigs available, so you’re more likely to find something you enjoy.
- Register with RBG by filling in your email address and selecting your country.
22. Mercantile Systems Inc.
Mercantile Systems Inc. is a member of the MSPA. It offers mystery shopping opportunities including restaurants, hotels, storage facilities, golf courses, retail, healthcare, and financial service providers.
It pays within 45 days of the assignment being completed, which is a little longer than normal. Shoppers have 24 hours to complete the assignment.
- Sign up for Mercantile Systems here.
- Type in your contact and demographic information.
- Sign the Independent Contractor/Shopper Agreement.
- Verify your email address.
Mystery Shopping Jobs by Phone
If in-person shopping isn’t your thing, or if you don’t have time to visit stores, then secret shopping by phone may be a better fit for you.
23. Call Center QA
Call Center QA helps organizations improve the quality and helpfulness of their call centers. This company is a good option if you like chatting on the phone and have excellent reading and writing skills and attention to detail.
You can complete all your calls from home using your landline or mobile phone. It pays $5 per call, and each call and feedback form takes around 15 minutes to complete. You’ll receive payment within seven business days.
- Fill out the application including basic information questions, education, homeownership, if you own or lease a car, and how you heard about the company.
- You must be a resident of the US and be at least 18 years old.
- Click submit. You’ll receive further information after completing the application.
24. ARC Consulting
With ARC, you’re paid via PayPal per mystery phone call. How much work and pay you receive depends on the opportunities it has available at the time.
The application says it’s hiring from select countries and looking for people who speak a variety of languages.
- Complete the online ARC Consulting application .
- Enter your contact details, PayPal payment information, gender, and birthdate.
- Add your login details and submit.
Yardi-Matrix provides a job opportunity for those interested in taking surveys for the commercial real estate industry. If hired, your job will be to call apartment communities pretending to be a renter. The company will provide you with specific questions to ask.
To complete the tasks, you’ll need high-speed internet access and a phone. You’ll be paid $6 per hour with additional pay as follows:
- $0.50 for completed surveys
- $0.30 for surveys with a wrong number
- $0.20 for partially-completed surveys
- $0.07 for surveys with an answering machine or no answer
Users must complete 75 surveys the first week and 100 surveys each following week. You’ll have to call between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. in its surveyed time zones.
- Send a copy of your current resume to the Yardi Matrix contact .
- The company will contact you with further details.
Observa is a mystery shopping app available on both iPhone and Android devices. You have to download the app to receive mystery shopping gigs.
It has a 4.3 rating from the App Store and a 4.4 rating from the Google Play Store. Its official app description says that payments are between $4 and $20. Payment is made within 24 hours via PayPal. You can also choose to be paid in Bitcoin.
27. Field Agent
Field Agent is a mystery shopping app where you can get assignments once you create an account. Previous companies and assignments include AutoZone, Amazon Fresh Pickup, Walmart convenience stores, and Dollar General’s new DGX store.
Field Agent has a 4.8 rating on the App Store and a 4.0 rating on the Google Play Store.
According to the app description, jobs pay between $3 and $20. The app will review photos and descriptions and pay out two days after you submit them.
Merchandiser is an app available on both iPhone and Android devices. The app has a 4.3 rating on the App store and a 4.1 rating on the Google Play Store. It’s not exactly a mystery shopping app. The gigs available on Merchandiser are more retail-related, like:
- Restocking shelves
- Putting stickers on items
- Counting inventory
- Setting up promotional displays
Download the app, fill in your information, and wait to get gigs in your area. Shoppers are paid via PayPal, and most gigs take about 15 minutes to do.
Gigwalk is a member of the MSPA, unlike some of the other apps on this list. The app has a 4.6 rating on the App Store and a 3.7 rating on the Google Play Store.
The app pays via PayPal. According to the site, gigs can take between five minutes to several hours and pay between $3 and $100. Not all gigs are mystery-shopping related. They range from taking pictures of a house for insurance purposes to double checking prices at the grocery store.
You can complete assignments straight from the app, so you don’t have to go home and log onto a computer to complete an assignment.
How to Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams
Our list of mystery shopping companies only includes legitimate options. However, not all companies are as high caliber, and some are complete scams. Here’s what to watch out for.
Only choose from a trusted list of mystery shopping companies.
When searching for reputable mystery shopping companies, make sure you sign up for companies recommended by trusted sources.
Check to see if the company is a member of the MSPA. You can find a list of its member companies here . If it’s not on here, check Trustpilot or the Better Business Bureau. If you don’t see any online footprint, then it’s probably not worth doing business with.
Never wire money.
If you’re asked by a mystery shopping company to deposit a check into your personal account, withdraw the amount in cash, and wire it to a third party, don’t do it. The check is fake, and it’s a scam.
The check may look like it’s gone through and the money has appeared in your account, but it hasn’t officially cleared. It can take banks weeks to uncover a fake check.
Once the fake check is discovered, you’ll likely be held responsible for paying back the bank for the amount you deposited and withdrew. Play it safe and never deposit a check from someone you don’t know if you’re going to wire the money back.
Never pay in advance to become a mystery shopper.
All of the mystery shopping companies listed above are completely free to sign up for, and that’s for a reason. If you ever come across a mystery shopping company that asks you to pay money to join, it’s a scam.
Related: 6 Common Work-from-Home Scams to Look Out For
Find Your Ideal Mystery Shopping Niche
Mystery shopping is a fun side hustle because you can often get free food or be reimbursed for buying specific products. If you already work near a mall, shopping plaza, or busy downtown area, then you don’t have to worry about driving around a lot.
Like most side hustle apps and websites, you can sign up with several different mystery shopping companies to maximize your rewards. This also lets you see which have the highest hourly rate and are worth completing.
Because some jobs take longer than others, it can be hard to gauge which companies are better until you’ve had some experience.
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Vacation as a mystery shopper
Mystery Shopping , Travel
Have you ever found yourself daydreaming at your desk about finding a different way to make money? What if there was a way for you to get paid to go on vacation? As surprising as it may sound, there is such a line of work: mystery shopping .
Mystery shopping for travel can be a great way to save you money on trips. In fact, individuals can enjoy savings of upwards of 50 percent on flights and hotels while mystery shopping, according to FlightNetwork.com. That said, there are a few things that make mystery shopping for travel a little more unique than other mystery shopping services out there. Mystery shoppers are likely to experience a few more vacation limitations when doing it while traveling.
For starters, you need to have a flexible schedule. More often than not, mystery shoppers in travel only find work on specific dates. The same can be true whether you’re mystery shopping hotels or airlines. Mystery shoppers are responsible for finding the flights and matching accommodations, otherwise they’re likely to have to shoulder one of the costs themselves. You should also be aware of the fact that mystery shopping companies aren’t likely to pay for or reimburse you for any traveling companions. But if you’re willing to go on trips by yourself, this might be the perfect gig for you!
The travel industry is constantly searching for new ways to improve their services and mystery shopping has become an important tool. Here are a few things a good mystery shopper will be on the lookout for when traveling:
It can be difficult to find someone who enjoys flying, and sometimes it’s not due to any fear of being in the air. Individuals are often averse to flying because the inconveniences and annoyances along the way. Mystery shoppers are tasked with the job of helping airlines become one of the best around.
It starts with the airline employees who work in the airport. They are the first workers that you’re likely to interact with as a traveler. It’s important to know they’re able to handle the responsibilities that come with getting you (and your luggage!) to your destination in one piece. As a mystery shopper, you’ll have to make sure airline employees are ready and willing to help, even before you step on the plane. Once you’re on the plane, it’s a good idea to sample the available amenities onboard. You’ll probably want to have an in-flight meal and try out some of the available forms of entertainment.
Mystery shopping in the hospitality industry can be very rewarding. Not only will you get to see somewhere new, you’ll also be exposed to local restaurants and entertainment, too. Depending on what hotel you’re at, you might also want to check out some of the on-site amenities. Explore the hotel pool and restaurants, making sure you pay attention to the cleanliness of the pool area and the friendliness of the wait staff.
In the same vein, stop by the hotel concierge desk to see how helpful the service is for travelers. In your hotel room, it’s a good idea to check out everything it comes with. Test out the TV and Internet to make sure both are working, and be sure the towels and toiletries are all clean and accounted for.
Remember, you’re the eyes for prospective travelers staying here in the future, so be sure you’re thorough.
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