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Current Goal: Eliminate Mortgage on Rental Property

January 1, 2019: $59,592
February 18, 2020: $54,200
2/14/20 paid an extra $750 towards principal

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Monday, June 28

High End Mystery Shopping: Mystery Shopping a Luxury Hotel

Ever wanted to live in the lap of luxury and not have to pay for it? Who hasn't!?! Mystery shopping has enabled me to shop - but not purchase - $4,000 watches and $5,000 surround sound systems. I've eaten $200 dinners and gourmet chocolates. But none of those experiences tops the mystery shop I completed last week.

Mystery Shopping the Luxury Hotel

Last week I checked into a high end hotel. When I checked out the next day, my bill + tips was $700. I don't have to pay for any of it. In fact, in addition to all charges being reversed, I am being paid a fee for completing the shop.

If you've ever considered shopping at the high-end level, there are definitely some things to take into account:
  • Companies don't refund $700 in charges because they are nice. They are exchanging the value of these charges for detailed information.
  • The level of detail required for this type of shop is unlike any other shop you could do. Gathering names are required, for example. My instructions were to keep repeating a scenario until I had a name, no excuses.
  • It wasn't all fun and games. Much of my time at the hotel really was spent working. When I was not posing a scenario on an employee, I was usually working on my report.
  • Don't get me wrong, I had a great time. But it's all about perspective. By great time, I mean I got a full night's sleep, enjoyed some wonderful food, and even spent a little time at the pool.
Here's a synopsis of what the job required:
  • I had to evaluate valet parking, the doorman, the bellhop, housekeeping, turn down service, the driver of the town car, the front desk, the operator, and several restaurant employees. Many of these evaluations had to be performed more than once: check-in AND check-out, the doorman each time I entered or exited, etc.
  • I had to evaluate dinner, room service, the coffee bar and lunch. These were all in different venues at the hotel.
  • Much of the report was yes/no questions, but each section did require commentary. Fortunately, the commentary was generally only required for negative responses. If the scenario was all positive, one or two sentences summarizing it were adequate.
Mystery shopping hotels, and particularly high-end properties, is not for everyone. If you think you'll have hours to lounge around the pool, sip martinis and get a pedicure, you'll be disappointed. But it can be a relaxing getaway as long as you stay on top of your paperwork. It's much easier to fill in the report after each scenario is performed than to try to do a marathon report at the end - probably impossible to remember enough details to do the latter. Having said that, I have no regrets at all. In fact, I am already signed up to shop another nice hotel in July.


  1. Very interesting. So it's like trading a that cut in costs for something that I would have likely done mentally anyway... Seems like a wonderful deal.

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  2. What company does the high-end hotel shops? I've never seen them. If you don't mind, please send me your contact info for these to annschermer @ hotmail .com.

    Thank you and keep writing, I enjoy reading your blog. -ann

    1. Since no hotel name was mentioned, it's okay to let you know that Coyle Hospitality does hotels that are on the Conde Nast Gold List. But they require considerable narrative for EVERY section, so he may be talking about a different company. In my experience, 90% of your trip is taken up with the shop. You are generally shopping so your companion can enjoy herself.

    2. I've heard that Coyle offers them but I don't have experience with Coyle. The high end are done by Buckalew Hospitality and B Business Solutions. Mid range by A Closer Look. Low end were done by Freeman Group but I suspect they are going out of business.

  3. It takes a lot to get with Coyle. I've never gotten a shop offer from Buckalew and B Business Solutions only does hotel restaurants where I'm at. (No clue who does the high end shops here, but it's not anybody I'm currently signed with.)

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