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Implementing Mystery Shopping Research For Restaurants

Entering the realm of market research can make the concept of mystery shopping seem a bit opaque. It’s not about embarking on a quest for crime novels or a game night adventure with family, although those guesses aren’t far off! Mystery shopping is a specialized form of market research where a shopper meticulously documents their entire shopping experience.

What distinguishes mystery shopping is that the customer service representatives at the visited stores or establishments are unaware that the shopper is there for research purposes. It’s this element of anonymity that gives it the “mystery” label. But what does one buy from a restaurant, you might wonder?

Let’s unravel the intricacies of implementing a mystery shopping program specifically tailored for restaurants and the hospitality industry. It’s akin to finding hidden treasures in the world of research!

What exactly is Mystery Shopping?

At its core, mystery shopping involves a trained individual clandestinely assessing a specific location and then evaluating their experience based on various criteria. This evaluation can take place through in-person visits, online research, or even over the phone. The fundamental principle remains consistent: the establishment being assessed remains unaware of the shopper’s role in evaluating their experience.

The Benefits for Restaurants Engaging in Mystery Shopping

The hospitality industry perpetually adapts to meet consumer expectations. Restaurants, resorts, and casinos can gain substantial advantages from integrating a mystery shopping initiative. Especially in the wake of the enduring impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to identify and address any shortcomings in the customer experience.

Conducting mystery shopping for restaurants can effectively highlight areas necessitating improvement. Employing an unbiased third-party like Drive Research ensures a fresh perspective that might otherwise be overlooked internally.

Interested in further exploring the benefits of mystery shopping? Have a look at this concise video presentation.

The Process of Implementing a Restaurant Mystery Shopping Program

Mystery shopping seamlessly integrates into various facets of the hospitality industry. Typically, a market research entity recruits “guests” who proceed to book a room, stay at the restaurant, and subsequently provide feedback on different aspects of their experience. Here’s a delineation of the meticulous six-step process our mystery shopping firm follows:

  1. Recruitment and Training of Mystery Guests: Individuals acting as “guests” are carefully chosen and briefed on the evaluation process. These mystery shoppers may either be trained professionals or individuals representing your target market.
  2. Room Reservation: The recruited guests book a room at the restaurant, allowing them to evaluate the reservation process and offer insights on possible improvements.
  3. Check-In and Initial Impressions: The check-in process sets the tone for the guest’s experience. Mystery guests focus on assessing the strengths and weaknesses of this initial interaction.
  4. Stay Experience and Assessment: Throughout their stay, mystery guests perform a series of tasks, observing how staff handle issues and assessing services or amenities that may require attention. This can involve interactions such as calling the front desk for extra towels, ordering room service, or reporting concerns about cleanliness.
  5. Check-Out and Final Interaction: As the guest prepares to leave, the check-out process represents the last opportunity for the restaurant staff to leave a positive impression.
  6. Submission of Evaluation: After their stay, mystery guests submit comprehensive evaluation forms detailing every facet of their experience. This information serves as invaluable feedback for ongoing improvements.
  7. Comprehensive Market Research Report: The culminating step involves the delivery of a detailed report by the mystery shopping research partner. This report comprehensively outlines the study’s findings, featuring an executive summary, in-depth analysis per question, participant quotes, and actionable recommendations for enhancing the customer experience.

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