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Hotel Mystery Shopping (How It’s Done)

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What if I told you that it’s possible to stay at a hotel and get paid for it.  Some even pay you for room service, spa treatments and much more.

Yep, it’s not a scam nor do you need to pay for this sort of information.  That’s what I’m here for.

In today’s post, I wanted to talk about the many mystery shopping companies that will pay you to test out some hotels in the area and pay you to create a report at the end of your stay.  Yes, you will have to work in a way, but if you want to get out of town, stay the night at a nice hotel and get rewarded, then this gig may be something for you to consider.  Some people make some good money doing it!

First, let’s talk about what mystery shopping is…

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “mystery shopping,” it’s pretty straight forward.

As the name implies, you will shop as a “mystery” person, usually analyzing things such as how an employee interacts with you, the cleanliness of the store or other metrics a company wants to measure, all while being undercover, acting like a normal shopper.  They then use this information to help evaluate the quality of service.

And, since you’re a mystery shopper, acting like every other shopper in the store, the employee will never know you’re analyzing them.  This is why it’s so important to keep it a secret so that the employees don’t act in a way they wouldn’t.  Trust me, it isn’t hard.  Just shop as you normally would and you will be just fine.

When you do decide to work, you will always know what’s expected of you before you even accept the job since you’re considered an independent contractor.  By definition, you can choose any job you want, working as much or as little as you wish.  Just open up the company’s job board and choose one of interest.

Mystery shopping is extremely easy to do, but as with all jobs, you just need to make sure you follow the directions closely to ensure that you get paid.  All reputable mystery shopping companies will always let you know what questions they want answered as well as what is expected of you before the job even begins.

So, in the world of mystery shopping, there’s almost always a job in every industry, from fast food to fine dining to yes, even hotels.  You just need to know which companies work with the most popular hotel chains if that’s what you’re looking for.

That’s where I can help.

What is expected of me?

As a hotel mystery shopper, it really depends on what company you work with.

In general, you will often be given a checklist before your stay and will be asked to fill it out in its entirety 24 hours after your stay.  Some of these questions may include:

  • Were the grounds maintained?
  • What was the atmosphere like?
  • Was the staff friendly?
  • How long did it take to check in?
  • How clean was your room?
  • Was the housekeeping satisfactory?
  • Were the hallways clean?
  • Was room service accurate?

For example, a hotel mystery shopper interviewed by Travel and Leisure Magazine, was asked to complain about a smoke smell in the room, when it didn’t smell like smoke to see how the front desk reacted.  They also had to perform particular measurements, such as how far the lamp light omitted and so forth.  Others ask you to unchain the toilet to see how long it takes to get fixed. There’s usually a lot to do, sometimes upwards of 50+ things to check, but again, it greatly depends on the hotel chain and company you’re working with.   You will get a checklist with questions that need to be answered, all of which you will know ahead of time.

In the end, you’re responsible for letting the hotel chain know what’s working as well as what isn’t to ensure a hotel can provide the highest level of service.  This will include filling out a report of sorts, answering these questions in detail.

Hotel Mystery Shopper Salary

As a hotel mystery shopper, how much you get paid greatly depends on the company you’re working with as well as which jobs you expect.

From my personal experience, the company will always pay for your hotel stay, which averages anywhere from $100 to $200 per night, plus time for your report write-up.  In this case, you could profit anywhere from $50 to $100 on top of your free hotel stay.

Again, it varies based on the company you sign up for, but you will always know how much you can make before you even accept the job as this is standard in the industry.

The Best Hotel Mystery Shopping Companies

In the following section, I did my research and found the most popular hotel mystery shopping companies that are hiring right now.  While you’re working with the company, you’re actually signing up to view their job board.  If approved, you can immediately browse the board and apply to any jobs you want to complete.  Yes, you can work whenever you want!

Most of the companies work in the same, wherein they ask you to apply, just like a job, and will then approve you as long as you fit their criteria. Most aren’t strict.  They just want to make sure you’re a legal U.S. citizen and have your personal information on file.  They also want to make sure you have an eye for detail and can write a grammatically-free report.

Some of these companies will have more work than others, but nonetheless, you’re not limited to just one.  That’s why I recommend you apply to as many as possible so that you can have more hotel jobs to choose from.  After all, you’re an independent contractor and can work for whomever you choose.

Remember, an honest mystery shopping company will never ask you to pay to join their database!  They will ask for your social security number, however.  In doing this, just make sure you research the companies in depth, especially if you don’t see them on my list, to ensure they are legit.  If you’re uncomfortable in providing your social security number, then I would recommend you apply for an EIN and use that instead.

And, again, after you apply and get approved, you can then access a job board, where you can view the job details and accept what you want to work on.  All of these companies will have videos/FAQ guides to teach you how their platform works in general.

Let’s begin!

Coyle Hospitality

Out of all the mystery shopping companies I note here, Coyle is probably one of the largest, offering the most hotel jobs.  However, the reason they have so many jobs is due to the high writing standards and rigorous application process.  They don’t accept everyone who applies.

In applying, they do ask that you write a lengthy writing sample, something that’s pretty uncommon in the mystery shopping world.  But, if you have what it takes and can get approved, then you can have quite the pick of jobs.  If you do plan on applying, just make sure that you read the company’s style guide as they want you to follow it when you submit the sample.

If you get approved, jobs do go to the higher tenured evaluators with the highest ratings, but don’t let that scare you as plenty of jobs are often available.  Just prove yourself to the company and you could soon have a pick of the best jobs at first.

Aside from hotel gigs, Coyle also works in the restaurant, tourism, cruise, spa, luxury retail and banking industry.


Bestmark is another gigantic mystery shopping company that focuses in almost every industry, not just hotels.  While you can find hotel mystery shopping opportunities while working for them, just let it be known that there’s much more to it.  I have mentioned them quite a bit, particularly in my best weekend only paying jobs and 61+ ways to make $1,000 fast posts.

To become a mystery shopper, all they ask is that you’re 18+ years old, have reliable transportation, good written communication skills and be able to focus on details.  This can be said with any mystery shopping job, not just Bestmark.  As long as you can meet deadlines, follow detailed instructions and write a well-written report, you shouldn’t have a hard time being paid.

Bestmark works with multiple Fortune 500 companies, offering more than 10,000 mystery job assignments a month.  As they operate in all 50 states, as well as most of Canada, you can start the application process via the link below.

A Closer Look

A Closer Look works with a wide variety of industries, not just hotels.  It’s not the best option on this list in terms of hotel jobs, but they do pop up from time to time.

If you want to become a mystery shopper with A Closer Look, you will need to fill out the application via the link below and pass what’s known as the Shopper Qualifying Test.  In this test, you will be graded upon how well you read the pre-application information guidelines.

Aside from the test, you will also be required to write a short narrative describing your most recent dining experience.  This is done to demonstrate your ability to relate your experience in a clear/concise manner.

You must be 18+ years old, have a valid email address and be able to write in a clear, concise way with no spelling/grammatical mistakes.


I haven’t signed up with TNS yet, but I have found many other mystery shoppers who have and were quite pleased with the results.

The unique thing about TNS is that they work with multiple timeshare companies, meaning you will stay at some pretty popular resorts and get paid to attend and record a timeshare presentation.  In my research, you will not only get paid for your resort stay, but they will also throw in another $50 for the timeshare recording.  Plus, you get to keep all of the gifts the timeshares give you at the end.

You will have to pay your own way to the timeshare resort, but in some cases, they can reimburse you for some minor travel expenses.

  • Website:  TNS

Reality Based Group

Another company I have mentioned a few times on this site, the Reality Based Group offers a ton of “hospitality” mystery shopping opportunities.

To become a shopper on their platform, they ask for many of the same skills other mystery shopping companies ask for, such as the ability to be covert and create detailed reports within 24 hours.

Whether you’re experienced or even a novice, they encourage all to apply as they have an always available support staff to help you with any questions you may have.

RBG is an A+ BBB rated company with more than 280,000 mystery shoppers.

  • Website:  RBG

Data Quest

Data Quest offers multiple hotel mystery shopping opportunities, most with major hotel brands you have heard of.  Not only do they offer hotel mystery shopping job, but they also offer bar audits, dining audits and even ID audits, to name a few.  There are quite a few to choose from.

To apply, all they ask is that you follow the “mystery shopper signup list,” all of which you can find via the link below.

Shoppers Confidential Inc.

According to the official Shoppers Confidential Inc. website, they currently work with hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts as well as spas.

In working with them, you will help make reservations, manage bookings, check in/checkout as well as note the cleanliness when you visit.

Shoppers Confidential Inc. is a member of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) and has a solid A+ BBB rating.

Customer Impact

Yet another option that seems to offer a variety of hospitality mystery shopping options.

Form checking in to critiquing the housekeeping and room service, there are often jobs available.

To sign up as a shopper, you can do so via the link below via the Customer Impact GATEWAY System.


From judging the reservation process to the room condition, you will be asked to provide a detailed overview of your entire hotel experience, including taking pictures as well as audio in some situations.

The company was founded in 1999 and is still going strong today.

If you want to apply, you will have to fill out a fairly simple application, but they do ask that you provide a small writing sample from a previous shopping experience.

Sentry Marketing

In my free time, I often browse the very popular forum,  I highly recommend it if you want to learn all about the industry in general as there’s a ton of free advice/tips.

Anyways, I have seen this company advertise here, often posting multiple hotel mystery shopping gigs across the United States, so it may be one to check out.

To become a shopper, they ask that you have excellent observation and writing skills as well as consider yourself to be a reliable professional.

Final Thoughts

In the mystery shopping industry, there are a lot of companies that offer hotel mystery shopping gigs, many of which pay quite well.

If you want to make $25, $50 or even $100 for the night plus a free overnight stay, then these are the jobs to consider.  While I can’t say you won’t make a living solely doing hotel mystery shopping gigs, you could easily make $1,000+ doing mystery shopping jobs in general as there’s a lot of work out there.

Apply to as many companies as possible, keep checking in to see what jobs work for you, and when you do find one, just be sure to follow the directions closely to ensure you get compensated.  While the thought of a free hotel stay or even being paid to travel is appealing, you still need to work for it in a way.

Now, it’s your turn.

Have you ever completed a hotel mystery shop?  Do you know of any companies I’m missing?  Can you add more to what I already have?

As always, I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to sound off in the comments below.

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. You won't find gimmicks here. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I graduated from Arizona State University, and I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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