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Hospitality mystery shopping in the age of tech.

There are two common responses I get from hospitality business owner/operators when discussing mystery shopping with them:

1) I don’t need it. I’m in the venue all the time so I know exactly what’s going on

2) I trust my staff, I don’t need to spy on them

These are two perfectly understandable responses. Why? Because they reflect the general consensus of the limited role mystery shopping has played in the industry for decades.

But in todays world of tech, like many other industries, mystery shopping has the ability to take on an entirely new meaning and become so much more than simply a way to keep an eye on your business or spy on staff.

Although the methods of collecting data might not have changed too much, the framework surrounding it is entirely new and improved. From sourcing & qualifying mystery shoppers, right through to converting their raw data into actionable insights on each and every aspect of a business.

Of the available tech that is reinventing outdated industries, AI plays a key role in assisting how a mystery shopping business can operate more efficiently and scale more effectively. Gone are the days where each and every shopper application would require purely human review. Implementing AI systems that can monitor an applicant's spelling, grammar, and character input is a great initial filter and an effective way to automatically separate the serious, high-quality shoppers from the dreaded ‘I’m only in it for a free meal’ crowd.

A step further is sentiment analysis. Having a process that identifies the emotive language used in an application is an extremely effective method of determining how objective a mystery shopper is likely to be in the field (or restaurant!) And the same systems can be applied to active mystery shoppers who complete surveys. Minimising the human-review element allows a higher number of surveys to be processed but more importantly, boosts quality control and promotes consistency.

Still, the experience we’ve personally had in trying to transform an old industry segment has been met with some resistance. And understandably so. The mention of the word “app” to some in the industry can immediately shut down a conversation.

So what do restaurants, cafes, and other hospitality businesses stand to gain from this new-age mystery shopping and why should they listen?

Data will continue to play a critical role in the success of a hospitality business. But the data only tells part of the story. The combination of intelligent insights & metrics along with the objective human response, which can be easily accessed, understood, and actioned is where mystery shopping of today is leagues ahead of its outdated relative.

That said, for time-poor owner/operators, offering static reports with scores and some commentary although helpful, is simply not good enough by itself. Especially if there are real consequences to staff and internal processes. On the other hand, an overloaded dashboard within an online client portal can be just as useless.

We’ve found our clients, who are restaurant & cafe owners across Australia & Europe, benefit from being able to identify opportunities as well as problem areas in their early stages. They need to be able to see this information clearly and be able to action it immediately.

Most importantly, the ability to decide which part of their business they want to assess and how they want to assess it is crucial. Again, time-poor owner/operators have more important things to be doing than making survey adjustments via email or phone calls.

If you're an owner/operator, a specific example of how this industry upgrade can impact your business:

Let’s say in addition to measuring overall venue & staff performance you'd like to know if your social media channels are influencing your customers' ordering decisions, or what kind of impact your branding had on your customers? Maybe you want to see how well your actual service times of order taking and delivery stack up against your expectations over specific service periods... These kinds of custom, in-depth insights are now available at your fingertips.

The data can be collected and visualised in a way that allows you to make more accurate and informed business decisions - much faster.

Allow Me is a SaaS platform that lets you measure and manage each and every aspect of your hospitality business. If you would like to know more about how we’ve brought mystery shopping into the tech age and how your business can benefit, please get in touch.

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