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HGEM Mystery Dining - far beyond a free meal

HGEM Mystery Dining - far beyond a free meal

HGEM Mystery Dining - far beyond a free meal

At HGEM, we know that what gets measured gets done and that mystery guests have a valuable role to play in ensuring consistent delivery of what the team have been trained to do. It's pretty simple really, but the motivation to be a mystery guest often gets misinterpreted as just an opportunity to get free stuff.

For our long-standing mystery guests, this could not be further from the truth. Yes, being reimbursed for lunch or an overnight stay is definitely a perk but not the main motivator for our mystery guests who work with us. Our mystery guests are passionate about hospitality, they care about giving honest and constructive feedback to our clients and they have a common goal – they want to make the industry better.

To illustrate this, we interviewed one of our long-standing mystery guests, Sharon, about what attracted her to be an HGEM mystery guest. Sharon comments, "I used to be a heavy user of TripAdvisor so was very active in giving feedback online before considering mystery dining. One thing that has always struck me is that some of the complaints on online review sites are so touchy and negative. I have always wanted to give a fair and balanced view of where I visit. Some reviews are just ridiculous, and this isn't fair on operators."

Sharon continues "Because of this, I wanted to review in a more structured capacity, so I knew that my reviews were getting taken seriously. Completing reports for HGEM has enabled me to do this and I haven't been on TripAdvisor since."

Sharon’s commitment to assessing food quality, customer service and venue atmosphere is crucial, but combined with her desire to provide balanced and fair feedback and stand up for operators who are unfairly given bad reviews, is what sets our mystery guests apart from the competition.

Our mystery visits are not about “feedback”, but objective assessments. In our reports, we encourage mystery guests to observe and detail what happened rather than provide their opinion. Opinions and other subjective feedback are reserved for online surveys and reviews.

It’s also important to note that being an HGEM mystery guest is not all 5* hotels and fine dining. We work with a wide variety of clients across a range of different sectors within the hospitality industry, and it fair to say some are more glamorous than others. But every client is important to us, and every visit requires the same level of commitment to ensure our clients receive the reliable and detailed assessments they need to improve and move forward. So, it’s important that all our mystery guests are as committed to assessing a quick service concept at lunch time, as they are about providing live feedback at Royal Ascot.

Sharon says "Some of my friends signed up to HGEM but didn't want to continue once they realised the work that was involved in completing assessments. For me, I get satisfaction in getting the reports done to a high standard within deadlines, knowing my feedback is either going to make a difference or get a team member some well-deserved praise or a bonus."

As Sharon confirms, being a mystery guest is undoubtedly rewarding; we do have some great clients which allow mystery guests to eat in lovely venues and stay in beautiful places, but it does require dedication and commitment.

Sharon has been with HGEM since November 2014. “I made a few mistakes on early reports, such as not explaining my answers fully. The feedback I got on my early assessments helped me to tailor my reports to an acceptable level and I found it very helpful”

In recognition of this hard work we incentivise our guests to complete visits by adding reward points to all our visits. The number of points added to a visit reflects the complexity or tight turnaround needed for a particular visit. Guests accumulate points and when they reach 1,000, we send them an experience day voucher for them to enjoy as a thank you.

As our mystery guests’ complete visits and gain experience, their status will change based on the quality of their reports. All guests start at bronze and then move to silver, gold and finally to platinum. We do this to keep our guests focussed on the purpose of their assessments, while at the same ensuring that we only send experienced mystery guests to complete visits where our clients have more complex needs.

Sharon comments “From a mystery guest perspective I like HGEM’s grading system as it ensures guests are never out of their depth during a visit, as only experienced guests get to do the more high-end visits.”

We hope we have helped to dispel some of the myths around being a mystery guest, and a big thank you to Sharon for her input. We will let Sharon finish with her advice for any of you thinking of becoming a mystery guest with HGEM.

“If, like me, you like the personal challenge of getting a high-quality report done within the required deadlines, do it and be prepared to put the work in. It’s really nice when someone has given you great service and you can feed that back to them.”

If you’re not already a mystery guest and would like to become one (or know anyone who would) please sign up today!

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