They rattle at doors, take pictures of waste bins, look out for dust in corners and check the food at the buffets: Every year, around 20 professional mystery checkers test 400 to 500 holiday resorts on behalf of TUI Deutschland. Their mission: Rating hotels based on checklists of up to 2,500 questions so as to enhance the quality of the experience for the guests. A particular focus is on holiday resorts in the big holiday destinations around the Mediterranean, above all in Turkey and Spain but also in the Cape Verde Islands, Egypt and long-haul destinations.
A mystery checker stays at the hotel for several days as an undercover guest and subsequently rates the hotel. Within TUI Group, these mystery checks are currently only offered by the German tour operator TUI Deutschland. Other markets such as the UK tend to check their preferred resorts through audits. The mystery checks are usually ordered from TUI by the hotel management or the hotel owner. Many hotels use them as a quality improvement tool. The costs charged by TUI Deutschland are comparable to those charged by external testers. The high quality delivered, not least thanks to the mystery checks, is reflected in customer satisfaction levels, with TUI’s own hotel brands, in particular, recording a high average score of 8.8 out of 10.
A mystery check covers all areas of a hotel: from reservation services and hotel rooms via the restaurants and housekeeping services all the way to the fitness offers or outdoor areas. After completing the mystery check, the mystery guest reveals himself and meets the hotel management for a first presentation of the findings. He subsequently prepares a comprehensive report with many photos, result diagrams and recommendations for action. “On the one hand, we highlight weaknesses and submit proposals for specific improvements to the hotelier. On the other hand, however, we also tell him where he already excels,” says Britta Fahl, Head of Quality Management at TUI Deutschland. She also points out that even small improvements may rapidly yield positive effects and also lead to economic payoffs: If a hotelier takes account of the practice-oriented, objective recommendations, he may gain a real competitive edge. It is not uncommon for hotels to benefit from higher customer ratings as a result.