This post kicks off week 3 of the 4 part Side Hustle Secrets series. I’ll show you step-by-step how you can plan your next vacation with little out of pocket expense by getting paid to write evaluations of your vacation activities.
(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Check out the full disclosure policy here.)
Welcome back to my 4 part series on how to take a vacation for free (or almost free!) using mystery shopping.
In week 1 , we talked about how to save 50% on airfare. After publishing that post, I talked to a couple of buddies of mine who had no clue the program existed, so I’m hoping this info gets out to the masses ’cause we all know airfare can cost a pretty penny. (Will you do me a favor and share these posts? Please and thank you!)
Now that you’re all cozied up in your hotel room, you’re probably going to want to grab a bite to eat. After all, you’re going to need some fuel for all those fun activities you’ve got planned, right?
In this post, I’ll show you:
- How you can get paid to eat at restaurants
- Requirements involved with your meal
- Where to find mystery shopping companies that offer restaurant evaluations
How to get free meals with Mystery Shopping
There are literally hundreds of mystery shopping companies that work with various brands to recruit shoppers to evaluate an area of their business. Many restaurants want to make sure their properties are providing the same level of service across the board.
And that’s where mystery shoppers come into play.
Later on in this post, I’ll show you which mystery shopping companies to sign up with in order to find complimentary dining opportunities in exchange for a well-written evaluation of your dining experience.
Before I share the mystery shopping companies that commonly have dining evaluations, let’s go over what to expect.
First Things First…
Before we go any further, you must first be comfortable with the following.
If not, restaurant mystery shopping will likely be a waste of your time.
- Must have a credit card that you’re willing to use to pay for the meal until your reimbursement is processed. (Approx 2 weeks to 45 days, depending on the company)
- Must be able to observe and track details (you might be required to use a timer to record exact timing between ordering, meal delivery, etc)
- Should enjoy writing
- Must be able to follow directions
Does this sound like you?
If so, let’s proceed!
Typical Requirements of Your Meal
Requirements will vary based on each restaurant and the type of establishment. (Ex: Fine dining, casual dining, fast casual, etc.) Generally speaking, higher end restaurants require more details in their reports.
I just looked through the website of one of the mystery shopping companies I’ve worked with and looked at the requirements for a few of the evaluations.
Here’s a glimpse of a few of the requirements for restaurant evaluations I came across.
- Asian Street Food: Receipt and photo of your meal
- A Burger Bistro: Purchase a burger, side, and drink. Evaluate cleanliness of restroom
- High-End Gastropub: Order 1 alcoholic beverage and 2 entrees. Observe customer service and cash handling
These are just a few examples of requirements you might find, and they’ll all be spelled out for you before you apply or self-assign a shop. As you can see above, they’re all across the board.
This is rare, but certain meal evaluations may require exact timing of when a server approached your table, when your drinks and food were ordered, and when your food is delivered.
In these types of evaluations, I just use the standard timer on my Samsung Galaxy, which can be located in the same app as your alarm clock.
Payment varies depending on each mystery shopping company and their agreement with the restaurant. While some companies will reimburse you for the meal + drinks, other companies will provide reimbursement for the meal plus an additional payment for the evaluation.
Where to find mystery shopping companies that offer restaurant evaluations
Higher end dining:
Coyle offers top tier restaurant evaluations, but full disclosure: their evaluations are extremely detailed and your narrative must be well written. When I first started writing evaluations for Coyle, it took me almost 1.5 hours to write one evaluation. Make sure you read their sample reports to help make your evaluations easier to write.
- A Closer Look
Mid-to-upper tier restaurants.
iSS is one of my favorites sites due to their user-friendly interface. They also list a variety of shops from multiple mystery shopping companies so you’ll get more bang for your buck by visiting this one.
- Goodwin Hospitality
- Bare International
- Market Force
- Sentry Marketing
- Customer Impact
Stayed tuned for next week’s 4th and final installment of Side Hustle Secrets. (It’s a fun one!)
This post was proofread by Grammarly