A Fantastic Voyage – The Traveling Mystery Shopper
Many mystery shoppers find one of their favorite aspects of mystery shopping to be the variety of experiences it offers. Even if you regularly shop certain locations, the scenario and associates are always different, so anything can happen. For those who thrive on diversity, it’s a perfect job.
If you want to up the ante and add a bit more excitement to the experience, incorporate mystery shopping into your next trip or vacation. Not only do you get to shop unfamiliar shops and locations, the money you make will help offset your travel costs.
Road trip mystery shops are easier to plan than those involving public transportation such as planes, trains and busses. You have more control of your time when you drive, so it’s easier to schedule shop times. When you’re at the mercy of others, delays or cancellations could ruin your plans, so don’t schedule any shops within 8 hours of the planned arrival at your destination. Also, don’t forget to consider time zone changes as you schedule your shops.
Know the territory you’re shopping. For instance, scheduling several shops while you’re in Chicago might sound easy. But if you are unaware of the geographic size of Chicago, you’ll likely spend more on gas, cab fare, or even just time than is practical or profitable. Research the locations through an online map before you start scheduling assignments.
Unless you’re going to be in one location for an extended period of time, avoid scheduling shops that require follow-ups days later. Only shop supermarkets and liquor stores if you’re visiting friends or relatives; lugging around food and drink is a hassle. It’s best to stick with restaurant, bar, fast food, bakery and service assignments when traveling.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, use sensible planning. A good rule of thumb that keeps stress at a minimum is to double the time you think a task will take. For example, if you think it will take an hour to reach your shop and complete it, figure on two hours to allow for traffic delays, getting lost, parking challenges, etc. All these examples become serious considerations in uncharted territory. Don’t let your mystery shopping interfere with visiting with family and friends; their plans for your stay should always take precedence over yours. Of course, if you can make them part of a mystery shop at an eatery or bar, all the better.
Organization is Key
Traveling under any circumstances requires organization. There are plane tickets, itineraries, boarding passes, confirmations, souvenirs – your purse, backpack or briefcase is bound to be overflowing with important papers and keepsakes. When you add mystery shopping to your schedule, that paper jungle gets denser. Dedicate a separate wallet or carrying case for the receipts and other required shop documents to keep them secure while you travel and always keep them in your carry-on luggage; never transport them in checked luggage susceptible to loss, theft or damage. Carry several chargers in different bags so your cell phone is always ready to record notes or take required pictures for assignments. Be sure you have computer access to enter your reports on time and add your schedulers’ phone numbers to your directory for easy access in case problems arise.
Melding mystery shopping with traveling is fun as long as you wisely plan your course of action. Exploring new horizons and meeting the locals is also more fulfilling when you’re making money at the same time!