A woman arrives alone to stay at a hotel. She sits by the pool and later orders room service. The hotel staff assume she’s on holiday.
But in fact she’s undercover, secretly testing the hotel.
This particular hotel tester is on a secret mission in Gran Canaria, Spain. She works for a German travel company and is checking the Las Palmmas hotel’s standard of service.
“I can try everything here,” she says. But what sounds like going on holiday for a living is actually hard work. There’s a list of 2,500 questions that have to be addressed before she leaves the hotel.
It’s vital to maintain her anonymity to ensure she’s not given special treatment by the hotel staff. That’s also why she doesn’t want to be named in this article.
She looks at things like the staff’s level of helpfulness, the cleanliness in the rooms, and even small things like whether the toilet paper is folded neatly. She also checks to see if the playground is in the shade and assesses the quality of the food.
“At the start it was difficult to remember all the questions,” she says. After all she can’t bring the list with her to the pool so she has to memorise it.
Every day she checks a different part of the hotel and sometimes takes photos. “In big hotels, that can be a lot of work,” she explains. Then she writes a detailed report, including everything positive and negative she encountered.
In some hotels the tester does announce their visit in advance before checking if everything in the hotel corresponds to the advertising.
It may sounds like a pretty interesting job, but it’s a profession that could be on its way out. One hotel tester, Michael Bauer, says that there are fewer testers than before because reviews from ordinary guests have become more important.
Many guests now post reviews online, meaning the hotel management can see what customers say on sites like TripAdvisor, Booking.com or Google Maps and take steps to improve things.
You don’t need testers for that, Bauer says. “We are a dying breed.” – dpa/Sarah Thust