1. The difference between a customer and a mystery shopper
Firstly, being a customer is more emotional than being a mystery shopper. One element of the particular trip would significantly elevate or lower customers' satisfaction. However, being a mystery shopper is more objective than being a customer. We, as mystery shoppers, evaluated and rated all aspects of a particular trip, which is something a normal customer would not do. More importantly, it is our responsibility to identify hidden criteria and underlying problems that normal customers would not aware of. Therefore, the combination of emotional journey and mystery shopping form puts subjectivity and objectivity together, providing a more accurate evaluation of the trip. For example, although some attractions may score low in bathroom, but this barely influences customers' overall experience. But mystery shoppers need to record the problem and give a score accordingly.
I found social media monitoring to be the most useful for businesses, and mystery shopping to be the most useful for us as evaluators. Service industry, at the end of the day, is all customer-driven. If a company cannot value their customers' opinions, it would soon be out of business. Admittedly, some customers will have very strange or extreme comments, but is is always important for a company (in our case, a restaurant, hotel or attraction) to take customers' concerns seriously and find ways to improve themselves. Mystery shopping form, on the other hand, gives evaluators the tool to write down all the criteria and build the foundation of quantifying the result. Although stats can be biased, we come up with up to 200 questions on a single form, thus minimize errors and biases.
3. Being eco-friendly in Costa Rica
Leaf and blue flag certification are touched upon in MCL manager's presentation. Hotel managers need to pay attention to a lot of details and spend considerable amount of money in order to obtain the certifications. However, as the MCL manager pointed out, being eco-friendly is very expensive and he didn't get many help from the local government. As for now, this is more of a competition among all the participating hotels. The underlying problem is more concerning - not all industries are on the same eco-friendly level. For example, waste treatment plant may still put all the trash together even though those trash were put into different bins. The infrastructure of the country is not ready to be completely green. The problem is the same in many countries, and the government needs to have better overall plan to speed up the whole process.