Surprises are great – just not on the bill! (our mystery guest views)

The most amazing hotel, lodge, restaurant or spa experience can be ruined (beyond repair) by a nasty surprise on the bill (check) or account at check-out.

Those hidden costs

Guestwho, a mystery guest services company, has noticed a trend among hotels, lodges and spas to offer a great rate or special but then have a number of add-on costs.

There is no big issue with additional costs, but the problem comes when these are not clearly explained to the guest or patron and/or where the additional costs are not displayed prominently or at least in an accessible manner (such that a guest knows that if they want to make use of that service it will cost x amount of money).

In respect of services, amenities or facilities, the use of which would ordinarily be expected to be included in the fee, it is all the more important to ensure guests are aware that these carry an additional cost.

First and last impressions

It is said that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and while we at Guestwho firmly support this and the importance of making a great first impression, even if everything else at your hotel, lodge, restaurant or spa has been absolutely perfect and the guest has had the most amazing time, nothing can ruin that experience more than a nasty surprise on the bill for some cost that the guest had thought was included or a complimentary amenity.

The effect can be so damaging that even though the guest may not complain, their memory and recollection of their experience at your establishment will be forever tainted by the unwelcome expense, to such an extent that they may never return.

What is expected?

These are some items or services that guests would expect to be included in the room cost / treatment cost –

  • Hotels – use of hotel gym, swimming pool, tea & coffee service in room, hotel breakfast, in-room hotel amenities (toiletries), wifi;
  • Lodgesgame drives, non-alcoholic drinks, all meals (if your lodge advertises as “all inclusive”);
  • Spas – use of swimming pool, steam room, sauna, non-alcoholic drinks, light snacks and fruit.

We are not suggesting that you cannot charge for the use of these services or amenities, but rather that if you choose to charge for these, that you make this clear to your guests ¬†– preferably on your website, as well as at the time the guest makes a reservation¬†and again when they arrive at reception. Consider included a price list in guests’ rooms or readily available in the spa.

Mystery Guest Additional Expenses

Are there any other items that you (as a guest) would typically expect to be included?