Impressions from CXE3 - Annual conference MSPA North America 2016

Bildergebnis für el conquistador puerto rico

MSPA North America had chosen a paradise location for their annual conference… Fajardo on the wonderful island of Puerto Rico.

Attendants were rewarded with spectacular views in return for their long journeys. 

The conference was launched by the president of MSPA North America, Mr. Mike Mershimer, at the evening of the 19th of October with an overview of the state of the association.

Over the last months, our colleagues in North America have had a strong focus on increasing the awareness of the association which is going to be continued in 2017. Among different initiatives the Social Media activity was heavily increased and a so called Basic Membership for Independent Contractors (Mystery Shoppers) has been introduced. According to Mr. Mershimer the latter increased the number of shopper members in 2016 by 9,000, with now around 15,000 in total and “Mystery Shoppers are multiplying the awareness of MSPA”. In addition, the option to build strategic alliances with associations in the CX sector is currently in the first phase. At the same time the Shoppers’ Choice Award has been introduced, which gives shoppers the chance to vote for their favorite mystery shopping provider. 

The opening ended with a major announcement, before everybody was heading to the Dinner Party:

MSPA North America and MSPA Latin America will from now on bundle resources and use synergies. Both chapters are going to merge and will be called MSPA Americas

We do wish our colleagues all the best for the future of this vast and important region! And now… let’s get the party started J

The following two days were packed with workshops, great speeches and breakout sessions.

Highlights…Day 2 started with an interactive workshop “Charting the future”, moderated by Rich Bradley (Past President MSPA NA). Participants were divided into several groups and had 20 minutes to discuss a topic our industry/the association is currently facing. The outcomes per table were shared afterwards. Discussed topics included “How to engage Millennials in Mystery Shopping” (“No long info, questionnaires or briefings, just quick bites”/ “Use Video Guidelines”/”Recruit via Snapchat”) or “Which benefits should MSPA provide to increase the value of the membership (“Provide bigger MSPA shopper data base”/”Engage clients by means of separate events and specific memberships”/ “Establish a MSPA certified seal”).

Already during CXE2 2015 a collaboration with the University of St. Thomas has been introduced. Dr. James Heyman and Dr. Michael Porter are having a look onto our business from a science perspective and how science can contribute to a better mystery shopping. It is one thing to tell clients that a questionnaire is too long and that even very well trained shoppers cannot remember all the requested details exactly. But wouldn’t it be great to have scientific proof of that available for members to discuss with clients? Does it really make sense to always measure all phases of a consultation, or would it be a better approach to understand which components define the attitude towards an event and which ones can be neglected?  

Based on research with different target groups the result was that at maximum 20 questions/topics can be clearly remembered. A take-away to think about….


Research Session


The bravest ones in the group (which obviously did not include myself) went on a Kayak trip later that day. Always striving for the top position, MSPA reached a new record. Until that day the record for keeling over on a single tour was one time. One of our colleagues was able to do this four times. Congratulation to the anonymous record holder!

Exemplary Picture ;-)

On Friday, the Management team of the El Conquistador Resort gave insights into how customer experience is handled in the hospitality industry and the importance of mystery shopping results.

The team displayed very well how difficult it is for the management to get an objective picture of what going on as the staff always knows where they are currently heading to by means of a seamless communication line (“water, water” = “boss is coming”). Although they would not use mystery shopping on a broad scale with up to 4 tests per year, they do evaluate all reports as very helpful to improve the points of weaknesses. All reports are used anonymously (not names being reported!) and all shoppers stay incognito, which also give them the chance for repeat visits. Every single report has provided so far undetected points!
Management Team El Conquistador

It was great to see that members, board directors and founders from all regions were again represented at the event and sharing experiences and best practice approaches.

Presidents and Founders

Congratulations to MSPA North America on a successful event! We are already looking forward to the first conference of MSPA Americas in 2017!

Yvonne Kinzel
President of the MSPA EU Board & Vice President Operations - Europe – HS Brands International

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