Coyle Evaluator Connection: Penny

This month we are spotlighting one of the best and most experienced evaluators! She has performed every type of evaluation that Coyle has to offer—telephone, restaurant, spa, hotel, and cruises. Get to know Penny and check out how she does it all!

Which types of evaluations do you prefer and why?
Cruises! I’ve done six cruises with Coyle and can’t wait until there are more available! Unlike hotel evaluations that have specific client objectives on each day, 95% of the cruise client objectives are not assigned to a specific date or time; therefore, it allows my guest and me to let the cruise experience unfold naturally.

My absolute favorite evaluation ever was a 12-night Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona. I took my mother on this cruise, and it was the first time she had ever been anywhere in Europe; it was a vacation memory of a lifetime for me to be able to share with my mother. I dragged her all over the ports of the Mediterranean, and we had an amazing trip together. Yes, the write up of the evaluation was a lot of work (10 pages of narrative per night on average), but the opportunity to experience this with my mother was worth every minute I spent typing.

Do you feel that Coyle’s clients offer diverse evaluations?
Yes! However, the evaluations all require a comfort level with what many would consider upscale places—fine dining, luxury hotels, and amazing cruises. As long as you are comfortable with putting out the upfront expenses, there are plenty of options for you through Coyle. I have completed evaluations all over the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo, and major European cities.

What do you feel differentiates Coyle from other quality assurance companies?
What Coyle offers is a much different level of experience. I have done hotel evaluations for other companies but find them to be lower quality hotels with a far less, thorough evaluation. Coyle provides the opportunity to truly give the client a complete picture of the guest experience. Yes, the Coyle reporting requirements and writing standards are significant (as I mentioned I average 10 pages of narrative per night of an overnight evaluation), but those standards are simply the “norm” for me now. I also like the ability to provide both objective and subjective feedback to the Coyle clients.

What is the strangest thing you have encountered while conducting an evaluation?
In Miami, I unknowingly sat in another guest’s pool chair, and the guest started yelling at me non-stop in Spanish. The staff had to intervene… At another hotel evaluation in Miami, the location I stayed at was a local hang-out for the rich and beautiful, and I got to see some famous people! It was a real trip!

What is your profession and what do you enjoy most about completing evaluations?
I work as a technical subject matter expert for a global technology company.  I manage new and existing client relationships. In this role, I travel out of the country on average twice per month and travel overall at least once a week. I also have my undergraduate degree in writing, so that helps A LOT with the Coyle narratives.

Through evaluations with Coyle clients, I’ve been able to travel the world and make lifetime memories with the people closest to me. I finally got to see Greece through Coyle. As an avid photographer, I climbed all over Santorini and took some of the most amazing photographs! In Rome, I got to enjoy a glass of wine at a little café while I spent another week on a cruise with my teenage daughter giving the client perspective from both an adult and teenager as we explored the Caribbean!

I’ve been able to accept and complete evaluations with Coyle that have allowed me to spend time at some beautiful hotel and resort properties and share those experiences with people who are important to me. Being able to take these “trips” and know that if I do my part, the trip will be at no cost to me is wonderful. I augment the travel budgets that Coyle provides with frequent flyer tickets so I have been able to travel and explore some of my favorite cities and places I’ve always wanted to see.

What steps do you take to help you prepare for a restaurant and hotel evaluations?
The first thing I do is review the client objectives to see what my budget is and what the specific requirements are. Next, I go to the restaurant website and look at the menu. Based on the menu, I then decide who to invite to join me. I have some people, for instance, who are my go-to guests for steakhouses and others who might enjoy a seafood restaurant. Also on the website I try to gauge the style of the restaurant, so I can determine how to blend in–dress code, casual, formal, hip?

I start the hotel preparation just like restaurant evaluations—review client objectives and go online to explore the property. The client website tells me all about the hotel and how my guest and I will need to dress/act to blend in. For instance, some of the hotels I have evaluated in Miami would qualify as places to “be seen” and others hotels in Miami are more casual, low key family hotels. It’s important to adopt the demeanor of the average guest to stay under the radar.

What are some helpful tips for new evaluators?

Tip 1—Read and re-read everything carefully, especially the sample narratives that are provided for you.  The Coyle narrative and writing style are more involved than any other company that I work with, but once you’ve done a couple, you will find that it becomes natural.

Tip 2—Work with the Coyle editors and take their feedback constructively.  You’ll quickly start to see scores of 18, 19 and 20’s—I started at 14 and didn’t always have high marks…

Tip 3—Prep your guest thoroughly, and make sure your guest understands that this is not a “free meal” or “free trip to Vegas” and that you didn’t win a prize to get this trip – you are working, and like any other job, there are things that you HAVE to fulfill. Your guest needs to understand that yes, you actually DO have to take those pictures of the room AGAIN, and NO, you cannot order a martini with dinner!

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