After I made a great update on StormChasingUSA.com last year I added validations of the reviews to make sure that the site would not get any fake reviews. Before I had this validation some angry letters from tour operators who claimed that competitors purposely wrote bad reviews of their company.
Almost everyone who writes a review now validates it which make the existing reviews quite trustable. A negative side effect of this, however, seems that there are hardly and negative or at least balanced reviews any longer. I would guess 95% of all the reviews on the site are a 5 out of 5-rating.
Now, I have been on four tours with four different tour operators (Cloud 9, PDS, Tempest and Extreme Chase Tours) and I have been quite satisfied with all and I could easily recommend each of them. I have felt secure, well catered and certain that each of the tour companies would find the storms if there were any. Still, my rating has been 4 out of 5 for each of them (and I have not considered the weather in my reviews). Basically, what I am trying to say is that many tour companies are great but there is still room for improvement.
I pictured many won’t dare to write a bad review since they just spent one week in close contact with the tour guide – who, most likely, was very friendly. Even though the general feeling may not have been a great one that person may not want to write a bad (or even neutral) review for social reasons. Another reason would be that the tour companies only remind their guests about writing reviews after a good tour.
So, for that reason I just implemented a “screen name” for each review so that one could write a review and remain anonymous on the site. I hope that this change will allow for more varied reviews and ratings.
The reviews won’t, however, be perfectly anonymous since they still need to be validated (against a receipt) or verified. If, and only if, a review is not validated an email is sent to the tour company with the “full name”, and tour date, so that they can verify that the person was a guest. This email does not contain the review or rating, however.
It is a tricky business trying to get the real truth out of the experiences guests have on each tour!