In the pre-internet age, reviews were the preserve of printed publications and resident 'experts' in various fields - be it how good a new restaurant is, what movie you should go see at the weekend or what vacuume cleaner to buy. Today any one of us can easily review almost anything – so much so that in many instances we just couldn't be bothered. But in regard to services such as tours, and particularly free tours, reviews are vital.
Why review my guide?
Well there are a few very good reasons to take a moment to review your guide following a tour, even if you feel you have very little to say, every review is valuable to the guides, the tour providers and to you, the customer.
For Free Tour Companies
Genuine, honest feedback is essential and review facilities are your forum for sharing your opinion. Very often, tour organizers will not be able to actively monitor every tour guide's performance on a daily basis so reviews have become important indicators of the quality of the tour on a consistent level. If the vast majority of recent reviews are very good or excellent, and reviews are appearing fairly regularly, then it's a good marker of decent quality. Equally, 'average' and lesser ratings can often help tour providers concentrate on improving potentially negative aspects of their service. Even things which might seem trivial to you can be very influential in improving the tour experience - for example, a 'throw-away' comment like “...the tour guide was fantastic, even though we found it difficult to hear him at times, he was very funny, entertaining and very knowledgeable about the history of Dublin....” can inform tour providers that perhaps this guide needs some advice on choosing where to stand at particular stops along the tour route to minimize traffic noise, perhaps they need help learning to project their voice better, perhaps the tour groups should be slightly smaller to ensure the guide can be heard by everyone etc.
For Free Tour Guides
Likewise, by the same token, the guides themselves rely heavily on reviews for much the same reasons. Besides a nice ego-boost, positive reviews validate their tour style, service, character and, indeed, content. As the vast majority of free tour guides around the world tend to be freelance & self-employed young people, they tend to take their tours quiet personally, it is their tour, not simply some scripted tour on behalf of a traditional tour company. Their tours reflect their own character and style, knowledge and passion, so it's important for them to know that what they have to offer is worthy of praise and succeeds in satisfying, and surprising, the people who put their faith in them to deliver a fantastic, worthwhile tour experience. Of course, any dissatisfaction expressed via reviews allows the guides themselves to improve where they can and to be mindful of those potential negatives during their tour.
And for you, the customer
Some of the most influential information most people utilize when deciding on how to spend their precious time in a city, or which tour best suits them, is peer reviews.
Consulting reviews for certain services can be somewhat futile, particularly relating to the subjective, or matters of taste (such as books or the latest craft beer) but with tours it's pretty straight forward as to what constitutes a good or bad tour experience or guide so it is a valuable resource. You may have a limited time in a city, may have saved for many months to afford a trip away, might not get away again for some time so of course you should endeavor to get the most from your journey and reviews by fellow travelers assist that endeavor in no small way. And as you read this, there is someone somewhere reading the latest reviews for a tour in the city they're about to visit, perhaps where you've been and for a tour you've done – why not leave a review? it's good karma!
So, don't see expressing your opinion about a tour as a burden – it takes a mere moment. Don't see it simply as a forum to contribute to in the event of discontent - saying “I really enjoyed this tour” is equally as important for guides, tour organisers & travelers. And don't see it as something irrelevant – it matters, and we hope that we've shown you that. Happy travels.