Saturday, January 1, 2011

Trip Advisor: Is it reliable?

by the Colca Specialist

Trip Advisor is a web site whose main goal is to offer information to travelers from all around the world.On the net, there are many travellers blogs who share their traveling experiences on them,but most of the travellers before making a decision they check the information of a web site like Trip Advisor.

Many visitors don´t trust much the travellers blogs because many comments and suggestions are relative. In the case of those web sites specialized in traveling, the comments and the suggestions are going to be done according to a specific criteria,mainly based on an analysis of the services provided by those travel agencies, tour guides, or hotels.

Of course, travellers blogs are gaining terrain specially in the last years because many of them are written by people who have experience in this field of tourism.

The other problem with travel agencies web sites is that “all of them are very good” on the net. Most of them exaggerate about the quality of their services and when the traveller comes to Arequipa and books for a tour to Colca Canyon realises of the real situation: many travel agencies are not good even though that they are recommended in Trip Advisor.

As a specialist in organized trips in Arequipa and Colca Canyon, I checked many different forums about trips in Colca Canyon and Arequipa. I checked Trip Advisor forum too and I discovered that many travel agencies are becoming members of Trip Advisor with a specific interest: to write wonderful comments about their services provided.

Comments of backpackers are not reliable too. Most of them are looking for discounts and discounts are offered if they write “good comments” about the services provided by the travel agency they are traveling with.

If you check the comments about trekking tours in Colca Canyon it is incredible to see the quantity of exaggerated comments about tour guides, travel agencies whose services don´t really deserve those comments!

Because of Informality in Arequipa, a law was published recently. It says that all tour guides have to be professional or specialists in their areas. Travel agencies have to be formal.

All guides that do the conventional tour to Colca Canyon are registered and professional, but in the case of trekking in Colca Canyon 90% of the guides are ilegal and informal. They don´t speak english fluently ,just a few do it and their knowledge about the area is very poor.

The authorities are taking measures now to solve this problem.

Going back to the point, we cannot trust on comments that say that the services provided were really great. If I pay for a tour guide it is because I want to be given information about the area I am visiting.But if the guide doesn´t speak english fluently what kind of tour I am going to have?

Most of the trekking tour guides in Colca Canyon are charismatic. If you ask questions about the origin of the Colca Canyon for example, they are going to smile because they are not going to be able to answer your question.

Many tourists are not happy with the tour they took, but because it was so cheap and the guide was so friendly they feel compromised and don´t complain, because they payed 100 soles or 30 US for a 2 day trekking tour in the Colca Canyon that includes hotel, transportation, tour guide, all meals included. What kind of service I am going to have for that price? The worst.

If you check travel agencies in Arequipa, they have very nice offices, but when you take the tour you can easily realize that the “tour guide” who is not professional is not making it good. Unemployment rate in Arequipa is 46% so you can imagine.Easy to realize.

That is why the tour guides and the bus drivers are so eager to take you to eat to specific restaurants in order to get “comissions” . Restaurants give them from 5 to 7 soles per person and that is not really honest. Travel agencies make it good. The most affected are the tourists who are cheated all time. This topic is very delicate in Colca Canyon and if you ask the locals about what they think about tour guides you will realize that they are very unpopular in Colca Canyon and Colca Valley because of their abusive commisions.

If you want to check if a travel agency is good, just check different travel guidebooks.
For example, just a few ones were awarded by the Ministery of tourism o Arequipa. If one is awarded by the major of Arequipa or by the major of Colca Canyon you have an ace in your hands! Those are the ones that don´t really need exaggerated comments in trip advisor forums because they are very well known in Arequipa.

In my case I love travellers blogs because they are more personal .I like Trip Advisor too but we have to be very careful with those exaggerated comments...Thank you for your kind attention and good luck...

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