The difference between a traveler review and a gripe, posted as a review, is: Has the reviewer been even-handed? Has there been an objective summary of the review, offering points of commendation as well as shortcomings, and suggestions either implied or stated for improvement? These suggestions,' frequently have an underlying policy of the Company at issue, and long-time travelers of Grand Circle/OAT are more likely to address these than those who do not have long term experience with the Company. Regardless, even still, long time customers can be prone to 'griping,' and we will dismiss their reviews accordingly, as we do all others. Where we see longevity, such as on these forums, we can draw those conclusions. Similarly, we also dismiss reviews which could have been written by Grand Circle's public relations department, where everything is perfect beyond belief. Surely, there must have been something on a trip which was less than perfect, even if one thought the trip great. Those reviews are also as lacking as those which are merely gripes, because neither gives a good honest review of a trip.
As we've said before, we've found some of the best reviews in INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL NEWS, even when they pertain to Grand Circle/OAT trips, which are written about with a somewhat regular degree of frequency. And those reviews are not especially written as critiques; they're written as trip descriptions, but they do provide the even-handed description that one wants in a review. We'd recommend a look. The magazine will send those who request it, a free copy.