When I first started this website five years ago, I envisaged that its primary role would be to alerting travellers to important or interesting developments in Ethiopia between printed editions of the book, as well as being a forum for trip reports that might present different viewpoints to my own.
Recently, however, I find that website traffic has become dominated by recommendations for local guides and tour operators. Frankly, I am not sure to what extent this is being driven by a real need among travellers for recommendations of this sort, and to what extent it is being driven by guides and operators asking satisfied clients to post a recommendation. Either way, I am happy to roll with it within reason, even if it means about half the posts on the website are now recommendations for a specific guide or operator made by one client.
But I would ask anybody using this website to bear a couple of things in mind when they evaluate these guide recommendations:
1. I have no way of verifying the source of most recommendations. Many obviously come from genuine travellers, and I post them. Others are clearly bogus, and I delete them. But in some some cases, it is difficult to decide, and I feel I have no choice to give them the benefit of the doubt. What I will say is that when it comes to questionable posts, the email address supplied draws a blank on a facebook search with a regularity that is slightly surprising.
2. Even if a recommendation is genuine, it is based on just one clients experience. And even a lousy operator is likely to get it right some of the time. And if the operator does ask a client to post something here, it will most likely be a client that seems to be happy with their experience. Given the number of guide & operator recommendations I’ve been getting of late, it is quite surprising that I don’t ever seem to get any negative feedback!
Secondly, if you read this and you are planning to post a recommendation, it would help me greatly if you were to include some sort of detail I can use to verify it comes from a genuine traveller not a made-up email address – a link to your facebook page, or blog, or linkedin profile, or twitter account , or anything else you can think of. Of course, I will delete this information before I post your recommendation, but it will really help me sort the genuine recommendations from the bogus stuff. From now on, I will also make a note in any post where I have been able to verify the identity of the sender.