Customer feedback is important for any business. BookYourHunt.com, as you know, is not an outfitter, we’re an online marketplace where outfitters post their hunts, so that you can book them directly at no extra charge. And we take customer reviews very seriously: objective, meaningful reviews are important to help our clients make the right choice regarding their hunts. That’s why each hunter that books with us receives a prompt to review the experience.
We’ve accumulated literally thousands of reviews, for all kinds of operations from South Africa to Alaska and from Europe to Nepal, and I thought it might be interesting to have a look at what our clients say about the outfitters. I checked out one hundred meaningful reviews uploaded on BookYourHunt.com, started from the latest ones. By “meaningful” I mean those reviews where the hunters not only rated their outfitter but wrote a few words about them or added photographs.
For starters, I’ve looked at only one category: “What I Didn’t Like”. I thought that the replies to “What I liked” would be too monotonous – great guide, got my trophy, everything fine. The things that could possibly go wrong – that’s where it could get interesting. But it wasn’t quite what I expected to find. In fact, the most popular entry to “What I Didn’t Like” is…
Seriously, 35% of analyzed reviews simply leave this field empty, figuring out, perhaps, that their description of their hunt as good, great or excellent is enough. Another 33% felt compelled to clarify their position with the expressions like “Nothing”, “N/A”, “None”, “Absolutely nothing!” “There was nothing I didn’t like”, “Don’t have anything bad to say”, and things like that.
Are there people who are not satisfied, then? Well, yes. If you ever read a hundred reviews about a hundred hunts, and all of them are great to perfect, it’s a safe bet you are on a website that filters out negative responses. However, only two out of 100 responses were of a kind that would make me think twice about going to that outfitter:
– “Our outfitter stated that he had hundreds of square miles of property to hunt but in reality we had less than 300 acres available for us to hunt in the unit he licensed us to hunt. Our guide had just signed on with this outfitter and had no access to this outfitters properties.“
– “Overall experience and entertainment was poor. Game was great but the experience with the guides was awful.”
However, a bad review doesn’t necessarily mean the outfitter or guide should be written off. Negative bias in online reviews is a well-known phenomenon in customer satisfaction research: you get what you expect, you enjoy the service or product and move on; you hate what you got, you go and spill your disappointment out online. And yes, some reviewers do not appear to be totally objective in their criticism. Take, for example, this one:
– “Did well first half, result. Then suddenly whisk off too a small wood where we saw two roe, but no muntjac very disappointing, which I might had in places resembled a building site.”
Not sure what the reviewer meant about “construction site”, but enjoying the first half of the day, and seeing game (though not just the kind they wanted) on the second half… sure looks like the guide was doing a good job here. After all, it’s hunting, not shopping, you can’t expect to kill an animal every time you go out. Thankfully, most BookYourHunt.com reviewers realize that. As a matter of fact, you can often read things like:
– “I was not fortunate to get a deer but that is the nature of the sport. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the stalk and the whole experience immensely”
– “Even though we didn’t tag out, JT runs a very good outfit with excellent guides and dogs. Conditions just weren’t in our favor”.
– “Birds were scarce this season. Not the outfitters fault at all.”
– “I screwed up my opportunity at a bear. Not the outfitter’s fault!”
– “The weather made the boars go deep into the forests, but you can’t do anything about the weather.”
There are really things that are beyond an outfitter’s control – things that you should simply take into account, whether we’re talking about a hunting destination in general or some particular operator:
– “The only [thing] is probably the distance from the airports but honestly driving to the ranch let me see a lot of stuff and really I can’t consider it a negative”
– “Only about 25 hunters come to Nepal annually. There is quite a process for your outfitter to obtain your firearm permit. You may need to be patient for this to happen after your arrival. I went on a guided tour of Kathmandu consisting of temples, ancient cities and sights. It was very interesting and educational while waiting for my rifle permit. Have confidence that your outfitter will complete the process”
Some reviews may be taken as to-do lists for facility improvements. Note that the hunter has had a great time, and for someone who couldn’t care less for how many kinds of beer there is, the described venue would be excellent. More venison is a legit request, though:
– “While we all had a great time there are areas of improvements when comparing to my other trips to Africa. The facility could be better. A lot of furniture is worn and not comfortable, door handles were coming off and/or hard to close the door, and not much to look at or do between hunts on the grounds. It would be great to have lounge chairs outside for relaxing between hunts. A larger beverage selection would be a plus, only had one type of light beer, and two whiskies to choose from. I would also say the lunch menu could be upgraded, and I personally would like all meats to be local game. It is easy for me to have beef, pork and chicken at home, but I can only get African wild game in Africa.”
A small group of complaints are simply personal, and have nothing to do with either the hunt or the people organizing it – nothing to add here except “I feel your pain, pal!”:
– “The second flight was an extra cost and pain especially since I’m traveling with guns, kids and during COVID. But hey they served free beer at 10:00am on the flight so that helps kill the pain.”
– “Three nights with two days of real hunting is a bit tight for three animals, but that’s all my schedule could accommodate. When I go back, I’d definitely try for four or five solid days.”
The absolute majority of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and many “What I Didn’t Like” comments are actually compliments in disguise. For example, some hunters complained about food. But did they complain they were underfed or tortured with inedible crap? Nope, quite the opposite:
– “Too much food”
– “Too much fine food!!!”
– “I ate too much and gained some weight, I will have to work off the weight for my [next] trip!”
And, of course, one of the biggest factors of disappointment is the sad fact that everything has to end at some point, including your hunt:
– “That we didn’t have more time”
– “I hate leaving Wyoming and having to go back to NY…but we will be back!”
Some reviewers are so happy they make their “What I Didn’t Like” section sound like “What I Liked” section:
– “I was completely satisfied!”
– “Not a thing to dislike. They got me 2 big game animals. The whole ranch is gorgeous. Could glass all day. Big bodied animals everywhere. I’ve never seen so many in my life. Thanks again.”
My personal favorite “What I Didn’t Like” comment is: “My son got the bigger Javelina! 😁”
Even without the smiley, everyone would know you don’t mean it seriously, Brandon! What can be dearer to a parent’s heart to see your child not just getting it done, but doing it better than you? And it speaks for the experience and abilities of the guide, too!
So, back to the original question – do we need to dig into all this negativity? You bet we do! And all in all, in an industry where nothing is guaranteed, the stats show your chances to have a great hunt stand at 98% or better, if you book your hunt on BookYourHunt.com!