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Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

Esko, Minnesota
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96 posts
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Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

My wife and I travel frequently, and we use TripAdvisor extensively for its vast reviews, forums, and user recommendations to help us plan our visits. Usually, the first part we visit is the ratings of tours and attractions. We are going to be visiting St. Petersburg this coming summer by cruise and have found tour reviews to be surprisingly few. We have read many good things about almost all the familiar names, on here and on the cruisecritic boards, but we are kind of confused abut the lack of reviews. We are seriously considering SPB-Tours and have been very pleased with the initial contact we have had with them so far, but can not find a single user review, other then forum testimonials. Does anyone else find the lack of reviews in St Pete and the prevalence of single post testimonials to be a concern? I guess I have to question the accuracy of the reviews of the tour operators when some appear to only have a single user review.

Springfield...
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247 posts
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1. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

You bring up a good point about the validity of single-post visitors holding forth on the merits of this or that hotel, guide, restaurant or whatever. I don't doubt that the majority are sincerely pleased with their experience and just want to share with others. But TripAdvisor is rife with "entrepreneurs" who see multi-posting as a business tool. Example: I was booking a flight/hotel package for Minneapolis and was checking out the Burnsville LivINN Suites. Cheap little hotel out in BF Egypt - but scads of people were talking about it as if it was the Taj Mahal. Same with the Fridley LivINN. Corporate shills or sincere tourists? Guess I'll find out this weekend.

I guess you just have to pay your money and take your chances. I've been this forum for going on five years and as best I can tell, all of the established tour services do a good job. It's just a matter of finding the one that best suits your needs. Fortunately, SPb is such an amazing city (been there five times in six years and can't wait to go back), even a merely adequate guide won't ruin it for you. Enjoy!

New York
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1 post
3 reviews
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2. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

I am trying to plan a one-day St. Petersburg tour for July 2010 as well, and I feel the same as you do about the lack of information out there on this company. So far, I have gotten quotes from Red October, DenRus, OPTIMA/Travel in Russia and SPB-Tours, but SPB is proving to be the least expensive. I suspect you are running into the same situation?

At the moment, I feel that my travel mates and I are leaning towards taking the chance and booking them regardless of the lack of information.

Not sure if you already saw this forum string by another TripAdvisor reviewer, but it helped me with the decision-making:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g298507-i707-k3378…

Here is another site with more info:

boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php…

Good luck on your search!

Esko, Minnesota
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96 posts
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3. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

We did in fact commit to a 2 day tour with SPB. I feel I did my due diligence with gathering as much information as I could find. That, and the confidence gained in the email contacts that I had with them offset any apprehension I may have had, by the lack of a formal "ranking" on the St. Petersburg Attractions listings.

Los Angeles...
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144 posts
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4. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

I don't know if my post is within guidelines of this forum, so please forgive me if it's not.

If you are looking for reviews on this and similar companies I suggest you check out the CruiseCritic.com forum. That site, is focused on cruises and you will find a lot more reviews about companies that market their services to cruise passengers.

Good luck. I did a similar research last year before our cruise. While we ended up choosing a different company, I read a lot positive reviews about SPB Tours.

Esko, Minnesota
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96 posts
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5. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

Thanks Zhenya. I do use Cruisecritic....a ton actually, but I do like TripAdvisor for its "rankings" of attractions within a given area. I just found it odd that some of the other "recognized" independant tour operators were ranked but SPB-Tours were not. While at the same time reading a substantial amount of very positive accounts of peoples experiences with SPB-Tours on CC. Is it is, I have committed to a tour of St. Petersburg with SPB and have no reservations. I guess my OP was more a question as to how a given firm ends up getting ranked while others do not.

St Petersburg Russia
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for St. Petersburg
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6. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

Did you ask what is being left out of your tour to make it lower cost?

I have never seen identical tours that were not very close in price from the main tour operators. That is because the majority of tour price is the fixed prices of entry tickets. The portion of the tour for which there is variability where one could discount is limited.

Same with cruise ships, since most are operating under the same corporate ownership they all have the same pricing structure and margins. If one is cheaper it is because it offers less than the next one.

We saw on this forum how one tour company was promoting a tow that was less than 2/3rds of the price of the other tour companies. When the poster posted the itinerary after being prodded to do so it clearly showed the other companies 1/3 more costly had 3 times as many included destinations and included lunches. So it seemed that that that particular tour that had a lower price tuned out to have a poor value compare to all the other companies.

A forum member sent two itineraries to me to rate last week. One was $25 less than the other so the visitor was leaning towards that one. It did not occur to him that the hidden costs in the cheaper one, when the added charges were added to make it complete totaled $65 more per person than the more expensive tour where everything was added into the price as all inclusive.

What hidden costs are you going to have to pay in cash during the tour?

Los Angeles...
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144 posts
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7. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

stanj, i beg to differ. while doing my research of independent tour companies in St. Petersburg last year I came across a variety of prices for identical tours. In each case I started with reviewing their offering but quickly provided them with a list of attractions that we wanted to see and asked for a quote.

- Our tour was private for 6 people instead of 40-50 that a cruise company puts in a bus.

- an offering identical to the one of our cruise line had was 25% cheaper

- we ended up going with a customized version which was still 10% cheaper, we had few extra places to visit, gold room at the hermitage, and additional 4 hours in the evening to explore the city.

Toronto, Canada
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197 posts
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8. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

O.K., I will write a review on my St. Petersburg tour right away. It will take a few days to pass muster with TA and be posted, as is standard.

I already did post a glowing review on my trip to St. Petersburg, and the company I used, on a post the other day (thread says "We LOVED St. Petersburg". I am not a one time poster, I've been posting reviews for years, all over the world. Just had never done a review on a particular tour company. This will change immediately, and thanks for the nudge to do so.

Stay tuned, Alex's Tours and Travel will have a detailed review in the next few days!

Esko, Minnesota
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96 posts
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9. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

Stanj....maybe I don't need to have 16 hours of activities in a 12 hour tour day to feel satisfied? Granted, a 2 day tour of St. Petersburg is agruably not enough to feel like you have been engrossed in the city, but 2 days can be made to feel like you have experienced the city. That is all I look for in a tour. "Help me feel what you feel makes a city special", but don't feel you need to turn me into a knowledgable resident in a short period of time. I truly believe that the tour I have selected will allow me to do that, and it is a little less expensive than a reasonably similar tour that DenRus emailed me about. The 2 day tour I have selected has me away from my ship, the Star Princess for 12 hours on the first day and about 10 hours the second day. I am paying about $275 each for my wife and I if 10 of us decide we are interested in the same tour. I am also paying about $250 each per day to be on the Star in the cabin catagory I have booked. Those 2 days, I am going to miss out on a number of the amenities, including meals, that I have paid for on the ship, so viewing a tour with an eye towards value is a focus that I was also tour shopping with. I hope that you are not implying that all tours that are lower in price than your DenRus tours are substandard?

Esko, Minnesota
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96 posts
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10. Re: Lack of a review for SPB-Tours

In hindsight, I wish I had chosen a different title for my post. What my intent was, was to try to gain an understanding of how some "attractions" or tour companies, end up with a ranking in Tripadvisor and some don't. And how is the ranking quantified? Of the 4 tour companies that do have a ranking of the 123 ranked attraction in St. Petersburg, some may have only 1 or 2 reviews. I really didn't intend on soliciting reviews of SPB-Tours as an operation, but rather the methods used by Tripadvisor in their rankings.