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GeoVisions Blog

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I'm Looking For A Great Volunteer Abroad Review Site

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Wed, Jul 25, 2012

thumbs up on online review sitesWe have weighed in countless times on this Blog about online reviews. What is so ironic about online reviews is that consumers read these reviews to find out more about organizations like GeoVisions. They look for more information like, are there more positive than negative comments? What do people say online about us or the experience they had abroad? What consumers shouldn't have to think about is, "Can I trust the review site itself?" Yet, it is a question few consumers ask.

When you go to a review site, be smart. Of course we want you to review your GeoVisions experience. And we have recently decided to include Rate My Study Abroad in our online review suite of review sites. We are adding to our online presence, not reducing it. It is imperative to us that people find honest reviews (good and bad) about their GeoVisions experience. But we don't think a consumer should have to worry about the site where they post the review. There are good ones and there are not-so-good ones.

If you only ask one question, ask where the site is located. Are there real people behind it? If GeoVisions didn't put up a physical address and a telephone number, would your trust go down? Of course it would. Where are we? How do you find us? Ask the same thing of the site where you post a review. Yelp's headquarters is in San Francisco. Craig's List? SFO. Angie's List is located in Indianapolis.

Here are four sites we just picked out who are interested in your review. Hopefully this information will be helpful to you.

GoOverseas will take your review. If you click their Contact button, you will see they are located in Berkeley, CA. And they have a telephone number, too. They belong to WYSE Travel Confederation and they are an accredited business of the BBB. If you find a program that interests you, you can see easily see if the program has any reviews or not. The "Ratings and Reviews" button is easy to spot and the "Rate This Program" button is also easy to see and to leave a review is very easy and straightforward.  These people return email quickly and are extremely patient.

Online review ratingsGoAbroad will also take your review, although they call it a testimonial. Find a program you like. OK…pick "Live With A Family In France And Teach Them English." When you click that link, you'll see a testimonial about GeoVisions over on the right side of the page. There is also a tab where you can see all of the testimonials about GeoVisions and of course a button that allows you to add your own review. Very easy. If you click the About Us button, you will see GoAbroad is located in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. GoAbroad is affiliated with the BBB and NAFSA.

Abroad Reviews will also happily take your review. If you click the Contact Us button, there is no address and no telephone number. You can send an email, but unless you do a reverse IP check, you won't know until you get a reply that it is coming from a server in New Zealand. If you click on About This Site, you will see a full page of "Legal" stuff most consumers simply will not read. They also exact a $500 fee from providers to be "verified." If you pay the $500 you can "contest" a review. If you don't pay the $500 you cannot contest any review. So far only 4 out of literally hundreds of organizations have been gullible enough to become verified on this site.

What is also very funny (to us anyway) is that when you click on the Verified Programs button and then click the "What's This?" link, you will see this text:

Scared that all you have to go on is a website you stumbled upon and emails from a person you don’t know based in country half way around the world??

Worried that as soon as you’ve paid your deposit you will never hear from them again??

The internet [sic] is a faceless world so we are doing what we can to help!

It is ironic to us that there is no phone and no address. So for all their bravado about a "faceless Internet" they are "trying to fix", they have yet to put any official face on their own site. On this site, unfortunately it is still a "faceless world."

Rate My Study Abroad also wants your review. And in a few months there will also be Rate My Volunteer Abroad and Rate My Teach Abroad and there could be a host of other "Rate My…" coming. Who knows? Powered by an association with GoAbroad (see above) this company captures programs and projects on GoAbroad and incorporates them on Rate My Study Abroad (as well as listing most colleges and universities own study abroad programs) and includes that big engine on GoAbroad with an amazing widget. Organizations and schools can add the RMSA widget to their own sites and program pages. We love that aspect of working with them.

holding up online review ratings cardsWhat makes this review site so powerful though is that organizations can couple a review with an evaluation. So the review is public and goes out to everyone on Rate My Study Abroad. The program evaluation is private and goes to the organization to improve their services and projects. This company is in Fort Collins, CO and returns emails and phone calls almost instantly.  They accept NO ADVERTISING and of course "paying for verification" is a no-no.  They are the only real independent review site out there at this time.

So here are four sites you can use to find out more about GeoVisions.

There is a new site coming that will incorporate reviews with fundraising for an overseas project.  That site, Volunteer Forever will be live soon.  This site looks to be a one-stop shop by having you create a profile, look at projects abroad and then fundraise to make your dream a reality.

We hope this information helps you evaluate the evaluations!  Happy reading and writing.

Topics: Program Reviews, Volunteering Abroad

Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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