5000 TripAdvisor Reviews

Phare, The Cambodian Circus just reached its 5000th review on TripAdvisor, so we wanted to take a moment to reflect on why this is important and how reviews from travelers have impacted our organization over the past three years.

Is 5000 a lot of reviews?

Yes! Let’s put this in perspective. In our category on TripAdvisor (Top Theatre & Concerts in Siem Reap, Cambodia), there are fifteen entries. The next most reviewed entry currently has 204 reviews compared to our 5000. The average number of reviews in our category per entry is currently less 100. In fact if you take the number of reviews written for every other entry in our category and add them all together, it wouldn’t total even half the number of reviews written about Phare, The Cambodian Circus.

Looking outside of our TripAdvisor category at other attractions and activities in Siem Reap as of today:

Angkor Wat, a temple complex that is the world’s largest religious monument, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and receives over two millions tourists per year, has 24,468 reviews. Angkor Thom, the former capital city of the Khmer Empire, built in the late 12th century and also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has 5,409 reviews.

Both Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom have been around since the 12th century. We’ve only been around since 2013.

Okay, so you have a lot of reviews. What’s the big deal?

Photo by Scott Sharick

Photo by Scott Sharick

As a young organization with limited resources to dedicate to marketing and promotions, we have had to be very strategic about how we reach out to tourists visiting Siem Reap. From the very beginning, we chose to use TripAdvisor and social media channels to engage with independent travellers online before, during and after their trips. We have grown by leaps and bounds over the past three years, and, according to Craig Dodge, Director of Marketing and Sales, “Reviews on TripAdvisor have been critical to our success. Travelers research options carefully before choosing hotels, restaurants and activities, so being well reviewed by a large number of people on one of the world’s most widely used travel review sites is important.”

Visitors to Cambodia come from around the globe. They stay in Siem Reap for an average of two nights and three days. They come primarily to see Angkor Wat and other temples within Angkor Park. They have very little time to dedicate to other attractions and activities, of which there are many. As a result, competition for tourist dollars is fierce.

There’s also the added challenge of explaining what our performances are. Craig says, “Every traveler has different expectations and ideas of what ‘circus’ means. Some think we have animals, some expect Cirque du Soleil, some think we perform outdoors, most don’t know what to expect and whether it will be fun or worthwhile. Us saying that it’s a great show carries less weight than 5000 travelers saying it’s a great show. And guest comments have often described the feeling and experience better than we ever could.”

How we use our TripAdvisor page

Eclipse by Michel Dvorak

We very proactively encourage all guests to review us on TripAdvisor. During the speech at the end of the performances, all guests are encouraged to share their experience on social media, including and specifically mentioning TripAdvisor. There are signs throughout the venue with a QR code to our TripAdvisor page inviting all guests to review.  Also throughout the venue are displays with business-card size invitations for all guests inviting review, again with a QR code to our page. There are generally between 200 and 350 guests each evening, all of whom hear and see the invitations to review us.

Says Craig, “I check our TripAdvisor listing every morning and occasionally check-in during the day. There averages three to five reviews daily, and since a response can take up to 24-hours to be published, I like to respond immediately. I share the comments with our artists, customer service staff and other departments as applicable to let them understand how our guests feel. It helps all of us understand what’s being well-received and what can use improvement.”

Positive and Negative Reviews

It’s always important to thank the reviewer for taking the time to share their experience, whether it was positive or constructive. The feedback is always valuable.

Sometimes a point in a positive review provides an opportunity to add more background information that can be interesting to the writer and future guests. Tips to future guests can be reinforced and expanded on to make their experience even better. Occasionally, there is factual information that needs to be corrected to prevent false expectations.

Craig adds, “For a constructive review, it’s essential to acknowledge that we didn’t meet the guest’s expectations and apologize. It’s equally important to take action to improve for future guests. The most challenging is when the issue was that the experience didn’t meet expectations set by the large number of exceptionally positive reviews. Many reviewers compare Phare to certain world-class circus organizations with much higher budgets and elaborate staging, but in fact they were responding to the energy, passion, determination, dedication and talent of the artists.”

98% of our reviews on TripAdvisor are ‘Excellent’ or ‘Above Average’. What are some of the best?

Craig: “The one that stands out the most for me because it captured my own personal feeling was “Seldom is helping people so much fun”. There is an amazing vibe and energy to Phare performances, and the organization is absolutely helping at-risk Cambodian youth to transform their lives through art. You leave with such a sense of euphoria and hopefulness about Cambodia’s future and maybe even of life itself. A common element in Phare performances is the strength of the human spirit in overcoming adversity that is absolutely inspirational.”

Thank you to everyone who has reviewed on on TripAdvisor over the past three years! We look forward to many more in the future.