Learning To Handle Good And Bad Feedback At Indiahikes

At Indiahikes it is common to see our Ground Coordinators constantly on the phone. They speak to Trek Leaders, slope staff, base camp managers, drivers, and of course trekkers. These calls don’t end on Saturday. They spill into a good part of Sunday and flow into the next workweek.

Almost always, you’ll hear them ask one common question, “How did the trek go?”

It has only been a month since I joined Indiahikes and I already know about how safe the treks are, how our health cards are loved, and how the food is delicious. I also know about tent zippers not being sturdy enough and the dining tent not being big enough. I haven’t been on a single trek but I know possibly everything that can be good or bad on a trek.

But why am I telling you all this?

Well, I think feedback is great! I myself give feedback to others; especially if the chicken is under-cooked at a restaurant or if my new dress material is worse than a polythene bag. I’m sure this resonates with most of you buying things every day.

So when I was asked to handle the reviews for Indiahikes, I was prepared to moderate them.

This is easy, I thought. I just had to pick up lines where Indiahikes was glorified and leave out the rest. After all, the feedback form clearly mentions that we will only pick out ‘parts of the response’. 

But what I heard next was something I was not prepared for.

My editor, Swathi Chatrapathy, asked me to put up the reviews on the website without editing them.

That made me uncomfortable. How were bad reviews going to help promote our treks?

“We don’t want to tamper with reviews – it defies the purpose of reviews. We’ll be as transparent as possible. We’ll put out reviews just the way they are,” she said.

I nodded and did what I was asked to do. I was surprised that Indiahikes was willing to risk losing business in a bid to be honest to its trekkers.

But what came over the next few days surprised me even more.

Acting on feedback

Day in and day out, I saw Ground Coordinators discussing feedback they received from each batch with Arjun Majumdar, our founder. Every single trekker’s feedback was analysed for any gaps at our end. Everything that could be fixed was immediately put into action while the murkier, more personal feedback was dealt with directly over the phone with the concerned trekker.

Further, over lunch, we would discuss nuances of the feedback more elaborately.

To this day, I find these lunch discussions fascinating. For a newbie in the world of trekking, I get most of my information right here during lunch time. It does help me blindly stomach the barely cooked rotis I make. I listen to tales of campsites, of explorations, the famous gulab jamuns… There are stories of how trekkers were evacuated, debates on whether the right steps were taken. Yes, BMI and BP are a part of the discussion too! It’s a mixed bag of conversations – sometimes humourous, sometimes serious, things that amuse us and concern us at the same time.  

Through these conversations, I’ve learnt that for an organisation to grow in the positive, feedback is important.

But going back and forth with trekkers over what they liked, disliked and would want to change is not easy. Especially for an organisation that takes tens of thousands of trekkers in a year, and has barely 15 full time working staff in the Bangalore office.

I was wondering how it was humanly possible to deal with people on a one-on-one basis.

But it didn’t take long for me to learn how they did it. No special power really. It’s plain concern.

I’ve learnt that Indiahikes is a close-knit community and a more close-knit office. Nobody works isolated from another. There is great emphasis laid on being considerate towards each other. We know (or at least try to know) each other a little more than what shows on the surface.

This is replicated in the way we deal with trekkers.

We aren’t just talking to our trekkers for the sake of it. Our Ground Coordinators don’t stress on fitness just because it is their job. They are genuinely concerned about how you fare on your trek. The content team does not simply write whatever comes to their mind unless it is credible information. Our cooks don’t make your meals without a certain concern about what you eat. Our trek leaders don’t just lead treks to take you from Point A to Point B.

Negative feedback is a hard pill to swallow

Additionally, there is a lot of learning in both giving and taking feedback. Giving feedback requires skill. But being a sport at taking feedback is one of the hardest things to learn. In my first month here at Indiahikes, I have learnt that we must be open to criticism.

I remember an email we received from Prathima, our Ground Coordinator, during my first week here. She had forwarded an email from a trekker who was a Russian. He had gone all out in complaining about Indians, their sense of time and how games conducted by our Trek Leaders were for children and not adults. His list of complaints was unending.

But what our founder, Arjun, had to say put an end to all the other staff members complaining about how ungrateful trekkers can be.

He wrote, “This trekker writes very candidly, which may not be to our liking. But what he writes is all significant and  worth noting.”

That completely changed my perspective of looking at feedback. I now look at feedback as a means of improving trekking and understanding how we are not all the same in terms of our expectations.

Which brings me back to my initial question – why am I telling you all this?

No special reason.

Just the next time you’re filling out our feedback form, remember that we don’t just ask you for it to put it up on our website for good reviews or for the sake asking for a feedback. Your words will never go overlooked. 

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10 thoughts on “Learning To Handle Good And Bad Feedback At Indiahikes

  1. Honesty will lead you to the success, Team India hikes you don’t even hide your bad reviews and if you don’t even edit many of them so i must say all the people around who have respect and love for honesty will be glad to be the part of your team .

    According to me bad reviews will always make you to fill that gap and that filling of loophole will make you climb high up in the market or the business .

    I wish you and your team lot of luck and success because you people are doing great job.


  2. People will look back more with a smiling face when you have already faced some criticism and you have worked out the best on its antidote. I have been trekking a few ones past year with IH and have found trekkers somehow have a completely unbelievable mindset at the time of trek completion. Most of them are really genuine when we speak with them, a trekker feedback to a fellow trekker, and at times there is an experience or a knowledge gap of a fellow trekker that is dealt ON the part of the trek leader and the trek management – a negative of its kind. However, these are instances when hearing an individual trekker makes more sense and I do believe IH has been doing it fairly well. IH Team has been doing awesomely great in all parts, that an observation as per my little time spend on the treks so far or online when I’m connected to your social forums. And I Roger Copy that when our Chief AM says so, “It’s worth noting”.


  3. Reviews should be uncensored …Instead it is to be consider areas for improvement…unrealistic demands should be equally dealt too to make understand purpose & objectives. ..IH working I have observed during my small interaction during Stoke Kangri expedition in 2014 & found completely run by professional ways by keeping trekkers interest paramount. ..although our expedition couldn’t take place due to some issues but I couldn’t press hard to understand those issues. .overall IH best destination for trekkers! !!

  4. I wish there was a like button at the end of this article. I am from Delhi and I am going on my first trek with Indiahikes in August. Having read and heard about the experiences of people with you guys, i feel super excited and eagerly looking forward to it !!

  5. Hi, I have just booked my trek with India Hikes.
    well, it is too early to write a feedback, even before the trek. I have chosen my trek with IH, simply based on the reviews I get to see on Facebook time to time. Yes, i was little apprehensive about me being a solo trekker initially, I was looking for women only trek group and I was checking feedback from others how safe to travel alone with IH, finally two of my ex-colleagues joined.
    Many years back when I did my trekking in Uttarakhand, there was no group like this to give a structured guidance to the trekkers, am happy that I got detailed information about all the treks from your website. Also, your green trail initiative is one of the reasons for choosing IH, the right approach to protect himalaya, and the environment in that region. I appreciate that!
    Good feedback is always heart warming but bad feedback is also equally important, especially for a start up, to improve and make a solid presence, also to gain more trust from the people.
    Hope we will have a wonderful experience during our trek 🙂
    wishing you all the best!

  6. I did Chadar Trek with IndiaHikes earlier and was positively surprised and impressed with the attention to details and especially the food. I am even more impressed now to have an insight into how transparently they value and treat customer feedback. My next hiking trips are going to with indiahikes only for sure.

  7. It’s awesome to receive positive and negative “feedforward ” . I personally feel Indiahikes is a mature organisation with a very positive and progressive outlook . So am confident they have the ability to discern facts from perspective and take action based on facts and the interest of the trekking community . Looking forward to more treks with Indiahikes

  8. Yesterday when I received URL of this article, I kind of read through it instantaneously. And then, I read it again, read between the lines.

    This piece is indeed result of watching the great affairs that IH ground members are engaged with, from close quarters. Then proximity got merged with newness of looking at things. Feedback is a great tool if used appropriately. Trust we netizens are no more the way we used to be a decade ago, when we used to fish only for good things (read, Trekking as a Service – TaaS). 😀

    I happened to meet with one of the old-day explorers and trek-lead earlier working with IH, in Bangalore, at a completely unexpected place. Even though he has moved on, he was still reminiscing his good ol’ days at IH, and at same time he was becoming someone who said many things that he believed could be done differently – and I was like, yea.. Iye know, some things take time.

    Coming back to this article, fantastic and fluid write up! While reading the section where you mentioned you guys discuss our BMIs and BPs at lunch, I kind of felt being seen-through, like a transparent iPhone or something.


    Uncooked rotis are any day superior over watery fish curry. Suggest you get a ginger cat on your work table. Great listeners they are.

  9. Well I think you people are not doing anything new…Even the tripadvisor n many others do publish the worst of the reviews. ..Bcoz until n unless u take a grasp of both sides of the coin, chances of improvisation become the least….So the more you get to know about the loopholes and shortcomings of ur arrangements and services, the better become the chances of avoiding their repetition n improving them wherever it is required and feasible