I'm still semi-boycotting the "official" RS tour evaluations in favor of posting a more complete report using the old format on the forum (although this time I have a couple concrete suggestions I really want the front office to know about, so I'll actually submit those on the official eval).
C of "David and C"
1) most impt factors in choosing tour - Many RS "buddies" we'd met in the past had said that the Turkey tour was their favorite and at the time we booked, the political situation, though uncertain, seemed relatively stable
2) favorite "wow" moment - Without a doubt, the balloon ride over Cappadocia (which almost every buddy in the tour took) was the wow moment, but it's not included in the tour. However, our guide worked very, very hard to make sure that it happened despite difficulties with weather and booking when so many other tourists also wanted to book rides. As far as events included in the tour, I'd have to say the meeting with the imam was a "wow moment" because it was so informative. For my third choice, I'd pick the Istanbul spice market tasting and demonstration - we learned a lot and the staff in the store were very helpful in matching us to delicious treats.
3) hotels/meals/experiences - any especially good/bad - The hotels were all fine as places to stay. All but one had electric hotpots. My favorites were the cave "suite" in Cappadocia and one of the hotels toward the end of the tour that our guide said was a "business" hotel - we appreciated the latter because the internet connection was the most reliable and the tabletop space generous.
Tour meals were generally good to very good except for two dinners: 1) dinner at Albura Kathisma on the first night in Istanbul. The meat was tough and flavors uninspired. The Lycos River hotel dinner buffet reminded me of a bad Las Vegas buffet. But we recognize the difficulty of coming up with restaurants that can provide a busload of buddies good meals at the right times. With one exception, TripAdvisor gave us great recommendations for off-tour meals. Other experiences I really enjoyed: H. Sophia (obviously), the lunch with Mrs. Fahriye, the carpet lecture and shopping for a buddy gift in Korkuteli.
4) pace? any way to make use of your time more efficient? - Pace was surprisingly good. The advertising indicating many hours on the bus belies the clever way in which those hours are broken up. In addition, our guide worked very hard to rearrange events as needed to make the best use of our time given changing circumstances. I would have liked to have spent more time in the Anatolian Civilizations Museum and the Topkapi Palace and less at the Aspendos theater, but I didn't see a practical way to do so. The Attaturk Monument can really only be appreciated if you know a lot about the history of the time - maybe spend less time there and let the visit serve as something that will make tour members want to know more about the history.
5) could front ofc have done anything better -
For countries in which smoking is allowed in hotels, RS front office and guides should ask if you are particularly sensitive to cigarette smoke - in the same way that they ask if you have food allergies - so that people very sensitive to cigarette smoke don't end up in a room that has just been used by a smoking guest.
I think it would also be helpful to have maps of the big ancient Greco-Roman sites that show walking distance and times, the restrooms and if known in advance, the meeting points (the maps wouldn't need to be detailed or even printed - they could be posted with the schedule and tour members could take pictures). A lot of times at the big sites we weren't sure how long we had before we needed to head back to the meeting point.
6) did our advertising mislead u in any way - Advertising was fine. Tour scrapbooks by previous travelers, especially the 2018 3rd place winner, were also very helpful.