TripAdvisor is now identifying hotels and resorts where sexual assault has been reported, after the travel reviewing company drew scorn for deleting posts from more than a dozen alleged victims. "Accordingly, you may wish to perform additional research for information about this property when making your travel plans", the badge reads.
When asked about the message's language, TripAdvisor spokesman Kevin Carter said the label is a first version of the badge, which the company considers consistent with other examples in the market. However, if the issues persist we may extend the duration of the badge.
Three hotels in Mexico were badged on Wednesday, after an expose by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed shocking allegations towards staff at the resorts. All are ranked in the top five best hotels in the area, and have received thousands of positive reviews.
The 35-year-old woman said TripAdvisor had initially refused to post a review in which she claimed she had been dragged into the bushes by a hotel security guard and raped while staying at a resort on the Mexican Riviera in 2010. Site officials said the policy changed to allow more descriptive reviews, including crime. Two other women told the newspaper they too were raped or assaulted at a resort in Mexico. "We will continue to post content of first-hand experiences and a simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews and forum posts from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences of sexual assault, rape, robbery, and theft". "These badges are meant to be informative, not punitive", he told the paper. When nothing came of her complaint, she posted a warning on TripAdvisor, but it was promptly deleted.
Along with this change, the company will also be working to let users know exactly which part of their review was flagged. The paper also spoke to one TripAdvisor user who said she reported being served tainted alcohol, but her review was deleted after being deemed "hearsay". "'No, we're not going to call the police ma'am, '" Love told CBS News.
Then, the next day, she saw a statement on LinkedIn from Steve Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor, saying the company was making improvements, was horrified at what had happened to Love and others and that travelers should be aware of the incidents. Reviews in the past have been rejected on grounds of hearsay, as they would sometimes cite the opinion of someone else or include a medical diagnosis.
They were added amid criticisms of the site for removing comments about alleged sexual assaults, blackouts and injury posted on TripAdvisor forums.