Tripadvisor to mark hotels where sexual assaults have been reported

Media Center | Press Releases - TripAdvisor

One of the women who had posted that she was sexually assaulted at a Mexican resort on travel website TripAdvisor said Saturday that the company had not issued an apology to her for deleting her posts, despite the website's claims.

The badges will remain on the site for three months but will be kept up if "issues persist". These badges are meant to be informative, not punitive.

The decision to add or remove a badge will be made by a TripAdvisor employee committee, the company said.

This is a temporary measure, following a backlash the company received when it was accused of repeatedly removing a review in which a woman stated she was raped at a hotel. "We want consumers to see good and bad reviews of businesses".

But Love soon commented on Kaufer's post that no one from the company had actually contacted her. The comments made by Love were reportedly deleted because they violated the site's former policy of allowing only "family-friendly" language on the site.

TripAdvisor is also rolling out a new policy on communicating with users about why reviews or forum posts are rejected. According to the report, "more than a dozen travelers from across the country have said TripAdvisor muzzled their first-hand stories of blackouts, rapes, and other ways they were injured while vacationing in Mexico". "Many of these incidents occur at night or during the early morning hours, in hotel rooms, or on deserted beaches, or through drugging of drinks".

The feature comes as the national conversation on sexual assault has expanded in the wake of allegations against high profile men, including movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey.

In addition to launching warning badges, TripAdvisor also tweaked its confusing "hearsay" policy.

The Journal Sentinel found that an untold number of "trusted community members" have the ability to remove forum posts and that "destination experts" - members who provide advice on travel spots - can be local tour guides, property owners and have other financial interests in attracting tourists.

The health, safety and discrimination badge is the third that TripAdvisor is using to mark businesses with potential concerns.

The message appears in a big red box at the top of the review page, indicating a warning, but a traveler would not necessarily know the label refers to "events" as serious as alleged rape, sexual assault, injuries, health concerns or discrimination issues.

TripAdvisor, a Massachusetts-based company founded by Kaufer in 2000, claims to have 390 million average unique monthly visitors and over 535 million reviews and opinions.

Harteveldt said he believes that TripAdvisor should link to government warnings as well.

"I think that travel websites have a responsibility to be an advocate for their customers", Harteveldt adds.

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