Review website TripAdvisor has announced that it is adding a badge to hotels where sexual assaults have been alleged, according to multiple news reports. The move comes amid some controversy for the site after several tourists have gone to the media alleging sexual assaults that they reported on pages for resorts on the site were removed.
Kristie Love, a 35-year-old mother from Dallas, has become the face of the TripAdvisor controversy after she said that she repeatedly tried to post on TripAdvisor about being raped by a security guard at an all-inclusive Mexican resort in 2010, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She said that staff of the hotel, owned by the Spanish chain Iberostar, swept her allegations under the rug despite promising to do otherwise.
Once she got back to the United States, she said that she wanted to do what she could to warn other tourists about the Iberostar Paraiso near Playa del Carmen — so she went to TripAdvisor. She said the site continued to remove her comments, labeling them as not “family-friendly” or “off-topic.”
TripAdvisor says it will label hotels where sexual assaults have been reported
In 2011, a 19-year-old reported that she was raped by a security guard at the same hotel, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In 2015, a Wisconsin mother of six said that she was raped there as well.
Jamie Valeri said that if Love’s review had been left on the site, “Maybe we wouldn’t have gone or maybe that wouldn’t have happened to me,” she told the Sentinel.
The brouhaha raises issues about the liability that review websites have in warning its users about potential risks or harm. Do companies that make their money off traveler advice have a responsibility — ethically and legally — to report the negative experiences that happen at businesses?
The website’s posting policy states that it will flag all comments that it labels as “hearsay or “second-hand,” meaning that it was not experienced by the commenter. “No second-hand information or hearsay (unverified information, rumors, or quotations from other sources or the reported opinions/experience of others),” the site says.
The allegations made by the women appear to all be first-hand accounts and not in violation of the company’s commenting policy. TripAdvisor’s response has been to create the badge system, which is designed to be posted on hotel webpages only temporarily.
“These badges will remain on TripAdvisor for up to 3 months; however, if the issues persist, we may extend the duration of the badge. These badges are intended to be informative, not punitive,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told CBS.
Money expert Clark Howard says TripAdvisor, a $1.5 billion company, needs to tread lightly if it wants to remain a trusted site.
“TripAdvisor, I’ve got my eye on you,” he says. “Don’t mess it up. You’ve got a good thing going with people who trust your posts and reviews. You start playing dirty pool with the people who trust you, if you break trust, it’s very hard to restore it.”
What has rekindled anger in Love, the mother from Dallas, is a recent LinkedIn post from TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer, who said that the company is working to fix its problems and had “apologized to the victim for her experience,” according to USA Today.
The newspaper says that Love commented on Kaufer’s post, saying ‘WHAT APOLOGY?” She said, “I’ve yet to hear a word from TripAdvisor, and certainly not an apology!”
“Not receiving a single phone call or email from your company, my immediate thought was ‘hearsay,’ ” she wrote. “It was then brought to my attention this so called ‘apology’ was in the form of a Press Release dated Nov 1, 2017.”
Three hotels in Mexico were badged on Wednesday, the spokesman told CBS.
The one visited by Love has a banner on top of the listing that says this: ” TripAdvisor has been made aware of recent media reports or events concerning this property which may not be reflected in reviews found on this listing. Accordingly, you may wish to perform additional research for information about this property when making your travel plans.”