Responding to what one travel expert categorized as "a wake-up call", TripAdvisor has begun placing symbols next to hotels and resorts that have been identified as locations of sexual assault and other major concerns.
According to The New York Times, the warnings have been placed on venues in all of the travel categories on TripAdvisor: hotels, resorts, restaurants, airlines, etc. "Accordingly, you may wish to perform additional research for information about this property when making your travel plans".
"TripAdvisor said the three were the first to be 'badged" but not likely the last.
It has so far put the message, which it calls a "badge", on the pages for three resorts in Mexico. "However, if the issues persist we may extend the duration of the badge", says Kevin Carter, a spokesperson for the company.
This change appears to be a direct response to an earlier report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which a traveler claimed the site refused to allow her to post about a rape she claims occurred in 2010 at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya on the Mexican Riviera in 2010. The report noted that "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". "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". "As always, we encourage consumers to do additional research outside of TripAdvisor". "These badges are meant to be informative, not punitive", he told the paper.
The icon can be used on any properties or businesses reviewed on TripAdvisor, the company said. The forum post has since been republished by TripAdvisor.
The company said it is also revising the way it informs consumers that their reviews and forum posts were deleted for containing hearsay.
And, he said, the company has "apologized to the victim for her experience". "Our new email communications will clearly articulate the phrase or sentences that are in violation of our policy, inviting the reviewer to make edits and resubmit their review", Carter said. "'No, we're not going to call the police, ma'am, '" she recalled in her conversation with the outlet. Another guest tried to post a review about an alleged 2015 assault but she was unable to provide her account because the company said portions of her comments depended on a third-party medical diagnosis-qualifying them as "hearsay".