TripAdvisor labels hotels involved in sexual assault cases

Andrew Cummings
November 9, 2017

Users who browse hotel listings on TripAdvisor will notice a new digital badge, which the travel website will use to point out hotels where a sexual assault took place. The decision to add or remove the badge will fall on an employee committee.

There is a big possibility more will be added to the list as the company vets properties that appear in the news, said a TripAdvisor spokesperson.

Three resorts in the city of Playa del Carmen in Mexico now have the notification on their listing.

Based on news reports as well as comments from the TripAdvisor community, the warnings are created to identify health, safety and discrimination issues in all of the website's travel categories, said a company spokesman, Kevin Carter.

TripAdvisor, however, later restored the review and issued a public apology.

Shares of TripAdvisor Inc. plummeted more than 23 percent on Tuesday, which wiped out more than $1 billion in market value representing the the biggest single-day drop in the stock's history, according to Thomson Reuters.

The move comes after TripAdvisor apologized for removing comments in 2010 when a traveler posted a warning after she was assaulted at a resort in Mexico. Comments from users will continue to be posted on the site.

The company has also announced a new policy to explain to users why reviews or forum posts are deleted. 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.

"As with any product development in the Internet industry, there will always be continued iterations as we work to improve how we provide travel information to consumers", he added. "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.

A couple of years later, TripAdvisor changed that policy to enable users to post remarks about issues that included rape and sexual assault.

The Journal Sentinel reporting about TripAdvisor came at a time of a national conversation around sexual assault that was brought about by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo social media campaign. A search engine is available on TripAdvisor for customers to search a page's reviews, but keywords such as "rape" and "sexual assault" yield no results.

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