TripAdvisor targeting sexual assault with new feature


On Tuesday, TripAdvisor introduced a new feature to its website to aid in flagging sexual assault reports from users.

Based on news reports as well as comments from the TripAdvisor community, the warnings are also created to identify health and safety issue, said a company spokesman, Kevin Carter. "Accordingly, you may wish to perform additional research for information about this property when making your travel plans", the warnings read.

A TripAdvisor spokesman, Kevin Carter, said the badges were only temporary.

It has so far put the message, which it calls a "badge", on the pages for three resorts in Mexico.

TripAdvisor flagged Iberostar Paraíso Lindo, Iberostar Paraíso Maya and Velas Riviera Maya.

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.

On 1 November, the company issued a public apology to Kristie Love, 35, who said she had been raped by a security guard at the Paraiso Maya resort in Mexico.

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From now on TripAdvisor will place symbols next to hotels and resorts where violent incidents like assault and rape have been reported.

TripAdvisor, which takes up to 15 percent commission on booking, says that it changed its family-friendly forum policy three years ago and had apologized to Love. Iberostar Paraiso Maya, one of the resorts affected by this impoundment, was shut down completely; Abbey Conner, a 20-year-old woman from Wisconsin, drowned there while on vacation with her family in January.

TripAdvisor confirmed this month its willingness to publish travel reviews which include reports of crimes such as rape, robbery, theft or assault.

"These badges are meant to be informative, not punitive", he continued.

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. When nothing came of her complaint, she posted a warning on TripAdvisor, but it was promptly deleted.

"Hearsay" is the reason TripAdvisor gave dozens of travelers for not publishing their warnings of awful things that had happened to them or their loved ones at highly rated resorts in Mexico. "'No, we're not going to call the police, ma'am, '" she recalled in her conversation with the outlet. In 2015, another guest was sexually assaulted at the same hotel and her comments were also rejected because the company claimed that a line about her doctor's diagnosis constituted "hearsay" by a third party.