TripAdvisor now identifies hotels where sexual assaults were reported

Needham-based TripAdvisor is taking new action to respond to concerns about sexual assault.

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. These badges are only temporary, however, and last for a three-month period.

"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", the warning reads.

The red banner across the top of the resorts' listings on TripAdvisor caution tourists that the establishments have been subjects in media reports and suggests travelers might want to do further research.

Kristie Love claims to have reported a rape on TripAdvisor's site in 2010 following her vacation at Iberostar Paraiso Maya, an all-inclusive resort in the coastal town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

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Last week, the company shared a statement that claimed the policy on "G-rated" language was changed a few years ago "to allow more descriptive reviews on the site about first-hand accounts of serious incidents like rape or assault", and that the site now features comments from many users describing "their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault, and rape". Two other women told the newspaper they too were raped or assaulted at a resort in Mexico.

Another guest at the same resort also claimed she "gave up" trying to post a review about a sexual assault there as Tripadvisor said her review contained information which wasn't firsthand. He also clarified that the "badges are meant to be informative, not punitive".

A TripAdvisor committee will be reviewing badges to determine if they need to be kept attached to a business beyond the initial three months. TripAdvisor refused to show the Journal Sentinel which posts it had deleted, the newspaper said.

And, he said, the company has "apologized to the victim for her experience".

TripAdvisor is also rolling out a new policy on communicating with users about why reviews or forum posts are rejected.

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The Journal Sentinel spoke with more than a dozen travelers who said TripAdvisor blocked their warning messages after they had traveled to Mexico.

"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 told the publication.

"There's potentially going to be more as we continue to vet properties that come up in the news", Hoyt said.

The company maintains that it does not take down reviews or forum posts because they mention sexual assault or rape.

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