On her vacation, a woman was sexually assaulted by a tour guide. When “K” contacted TripAdvisor to let them know what happened, representatives for TripAdvisor told her to leave a bad review for the guide.
Emails sent to The Guardian show K telling TripAdvisor she had been raped by a tour guide whose business was being promoted on their website. She had already told police and the hotel where he worked.
TripAdvisor told K the only thing to do was for her to leave a first-person review of her sexual assault. Then, just to be extra “helpful,” TripAdvisor sent her five links of other examples of reviews detailing rapes and sexual assaults as “examples” for her to draw inspiration from.
TripAdvisor, which has never participated in the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 competition, refused to take the business off of their website for any type of internal review. When K expressed her fear of being contacted by her rapist or trolls if she posted a first-person review, TripAdvisor’s great advice was for her to create a burner account to leave the review.
TripAdvisor hasn’t published K’s review because it’s not first-person.
“I was in disbelief. Am I seriously being asked to recall the humiliating details of my own sexual assault? Was this global company pushing me to relive my trauma on their forum for everyone to see and comment, or worse of all for the perpetrator who is still out there, to respond to me, troll me?,” K told The Guardian. “It left me feeling shattered, hopeless and alone.”
TripAdvisor President & CEO Stephen Kaufer is at the helm of an executive leadership team that has eight men and two women. The company’s website, which is visited by 456 million people each month, has weakly attempted to deal with reviews of sexual assaults previously.
In November 2017, TripAdvisor claimed that it would add warnings to hotels where “health, discrimination and safety” problems were reported. But the warnings don’t include what the hotels were explicitly reported for. The warning flags are also temporary and typically only for three months.
TripAdvisor only decided to implement the warning policy after the company came under fire for deleting a review detailing a rape in a hotel in Mexico.
A 44-year-old Canadian woman, Christine, went public with The Guardian about her rape in a hotel in the Caribbean. Christine said that her 1-star first-person review was quickly buried by other reviews, since TripAdvisor’s platform is chronological.
Christine also objected that her 1-star review of a rape was with other 1-star reviews about “bed sheets.” After Christine posted her review, so many women contacted her about their experiences of assault and rape that she decided to go public.
“I’m not overstating it when I say it’s widespread,” Christine told The Guardian.
TripAdvisor’s response to the recent allegations: “Having a business listing on our platform isn’t an endorsement of that business. It would be a disservice to the public to remove these listings, and therefore withhold valuable information. Allowing a business to operate in the shadows, without having a transparent record of travelers’ experiences at that location, potentially puts travelers at risk.”
However, the business where K had been raped was being promoted on the TripAdvisor website, even after she reported the assault.
TripAdvisor claims they are simply an information-sharing website. Christine, a survivor, disagrees.
“TripAdvisor has a major platform and really they have a duty for public safety, because it is a big problem. I’m not overstating it when I say it’s widespread,” Christine told The Guardian.