One of the women, whom The Guardian identified only as K, showed the news organization email exchanges with TripAdvisor in which she told the company that she had been raped by a tour guide. She said she had reported the sexual assault to the hotel and the police, and approached TripAdvisor in an effort to warn other travelers.
The website responded by recommending that she write a first-person review with details of the attack, she was quoted as saying in an article published Tuesday.
“I was in disbelief,” she said. “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? It left me feeling shattered, hopeless and alone.”
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, has long been under pressure for its handling of complaints of sexual assault and other violent crimes, and has refused to exclude businesses involved in accusations. The women who spoke to The Guardian contend the policy puts the public at risk.
K told The Guardian she wrote a review, but TripAdvisor has yet to publish it because she did not write it as a first-person account. K said she feared repercussions, perhaps from her attacker, if website readers were able to identify her.
A Canadian woman identified by The Guardian as Christine, 44, of Toronto, said she was raped at a Caribbean hotel when she was on vacation with her family. She said leaving a review on TripAdvisor would not serve to warn other travelers because the review would be buried as others were posted above it.
“They definitely should have a different kind of review system, for these types of incidences so they’re not buried in with everyone’s reviews about you know, the quality of the towels or the sheets,” Christine told The Guardian. “Especially if it’s a safety issue, particularly for women.”
TripAdvisor defended its policies in a statement published by Newsweek and other outlets.
TripAdvisor exists as an informational review platform for travelers to post their experiences, including incidents of traveler safety. 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.
TripAdvisor apologized in 2017 after reports that it was deleting negative reviews of hotels in Mexico that included details of rape, assault and injuries. At the time, TripAdvisor said it would add warning flags to hotels where “health, discrimination and safety” issues had been reported.