Has TripAdvisor been putting tourists at risk for its gain?
TripAdvisor, arguably the world's most trusted online travel guide, recently tweeted an apology for withholding from users several unsavory but important reviews over the years. The $1.5 billion company has lately been under public scanner for misleading users by giving stellar ratings to high-risk hotels, and not letting travellers share negative stories on its website, raising questions on the authenticity of its operations.
TripAdvisor receives flak for deleting unfavorable user reviews; tweets apology
TripAdvisor repeatedly filtered a review detailing rape in Mexico resort
In 2010, TripAdvisor repeatedly deleted a review posted by Kristie Love, a 35-year-old Dallas woman, who wrote about her rape by a security guard at Mexico's plush, highly rated Iberostar resort and how nothing was done to help her. Wanting to inform others, Kristie kept reposting her ordeal every time TripAdvisor deleted it. After several attempts, the website finally blocked her IP address.
TripAdvisor republished user's original post, seven years after the incident
After receiving backlash for its malpractices, TripAdvisor finally republished Kristie's original post last month, seven years after the incident. Though the website says "it's the kind of information it absolutely wants published," Kristie's post has been put in the chronological spot, over 2,600 pages deep, hidden behind thousands of recent threads. Also, her thread is closed, which means no new comments can be added.
Other instances of sexual assault that could have been prevented
Two more rapes have been reported at the same resort since Kristie's episode. In 2011, a 19-year-old was raped by a security guard in the bathroom. In 2015, another woman, Jamie Valeri, a 34-year-old from Wisconsin, was sexually assaulted after being drugged in broad daylight. These instances could have been prevented, had Kristie's post not been deleted and the word had gone out.
Contact local authorities rather than use a review platform: TripAdvisor
There are several other instances of TripAdvisor not letting its users know of the probable dangers associated with certain places. When probed by the Journal Sentinel about it, a company spokesperson reportedly said, "It's important that anyone who suspects foul play or illegal activity contact the local authorities rather than use a review platform as their primary way to share their experience."
It's impossible to ascertain the information withheld by TripAdvisor
Massachusetts-based TripAdvisor started in 2000 as a small, travel assistance website. Today it has portals in 28 languages, over 535 million user reviews of tourist attractions worldwide, and more than 290 new contributions every minute. However, the company's policies make it impossible for anyone to fully evaluate the information on its site. There's no way of knowing what and how much TripAdvisor withholds.