TripAdvisor now flags reviews that allege sexual abuse took place at hotels

As part of a safety drive, it will now be easier to spot reviews that warn against crime
As part of a safety drive, it will now be easier to spot reviews that warn against crime Credit: istock

It is now easier for users of TripAdvisor to vet resorts where allegations of sexual assault have been made at their property.

The peer-to-peer review site has introduced two new safety features to streamline the search function: one which allows users to filter establishments where cases of sexual misconduct have been reported, and another 'alert' banner at the top of all reviews containing such accusations.

The company has long been under considerable pressure to improve the way it flags operators that have been subject to allegations, after several cases in recent years in which victims of crime complained that their reviews were 'buried' or even deleted.

The safety filter will enable users to search for reviews, in 28 languages, posted during the past year concerning sexual misconduct by employees of a listed business. Other categories include the reporting of death, drugging, sex trafficking, armed robbery, and physical assault.

Until now, locating these keywords involved scrolling through reviews and searching by eye.

How the new filters (top) and alert notifications (bottom) will now appear Credit: tripadvisor

"These solutions are just the start of our commitment to elevating safety information on TripAdvisor," said Lindsay Nelson, president of the platform's user experience department.

"Throughout the coming months we’ll be conducting extensive user research to understand what features will provide the most benefit to our global community; for example, whether a hotel has 24/7 security or the surrounding neighbourhood is walkable at night."

As before, business owners will be able to publicly reply to reviews left concerning their listing and to address and provide updates on any open cases.

TripAdvisor, which was first launched nearly 20 years ago and now boasts more than 456 million visitors a month, said that last year it had identified 1,100 reviews that included allegations of sexual assault.

One active petition on Change.org which calls for TripAdvisor to "take violence against women seriously" has so far gained more than half a million signatures.

"I’m just one of countless women who’ve been ignored or mistreated by TripAdvisor after reporting a sexual assault at a business on their site," writes the anonymous author, who claims she was raped by a tour guide with "stellar reviews on TripAdvisor".

Although she concedes that the company has bent to pressure and implemented some new safety measures - though hasn't commented on the latest developments - she feels it hasn't gone far enough.

"When I asked for help warning other tourists about my attacker, the company simply suggested I leave a review," she explains. "Not only was this solution woefully inadequate to warn other tourists – my one star review would quickly get lost among minor complaints about the guide – but it required me to relive the painful details of my assault and out myself publicly in a place where my assailant could likely find me."

Last year, the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, who was on her gap year in New Zealand, divided opinion on what it means to be a female traveller today. Writing for The Telegraph, Charlotte Lytton argued that her death proves that nowhere in the world is safe to be a woman. Hilary Bradt, on the other hand, said: "The greatest danger for travellers is road accidents – so why do we fear men?"

What's your view on TripAdvisor's new policy? Is it enough, or does more need to be done by travel platforms like this to warn tourists about safety concerns on their listings? Let us know in the comment box below.