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Interesting article: "Trip Advisor removed warnings.."

The Milwaukee Sentinel has written this article.

Trip Advisor removed warnings

I look at a lot of reviews when I consider hotels, restaurants, etc, but especially hotels. I always look at the "poor" reviews to weigh the reviewer's faults against my own standards. If they say "The coffee at breakfast was cold" that's one thing, and "the hotel is located over a bangin' disco", well that's another. But this article really opened my eyes. Worth a read.

Posted by
3304 posts

The takeaway from this article is that if you want to know about the safety of a resort, google the name of it (or the resort town) to learn about crime and safety; TripAdvisor is afraid to tell you. The article focuses on a place called Riviera Maya in Mexico so when I googled it, I came up with a slew of articles describing the violent criminal element there.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/08/02/cancun-playa-del-carmen-tulum-violent-crime-encroaching/527247001/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/02/cancun-crime-wave-threatens-tourist-mecca.html

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article169187707.html

So who is Trip Advisor kidding when they delete safety advice? In fact, this censorship tarnishes their own reputation as a resource for honest trip reporting.

Posted by
11613 posts

It's not just censorship, which is bad enough unless the post is really false or abusive; doesn't Tripadvisor also serve as a booking site? Conflict of interest? Profits over people?

Posted by
408 posts

Wow thank you so much for posting. I have been a big TA fan but after reading this not sure I will use their site again.
I had no idea about these concerns in Mexico. Hope this gets more press.

Posted by
8412 posts

Trip Advisor has become a pay to be listed website, in other words nothing more than a third party booking site. It's no longer reliable at all. We always had to wade through the false reviews, but now it's just a booking agency.

I learned this last summer in the Chesapeake Bay area, where some family owned businesses, a wonderful private tour and a bed and breakfast in two separate towns, both said they couldn't pay the money needed to be included in TA listings.

In fact, that explained to me why Trip Advisor only listed motels thirty miles from the town where we stayed in a B&B. It was as if no accommodations existed in this town though I had seen a Road Scholar group staying in this town. If a specific hotel is named, it will show, however.

So TA is removing more than warnings. According to the article, three women were raped at the same hotel by a security guard over the course of several years, starting in 2010.. Three came forward; there could be more. TA removed their posts, deeming them not family friendly. It took an investgative reporter to dig this up. Nowadays we’re aware of the State Department advisories, but this goes back seven years.

Posted by
2526 posts

A very worthwhile read and it explains the economic connection between hotels, restaurants, attrractions, etc., and Trip Advisor. The incentive for only positive reviews and how Trip Advisor quashes first hand critical postings and the hidden extent of such is more than concerning. Caveat emptor as to Trip Advisor!

Posted by
2534 posts

Trip Advisor used to be a great Travel tool when I first started using it nearly 14 years ago I have over 22,000 posts on their forums. I used to have over 1000 reviews and numerous photos but removed the lot because TA has just become a money grabbing useless front for many dodgy third party booking sites. The reviews are linked to the booking site Viator wholly owned by TA .They also charge up to 25% commission on all bookings through Viator.
they also own many apartment booking sites under names like Holiday Lettings and charge huge fees to those that book through them and also to the owners who have their properties listed on the sites.
The Forum have now become a place for moaning uninformed so called travellers who have no idea what real travelling is like.
I still use the TA forums but have found I am posting less and less and also find that the information I want can easily be sourced elsewhere from TA.
TA are a joke these days.

Posted by
6649 posts

sooner or later all good things get ruined by success.

Posted by
1104 posts

I generally use tripadvisor now for one thing: photos. I can get a good look at the photos taken at hotels by people who have stayed there: the breakfast room, the size of the rooms, etc., taken not by a professional photographer, but by folks who have actually stayed in those rooms. In a few cases, the photos have helped me choose between two hotels. Then I go to the hotel's own website, or to booking dot com, to make the actual booking.

Posted by
13524 posts

I've never had the desire to join that one but I do reference the traveler-posted photos of accommodations sometimes. It can be helpful to see what they look like aside from meticulously staged shots provided by accommodations themselves. I'd never consider booking anything through that site, and find their alliance with Viator frankly annoying.

Identifying and discarding the fakes hasn't been an issue for me - you have to do that on virtually every travel forum - and IMHO one should never rely on a single resource anyway. It has worked best me to cross-check information on multiple sites. Checking a poster's history can be helpful too? Some of them have unrealistic expectations or, as Unclegus put it, are "just moaning uninformed so called travellers" who didn't do their homework.

News about 'bad' alcohol produced under unregulated, "poor manufacturing practices" in Mexico has seen quite a lot of press this year as have some updated cautions regarding violent crime.

http://www.businessinsider.com/tainted-alcohol-mexico

https://www.cntraveler.com/story/mexico-travel-warning-what-the-update-means-for-travelers

None of that has a thing to do with TA, of course, and of all the people I know personally who vacation regularly in Mexico, none of them have met with unfortunate circumstances. 🤞

Posted by
8412 posts

I don’t think a lot of you responding have read the article. It’s much more serious and complicated than the bad alcohol the State Department has warned about. Or, even listings and photos. I, too, wrote my first response above before reading it, and have redacted slightly.

It’s much more complicated, serious, and ethically questionable. At least three women were raped at the same hotel over the course of seven years by a guard. Three we know about. TA deemed their reviews not family friendly. It’s a horrible situation but could be argued from many perspectves in an ethics class for hours and hours.

This not an interesting article; it’s horrifying and any one of us females could have been a victim, no matter how careful.

Posted by
527 posts

What was also interesting in the article was, when TA was forced to print the posting from the rape 7 years ago, they put it in as of the original date. Buried 2000 reviews back....
I am totally done with TA.

Posted by
21087 posts

Yes, it is a grotesque way to run a business. Really shameful.

Posted by
315 posts

I support TripAdvisor could have immediately removed the resort from the site with a reference to an assumed violence against women. Media can state an individual has been charged with an assumed crime. They can not state the crime was committed by the individual. A hotel was removed from booking.com during our travel in Italy. We had issues with the hotel. I think it was booking.com responsibility to notify us during our trip that they had been removed, which they did not.

Posted by
8412 posts

Thanks Agnes. Absolutely disgusting. Would TA have made any changes at all if the newspaper hadn't started its investigation. We can expect to hear more stories like this now.

Posted by
1154 posts

Sad to say but anywhere in Mexico is off our list and has been for some time. There are just too many reports over the years of American tourists being robbed, drugged, beaten, or worse by our friends and acquaintances. I've always been leery of Mexican resorts, even the plush ones. It's not the resort itself, it's the staff that might resent "rich" Americans and adulterate your food or drinks. Don't think that doesn't happen, even before the hostile political climate revved up between the two countries. The police there are seldom any help and you essentially are on your own. There are far more friendly places that are safe and where tourists are appreciated and treated like guests.

Posted by
8412 posts

"The police there are seldom any help and you essentially are on your own."

Agreed George. I've had personal experience in a couple of developing countries and found this to be true. And the woman in this article found the hotel employees too scared of losing their jobs to help her. The underbelly of the beast.

That said, one of my offspring and his wife are in Yucatan and Mexico City as I write. Though Mexico had been (in 1970s and 1980s) my most favorite country to visit anywhere due to the amazing cultures, archaeology, history and generous people, I was leery about them going in 2017. However, I'm getting positive reports from them. Fingers crossed.

Posted by
1940 posts

NBC Nightly News w/ Lester Holt just reported that Trip Advisor has now put up warnings for certain hotels, resorts, etc. I was cooking, so I did not see what the warnings looked like, but something that looked like red warnings across the top of sample listings.
Just Google (after this evening's news cycle allows time for the West Coast news, then it should be on the news web site, and you can watch the story on line).

(Edited to correct a typo.)

Posted by
12898 posts

One chooses to read Trip Adv or not, an individual decision. I never read TA, don't follow it at all when planning a trip. definitely would not use it pertaining to Germany.

Posted by
13524 posts

NBC Nightly News w/ Lester Holt just reported that Trip Advisor has
not put up warnings for certain hotels, resorts, etc. I was cooking,
so I did not see what the warnings looked like, but something that
looked like red warnings across the top of sample listings.

They have put up warnings, and the red text on top of the page is what they look like:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g663501-d524093-Reviews-Iberostar_Paraiso_Maya-Playa_Paraiso_Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html

Posted by
1940 posts

Kathy,
Thank you for posting the link. I just skimmed back over my post from the other day, and I had a huge typo. I typed "not" when it should have read "now." So, thank you for correcting that.

I will go back and edit my typo.

But, I was encouraged when I heard on the news that warnings are NOW included.

Posted by
3789 posts

I continue to be a daily TripAdvisor users, but the site itself requires a warning label. No one should use just one source of advice, but over the years I recognize the credibility of TripAdvisor has deteriorated. It doesn't always publish that they have removed posts. It doesn't always close threads and list them as closed....they just disappear. On the other hand, I have found them useful for heads up to problems. Take the Riviera Maya forum. Last year, was a run on bacterial infections through the AIs. Then the alcohol tainting, and now it is clear the cartels are having turf wars involving killings right next to resort beaches. I don't see these listed on my limited daily news exposure, so these posts give me food for thought and allows me to define my travel approach. It is true that TA muzzles a lot, but eventually information gets through. In early days of the current political picture, there was a lot of removal from the Barcelona forums and most likely from those allowed to remove but were on opposite sides of the debate. Now, comments are reserved, and I can't help but wonder whether warnings to certain posters were applied. That, or the posters themselves are trying to reduce the damage done to tourism during this time. It is certainly not an impartial website and I agree it seems to have its own vested interests, however, as a consumer of information, I feel everyone needs to remember that very little is exactly as it seems. Any travel website can delete or close what it wants or interprets to be inappropriate.....just saying.

Posted by
4013 posts

I’m not certain what one means by having to “pay” to be listed on TA. I post reviews on it and have occasionally submitted businesses just so I could review them. They’ve always been approved and added to the site.

I don’t like what TA has done but at the same time, it has to do its best to determine truth from fiction. My guess is, it has some liability if it publishes information that is not true. I do know that most of the establishments I gave terrible reviews to have gone out of business. I also know that when I wrote worse than terrible reviews for two places, they were never approved until I moderated the wording in the review.

When I use TA to look for suggestions for my own trips, I view every review as being only one person’s opinion and look at the overall trend. Ultimately, where you stay and what you see is a personal choice. Also, you can use the U.S. State Department website to check for travel advisories.

Posted by
8412 posts

I’m not certain what one means by having to “pay” to be listed on TA.

Two businesses said they had to pay a yearly fee or they would not appear in TA searches. For example, if I did a search for hotels in Podunk, only the hotels that have paid TA will turn up in the search results. If I enter the name of a certain hotel in a certain city, the hotel will still appear, but it won't appear in a general search result. That's why I now do my initial search on city websites to get the names of what is available in a city or town. TA is no longer reliable for furnishing what is really on the ground.

No one has to pay to submit a review, only businesses who want to be included in search results.

Posted by
4013 posts

Interesting, the two establishments I submitted to be included were restaurants and both overseas. As previously stated, after they were approved I was able to submit my review. Guess it’s not impossible some places have to pay. Either way, TA’s reputation has been tarnished.