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What You Should Know

Vacation Safety: What Resorts Don't Want You To Know

When you stay at a hotel or resort in Florida, the owners have a duty to use reasonable care to make sure that visitors are safe while on the property. This includes the usual concerns for public property, such as fire safety and avoiding unnecessary trip and fall hazards. But it also includes keeping guests reasonably safe from crimes, such as robbery, rape, or other assault. This can be accomplished with good lighting, locking interior and exterior doors, well trained and vetted security guards, and other safety measures. (The same is true for apartment buildings, by the way. The owners have a duty to make sure the property is adequately lit and secure for the safety of their residents.)

The more prone an area or the particular resort is to crime, the more aware the owners should be of the issues and the stronger the precautions they should take. If a hotel is in a quiet, low-crime area, security lights and strong locks may be a reasonably sufficient safeguard against crime. But, if the resort is in a high traffic, high crime area, greater precautions should be taken.

If the resort knows of actual incidents that have taken place on property or nearby, they must take guest security even more seriously. Review sites like TripAdvisor and Oyster.com can play an important role in informing both the public and hotel management about problems at a hotel. Owners often review these sites to monitor customer satisfaction and address any issues that come up. Potential guests rely on them to learn cleanliness, amenities, and, yes, safety of the premises.

That is why it was shocking when earlier this year the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel uncovered that TripAdvisor was removing reviews and forum posts referring to rapes, assaults, and other incidents at some resorts. These were important warnings for potential guests and potentially enlightening information for hotel management—scrubbed from the internet without good reason. TripAdvisor claims the removals were because the posts were not “family friendly,” but don’t families have the right to know whether the resort they’re taking their vacation to is safe?

The reporting goes on to discuss the lack of transparency for who at TripAdvisor has the power to remove reviews and under what circumstances. Given that the popular travel website partners with hotels and booking agencies, it is deeply concerning that financial interests may have taken a higher prior than safety.

After the backlash to these revelations, TripAdvisor has reversed course and begun marking resorts where safety concerns have been raised. It is unfortunate that public outcry, and the repeated insistence of the people who have been harmed, is required to bring attention to these issues and force companies to do the right thing.

If you have been the victim of a crime at a resort, the hotel may be at fault. Measures must be taken to make them aware, hold them accountable, and help protect future visitors. Call me at (850) 583-9409 to discover if you can recover damages.