TripAdvisor’s Stocks Drop After Bungling Sexual Assault Charges

TripAdvisor's logo.

TripAdvisor, a website for both travel booking and discussion, came under fire this week for deleting and ignoring several reports of rape and assault.

Back in 2010, Kristie Love took a trip to Mexico, where she stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya. She returned to the hotel after a night out to find that her electronic key card had been deactivated. When she asked a uniformed guard for help, he assaulted her. Hotel staff refused to call the police.

Love wrote on the TravelAdvisor message boards several times over the next seven years describing her experiences and asking that action be taken against the perpetrator—or at least that potential travelers be warned.

All of her posts were deleted.

Subsequently, two other women reported being assaulted at the same location.

After a well-publicized investigative report from USA Today, TripAdvisor addressed the issue in a recent press release. According to the release, TripAdvisor previously had a policy of removing language from its forums that wasn’t “family-friendly.” Love’s posts, for example, were removed because they contained the word “rape.” Now, however, TripAdvisor welcomes first-hand accounts of negative experiences such as robbery, theft, and assault in order to warn other travelers. Love’s posts have been republished.

Additionally, TripAdvisor has started a new campaign to mark travel locations like hotels and restaurants with warning symbols if any safety issues have been reported. Mexico’s Iberostar Paraiso Maya, Iberostar Paraiso Lindo, and Grand Velas Maya have all been flagged. According to TripAdvisor company spokesman Brian Hoyt, the warnings are meant to alert visitors that they should do more research before booking a stay at any of these places. The flags will remain active for at least three months, after which an internal committee will decide whether or not to remove them.

After the press release, TripAdvisor said it had issued an apology to Love. TripAdvisor Chief Executive Steve Kaufer also said on his LinkedIn that an apology had been made.

However, Love reacted with disdain: “WHAT APOLOGY?” she wrote on Kaufer’s LinkedIn page. “I’ve yet to hear a word from TripAdvisor, and certainly not an apology!”

The apology was reportedly made shortly after.

Meanwhile shares of TripAdvisor stock have dropped 20% to five-year lows. The company has lost $1 billion in market value since this issue came to light.

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Star-Studded Group to Be Inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame

Snowsport goggles laid on top of an American flag.

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The US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame has announced its 2017 inductees, which include some of the biggest names in the sports. Both important financial supporters like Thom Weisel and well-known athletes like Eddie Ferguson will be added in honor of their accomplishments.

Eddie “Airborne” Ferguson is known as a freestyle icon who helped develop the hotdog freestyle skiing movement in the 70s. His camps taught over 4,000 students how to ski. His personal records are equally as impressive: he won the World Freestyle Championship in 1973, was a commentator for ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and became the youngest PSIA instruction at age 14.

Herman Gollner was a coach, competitor, and inventor best known for performing the first double backward somersault in 1965 as well as the first triple forward somersault in 1967. In 1968 he performed the “Moebius Flip” by doing a full somersault with a full twist on skis. He also invented a screw-in hinge alpine pole that helped reduce delays in slalom races all over the world.

Marty Hall drove the movement to bring US cross-country skiing into the international eye. In 1970 he became the first US women’s national coach to support a team in an FIS competition outside of the US. He also coached Bill Koch, America’s first—and only—cross-country skier to win an Olympic gold medal in 1976.

Michael and Steven Marolt earned their fame as what Outside Magazine called “two of the most accomplished ski mountaineers alive.” The twin brothers are known for having scaled and skied some of the most impressive descents—without oxygen, porters, or altitude drugs. They have been on 13 expeditions to the Himalayas alone and were the first Americans to ski from an 8,000-meter peak in Tibet.

Steve McKinney was a big name in the speed skiing world of the 70s and 80s. In addition to setting the world record in speed—117.7 MPH in 1974—he also broke that record in 1987, skiing over 130 MPH. He helped design the Trout Head Helmet and other aerodynamic equipment for the sport.

Shaun Palmer is known as one of the forefathers of extreme sport and competed in professional snowboarding for almost 20 years. He earned six X-Games gold medals, a gold medal at the 2002 Gravity Games, and a position on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic snowboard cross team. The 2001 ESPY Awards named him the Action Sports Athlete of the Year.

Thom Weisel is a longtime supporter of the US Ski Team. He was chairman of the Ski Team’s Foundation from 1983-84 and helped raise millions of dollars as well as bringing in organizational support. He was involved with the USSA for 35 years, providing leadership and financial prowess that earned him the USSA’s highest honor, the Julius Blegen Award.

The inductees will be officially honored in April 2018 at the Village at Squaw Valley during the Snowsport History Celebration, which brings in hundreds of skiing enthusiasts.

The US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum is the only national hall of fame dedicated to American skiing and snowboarding. Located in Ishpeming, Michigan, the museum provides visitors with extensive exhibits on the history of snowsport going back as far as its Nordic origins. Part of its 15,000 square feet of exhibits includes the Roland Palmedo Ski Library, which houses a collection of over 1,300 books, magazines, videos, and films on the sports of skiing and snowboarding.

Albuquerque Kicks National Coffee Day Up a Notch

An animated image of a coffee cup, an iced latte, and coffee beans. The image reads, "Coffee Day. September 29."

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Today is National Coffee Day, and Albuquerque, New Mexico is set to celebrate—and give back to the community.

Nationwide chains like Starbucks, Peet’s, Dunkin Donuts, and more are offering a variety of specials such as free drip coffee, discounts on beans, and various coffee tastings.

Even car ride service Lyft is getting in on the action: in select cities (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Dallas, and Philadelphia), riders will be able to get a free can of High Brew Cold Brew Coffee during their ride.

In Albuquerque, however, things are going a bit differently.

Thanks to the New Mexico Coffee Association, there will be a series of events not only to celebrate coffee, but to give back to nonprofit organizations and those who support fair trade coffee.

  • Red Rock Roasters will donate $1 of every bag of beans sold to Coffee Kids, a nonprofit that supports young coffee growers all over the world and helps them build sustainable businesses to support themselves and their families.
  • Pinion Coffee House will donate $1 from select drink sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico.
  • Deep Space Coffee will be featuring a fair trade Ethiopian coffee from Sweet Bloom Roasters.

And of course there will be special discounts and other events.

This is all due to the efforts of the New Mexico Coffee Association, a collection of 12 local roasters focused on raising awareness of the local coffee community, both to support small business and to encourage the appreciation of the unique culture of Albuquerque. As a nonprofit, they coordinate with local affiliates in the coffee industry and promote quality and diversity in the area coffee trade. And for those new to the area—or just unfamiliar with the coffee scene—they offer a “coffee trail” map of all the coffee shops in the area (conveniently downloadable as a PDF if you’re looking for something to take along).

Most Americans Face Hostile Work Environments, According to Survey

According to a new survey, most Americans face a hostile work environment.

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A recently released survey from the RAND Corporation, Harvard Medical School, and UCLA revealed some pretty disturbing findings about the current American workplace: many employees are under constant stress, workplaces are often hazardous, and social environments are frequently hostile, especially for women.

The survey was given to about 3,000 workers, and while not all of the information gleaned was negative, much of it does give reason for pause:

  • More than one in four American workers say they have too little time to complete their work. This complaint was most frequent among white-collar workers.
  • More than half do some sort of work outside of their workplace, impacting their ability to spend quality time with their friends and family.
  • More than half of those surveyed reported that they are exposed to unpleasant and even hazardous working conditions, including hostility and threats.
  • About 62 percent of American workers reported their work tasks are typically monotonous and unenjoyable.
  • Only 38 percent reported opportunities to advance within their employment.

It’s not all bad news, though. The survey revealed some positive traits of the modern workplace, too:

  • Four out of five Americans said their jobs met at least one definition of “meaningful” most of the time.
  • Eight out of ten American workers said their job is steady and predictable.
  • The majority of those surveyed said they saw “solving unforeseen problems” and “applying [their] own ideas” as important parts of their work.
  • Many reported a certain degree of autonomy and confidence about their skillset.
  • More than half of the surveyed workers (58 percent) said their boss is supportive, and 56 percent said they have good friends at work.

“There’s a message for employers here,” said the study lead author, Nicole Maestas. “Working conditions really do matter.”

This was the first survey of its kind, focusing on American workers ages 25-71. The RAND Corporation and its partners intend to collect data again next year to compare American and European working conditions.

Airbnb Offers Free Housing to Harvey Victims

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Airbnb has just extended its efforts to help those displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey. 

The company’s disaster relief program offers free room-and-board to anyone who has evacuated and/or lost their homes this week, and will continue to do so until September 25. The program was originally set up to help those affected when the hurricane made landfall, scheduled to end September 1. However, heavy rains have caused intense, unexpected flooding that has displaced upwards of 30,000 Houston residents, so Airbnb has extended the program to keep people safe and dry.

“We encourage hosts in safe, inland areas to aid in this effort by listing their available rooms or homes on the platform to help the growing number of evacuees,” Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s head of global disaster response and relief, said in a statement.

Those who offer their homes will not be charged the usual three percent listing fee, but they will still be backed by Airbnb’s host guarantee, which covers any potential property damage. There are currently 340 listings for Harvey evacuees.

Federal officials predict more than 450,000 people will need some type of assistance due to the storm, so this program is a godsend to Texans who may have lost everything (or may not see their homes for many months). Airbnb has expanded the program to reach all of Houston, and is even spreading out as far as Austin and Dallas. Now that rain and flooding is affecting Louisiana, it won’t be surprising if Airbnb extends the program to them as well.

Airbnb’s disaster relief program began in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast United States. Airbnb emails hosts in safe areas that are close to disaster zones, asking them to add their homes to the program. Airbnb is currently offering disaster relief to those affected by the floods in Mumbai, India as well as Tropical Storm Harvey.

New Ways to Show Employees Some Love

Check out these three new ways that employers are showing their appreciation.

There are many ways to show employees you appreciate them. Photo via Pixabay

Whether it’s providing employees with a stake in the company, creating an intranet system of recognition, or rearranging a profit-sharing plan so that it takes into account age (and thereby rewards employees who have been with the company longer), the business world continues to create new ways to show its appreciation for hardworking individuals.

Gardner Denver

In May of this year, Gardner Denver, an industrial company based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made a bold move toward showing appreciation for its employees…to the tune of $100 million in stock.

“It makes our companies stronger and more effective,” explained Pete Stavros, the KKR executive who represents KKR’s investment in Gardner and is also chairman of the Gardner board. He added that this sort of incentive helps motivate employees and encourage engagement.

More than 6,000 Gardner employees will be receiving stock as part of Gardner’s recent IPO. The shares will be worth up to 40% of their annual salaries.

“We have big aspirations for Gardner Denver,” said Stavros. “We hope a significant portion of the [employees] will see what we see—that there’s a lot of room to run.”

Jostle and Bonusly

This month Jostle and Bonusly teamed up to offer their employees a new sort of benefit: an easier way to receive recognition from their coworkers. The new intranet is set up to encourage employee engagement via a point system. When employees leave notes about the good things they’ve seen or experienced each other doing, the person on the receiving end gets points that can be redeemed for small rewards.

Called the People Engagement platform, this intranet has already had a positive effect n the various companies like Bonusly and Jostle who use it.

“What we have created is a framework for post hoc recognition,” explains Raphael Crawford-Marks, co-founder and CEO of Bonusly. “People want to be able to give praise and recognition in the workforce, but they often don’t have a venue to do it. That is what we provide.”

Cross-Tested Plans

For small professional firms looking to reward long-time employees, a cross-tested plan allows managers to divide workers into groups when it comes to determining contributions to their retirement plans. That means older employees can get bonus contributions as an extra thank you for all their years of service. Small physicians’ offices, law firms, and engineering companies often take advantage of this setup.

“This [program] takes age into account, enabling the contributions allocated to older employees to be larger than those made to younger employees” because older employees have a shorter time to go until retirement, says Rob Massa, Director of Retirement at Ascende Wealth Advisors in Houston, Texas. This year, the maximum that can be contributed is $54,000.

A cross-tested plan can help with employee retention—not to mention giving a big thank you to the dedicated workers who have helped build a company over the years.

All three of these options are great ways to show employees that their work is valued—and that it will be rewarded, both in the long term and the short term.

KKR Appoints Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall as Co-Presidents and Co-Chief Operating Officers

Two businessmen shaking hands.

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Multinational private equity company KKR has announced a new line of leadership. As of July 17, 2017, Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall will oversee KKR’s day-to-day operations as co-presidents and co-chief operating officers.

Unusual? Yes. Unheard of? No.

Other companies have appointed co-presidents before. Take Santander Bank, for example. This past June, Santander appointed Robert Rubino and Michael Clearly as co-presidents of the bank.

And even more recently, on July 24, 2017, Sony named Jason Clodfelter and Chris Parnell as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television Studios.

But what’s particularly unique about KKR is the fact that the firm also has co-CEOS: cousins Henry Kravis and George Roberts. Kravis and Roberts co-founded KKR in 1976 alongside their former colleague Jerome Kohlberg, Jr.

According to The New York Times, the appointment of Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall as co-presidents and co-chief operating officers is “the biggest shakeup in the 41-year-old firm’s history since KKR’s other co-founder, Jerome Kohlberg, Jr, left it in 1987.”

But in all honesty, the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. Kravis and Roberts, both 73, have already passed retirement age. This new level of leadership will act as a line of succession for whenever Kravis and Roberts decide to step down.

“Having joined the firm together over 20 years ago, Joe and Scott have a strong foundation of trust, professional respect, and personal friendship that is critical for success,” Kravis and Roberts said in a joint statement. “They think and act globally, they embody KKR’s core values, and they are two of our most accomplished business leaders, with proven track records of managing large teams, building new businesses, and driving value for our fund investors and our public unit holders.”

Together, Bae and Nuttall will oversee more than $90 billion in KKR assets. It’s a huge responsibility to take on, but one that both men are prepared for.

Ford Puts New CEO in the Driver’s Seat

Ford's logo.

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On Monday, Ford replaced its current chief executive, Mark Fields, with Jim Hackett, who had been responsible for the Ford subsidiary that works on autonomous vehicles. During Fields’ three-year stint as CEO, Ford has seen losses in both sales and profits. Although the U.S. automotive industry as a whole has been soft, Ford’s sales are down 25% this year, and first quarter profits fell by 30%, which is a far greater decline than its competitors.

Ford’s board was critical of Fields’ failure to keep pace with companies like Tesla, General Motors, and Google in the development of self-driving cars. Ford has not only fallen behind these companies in this area, but it has also failed to deliver profitable sales of their existing models despite the fact that, at the recent annual meeting, Fields said that Ford was capable of staying competitive in the current automotive market while also “keeping one foot in the future.” Ford promised to have a fully autonomous car on the road by 2021. But the Board felt that was not soon enough to beat the competitors who are already testing such vehicles.

Other issues have dogged Fields during his time at Ford. Ford has had a number of safety recalls that have raised concerns about its ability to insure quality. Fields was also involved in a failed plan to build an assembly plant for small cars in Mexico. And as recently as last week, Fields cut 1,400 jobs in an effort to improve the bottom line. But the stock price continued to decline.

The appointment of Hackett to the top job is a signal that the Board sees self-driving cars as the wave of the future and will be putting more pressure on the new CEO to successfully and more quickly develop a self-driving automobile that can compete in the marketplace.

Airlines Making Billions From Baggage Fees

A huge pile of cash.

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Airlines are making a killing from fees. Last year, U.S. based airlines brought in a total of $4.2 billion from baggage fees alone, according to figures released by the Department of Transportation. That’s a 10% increase from 2015.

Yet according to airline executives, profits aren’t as high as they were in the past, even with lower fuel costs. Airlines reported $13.6 billion in profits total, down 45% from 2015, citing higher labor costs as the reason for the lower figures. Lower passenger fares also attributed to the lower revenue, as ticket sales fell one percent to $124.2 billion.

These lower profits are the main justification for extra fees, not just for luggage but legroom, seat selections, and early boarding to name a few. Airline executives claim these fees allow passengers to choose the kinds of service they want, even though few flyers are fans.

This news comes right as executives from America’s major airlines testified before Congress about their customer service protocols. While this was prompted by last month’s United Airlines debacle, many took the opportunity to vocalize their disdain for airline fees.

William McGee, a former airline executive now representing the Consumers Union, argues that the fees are disingenuous and unfair to passengers.

“We’ve heard a lot about pricing today, about fares being lower than they were 25 years ago,” McGee testified. “The fact is that obscures fees we didn’t used to pay. Every day there are higher and higher fees. Passengers are getting gouged.”

Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano agrees that customers are negatively affected by these business practices.

“I go in the computer to try to figure out which flight I want to take. Some charge fees for baggage. Some charge fees for oxygen. Who knows? You can’t get comparable prices,” Capuano said.

As expected, executives from United and American disagreed, saying the baggage fees help keep other costs, such a ticket prices, low.

ESPN Facing Major Layoffs

A photo of an ESPN microphone.

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ESPN is the latest organization to be hit by the digital craze. The sports network is laying off 100 employees this week (mostly on-air talent) hitting every facet of the organization as ESPN is moving toward a mostly digitized medium.

Sources say the decision comes after an increasing amount of costs and decreasing number of cable subscribers have cut into its bottom line. For a network that has spent billions of dollars in deals with major sports teams and events, layoffs are no surprise to anyone. So who is getting hit? Well, some big names at the network.

Yesterday, Deadspin posted a number of tweets from ESPN anchors, writers, and reporters who were given the bad news, some of who worked at the network for decades.

NFL Reporter Ed Werder was one of the first to go.

“After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I’ve been informed that I’m being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire,” he tweeted.

“SportsCenter” Anchor Jay Crawford, Big Ten Reporter Brian Bennett, and MLB Writer Jayson Stark are some of the other talent who are now gone. College Basketball reporter C.L. Brown found out about his firing while on vacation.

ESPN President John Skipper noted how difficult this decision was, thanking the former employees for their “great work” and “many contributions,” yet made it clear that the layoffs had to be done.

“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value,” Skipper stated, “and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent–anchors, analysts, reporters, writers, and those who handle play-by-play–necessary to meet those demands.”

Many of the people laid off were at the end of their contracts and unwilling to take a massive pay cut. The rest of which were bought out of their contracts.

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