Take Action

Not on the Front Lines, but in the Fight – a TMC’s Role in Ending Trafficking

Guest Blog by Andrew Riegler, Director of Marketing at CorpTrav

When you understand ECPAT’s mission “to protect every child’s basic human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking,” it’s an easy decision to support this cause.

Several years ago after learning about ECPAT at a GBTA conference, CorpTrav partnered with ECPAT. When the group returned from the conference and introduced ECPAT to the executive team, there was no doubt – not a single hesitation – this was a cause we needed to support.

Human trafficking and child exploitation is a dark, scary topic. It’s not something we want to think about. As mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, it’s the stuff of literal nightmares. What’s even scarier is that these nightmares aren’t simply reserved for the deep, dark corners of a faraway place. It’s happening right here in the United States. In your state. Maybe even in your neighborhood.

Traffickers often travel by air to move from city to city. They use hotels to conduct their business. We have an audience of frequent business travelers who are on the front lines.

The more educated and trained our employees, occasional business travelers, and road warriors are in identifying the signs, the greater the chance of helping to save someone.

Learning to identify some of the basic red flags takes little more than your lunch break for a time commitment, but could make a lifetime of difference for someone’s child.

I find myself being more aware when traveling, whether at the airport, on the plane or especially in my hotel. Paying a little more attention to your surroundings isn’t hard. Traffickers count on the fact that most people aren’t paying attention and tend to mind their own business.

Ways CorpTrav supports ECPAT and helps spread awareness:

  • Top member status with The Code - an industry-driven initiative with the mission to provide awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry to prevent the sexual exploitation of children

  • ECPAT training is mandatory for every new employee’s onboarding and orientation

  • We include a zero tolerance policy and clause in 100% of our contracts with suppliers

  • We leverage our social platforms to help spread awareness of ECPAT, their mission, and ways our audience can help

  • We partner with clients and the local community to identify opportunities to promote ECPAT

  • CorpTrav’s senior vice president, Mary Batal-Riley actively participates on the board of ECPAT’s TMC Advisory Committee

As one of the largest woman-owned, independent global travel management companies, we have a responsibility to use our voice and influence in the travel industry to help support and spread awareness for ECPAT’s mission. As human beings, we need to join together and put an end to human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.

Video | Listen to Survivors

Each year, millions of people are victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation, and every dollar of profit is fueled by someone's pain. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, where we renew our dedication to end all forms of slavery, trafficking, and exploitation. Hear the stories behind the statistics, and join us in creating a world where no child is bought, sold, or used for sex.

This video was produced by World Without Exploitation.

No Vacancy: How the Meetings and Events Industry Can Help Stop Child Sex Trafficking

Child sex trafficking is a crime that happens across the United States, often in hotel rooms. Something that you might consider is that other businesses, parallel to the hospitality industry, can help protect children—the meeting and events industry is one of them because the meetings industry works with hotels and with companies that book hotels for their employees.

In September, ECPAT-USA released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts in hotels. Now we are sharing a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. This blog provides information for meeting planning professionals about how they can take action on this issue. The information extends to corporate travel managers (in-house professionals who manage travel for private companies) and travel management companies (entire companies that focus on booking travel for clients).

Meeting planning professionals are uniquely situated between hotels and companies that book travel for their employees. Both of these groups can play a role in ending child sex trafficking, and meetings professionals have the power to persuade them to do so.

 

What the Meetings Industry Can Do

Professionals in the meetings industry can help persuade both travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and corporate travel managers to implement policies and programs to protect children. Hotels must have policies in place that state a zero-tolerance of sex trafficking and train their associates. Travel managers must book hotels that have these standards in place.

Let’s face it, money talks. Meeting planning professionals are in an ideal position to discuss child-protection policies with travel suppliers, such as hotels, because sheer size of contracts with hotels. Over time, the long standing relationships with suppliers also means that they trust you. As meeting professionals you can use this influence to share information about training.

At the panel that launched No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, survivor and advocate Katrina Owens pointed out that numbers matter when it comes to getting companies and those in power to act on child sex trafficking. The more people that speak out against a harmful practice or advocate for a positive practice, the more likely results are. The meetings industry has great power to effect change on child sex trafficking because, while meetings companies often only have a few employees, you represent many clients, and therefore can send a powerful message to the hospitality industry.

Meeting planning professionals are also well positioned to speak to corporate travel executives about this issue because corporate travel executives look to you to provide information about travel industry trends and risk areas.

One concrete way meeting planning professionals must combat child sex trafficking is by integrating requirements about anti-trafficking policies and training into your RFPs.

By making these requirements part of standard practice, meetings professionals send the message that child sex trafficking is unacceptable and travel companies can act to combat it.  Language in RFPs can educate hotels who may not know about the issue, and persuade those who may be reluctant to institute policies and training to protect children. You can also educate corporate travel managers by discussing the issue when working on RFPs for their travel, and explaining why it is important to include child-safe language in RFPs and contracts with suppliers.

Our partner, Nix Conference & Meeting Management, includes questions about trafficking policies in all of their RFPs. They ask three questions of all potential clients: “Does your property have a policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children or child sex trafficking? Are you aware of the ECPAT-USA Code of Conduct? If no, would you be willing to receive additional information from ECPAT-USA regarding The Code of Conduct?” These questions start a conversation about trafficking and what properties can do to protect children.

In addition to integrating language about anti-trafficking training into RFPs, meeting planning professionals can also choose to work with hotels that already have training in place. By prioritizing these hotels, and making this policy known to the hotel industry, meeting planning professionals can send a message that training associates about human trafficking is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.

4 Ways to Fight Trafficking this Fall

This fall, join us in the fight to end child trafficking. 

We're sharing 4 ways you can help in the coming days, weeks, and season. Together, we can protect every child's basic human right to grow up free.

FreedomAwards

1. Join Us for the Freedom Awards

You're invited! Celebrate leaders in the fight to end child trafficking while supporting our vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. This November 9, we're honoring the CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, Monique Villa, and New York City Police Commissioner, James P. O'Neill.

 
NoVacancy.jpg

2. Fight Trafficking on Your Next Trip

Follow our "No Vacancy" blog series to learn how you can fight trafficking when you travel. Read the latest here.

 
AnyKidAnySchool.png

3. Spread the Word on #AnyKidAnySchool

School age children in the U.S. are at risk for trafficking. View our latest PSA and get involved in your community. Learn more.

 
InOurBackyard.png

4. Join ECPAT-USA for a Film Screening

Join ECPAT-USA this evening at the Brooklyn Public Library for a free screening of "In Our Backyard." Register here.

No Vacancy: How Hotels Can Fight Trafficking

From policies to training that matters—hotels can make a difference.

Child sex trafficking is a crime that happens across the United States, often in hotel rooms. While the hospitality industry is not responsible for trafficking, it does have an important role to play in helping to stop it.  

ECPAT-USA recently released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. If you work in the hospitality industry, this blog is for you! If not, please share it with your friends and family who can have a direct impact.

ECPAT_NoVacancy

With the use of online classified ads, child sex trafficking is not only on the streets, but also behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create an ad in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims right out of the hotel or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.  

Hotel rooms are a preferred venue for the sale of children because traffickers believe they are anonymous at hotels, giving them a sense that there is little risk in their behavior. They also believe that hotels are risk-free because they believe training on indicators of child sex trafficking is not widespread.

Hotels can help stop child sex trafficking by training their associates. Hotel associates are more likely to witness trafficking than the average person. Training teaches people working in hotels how to identify instances of child sex trafficking and how to safely and effectively address any instances they may see.

Many hotels are implementing training. No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training for their associates.

Still, there is more work to be done. While 40% of hotel properties in the United States have access to ECPAT training, not all training is reaching associates on the ground level.

 

What Hotels Can Do

ECPAT-NoVacancy.jpg

Adopt policies and procedures related to the sexual exploitation of children and have resources available to properties. Hospitality brands must develop policies that state a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation of children and develop procedures to respond to suspected instances of such exploitation.

Official policies send a message to associates that putting an end to the commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking is important to the company. Companies must also provide their employees with a protocol (procedure) for responding to any suspicions of exploitation.

One example of a great policy against the sexual exploitation of children is the Hyatt Hotels Corporation Human Rights Statement. In addition to stating a clear repudiation and zero tolerance policy of child sex trafficking, the Hyatt statement also references human rights standards and states their open door policy to encourage associates to report any incidents.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics is another excellent example of a hotel brand policy. Their policy clearly states what associates should do if they suspect an instance of child sex trafficking:  “All employees must be vigilant and immediately report to managers, supervisors, the Legal department or the Business Conduct and Ethics Hotline, as appropriate, all situations that come to their attention in the Company’s premises or businesses where sexual exploitation of children is suspected or appears to be intended.”

Whatever a company’s reporting protocol is, it should be clearly stated and easy to find in their anti-trafficking policy.

Hotel brands interested in creating a policy and procedures related to the sexual exploitation of children can contact ECPAT-USA.

Hotels must also mandate that all associates working in all hotel properties, whether they are franchised OR owned, have training.

Hotel brands that offer training for their employees have taken an important step to combat child sexual exploitation, but what does that training do if it is not being used? This issue must become part of on-the-job training.

Employees who are well-trained on the issue will comfortably execute their company’s protocol for responding to the issue. This prevents employees from frantically reacting to situations, which could lead a violent response from an exploiter.

While the data in the report does show that ECPAT-USA training has far reach, the study also found that training does not always reach the front-line of hotels. Some hotel properties whose parent companies have policies and commitments to protect children are not training on the issue. This is an ongoing challenge with hotels that do not mandate but only suggest training to properties in their portfolio.

A staggering 52% of hotel properties in the U.S. are franchised, rather than owned and operated by hotel brands themselves, which means the brand is more hands-off. But for this issue, things need to be different! Training must be required at franchised properties.

To date, a number of brands have moved towards requiring instead of suggesting training to properties and other brands must follow. Marriott mandates human trafficking training for all associates in all of their properties, including franchisees. Similarly, as a brand standard, Hyatt International mandates that all hotels take human trafficking training but does not specify which training franchised hotels participate in.

In addition to being the right thing to do, taking these steps can protect hotels from legal, financial, or image problems should an instance of child sex trafficking occur at one of their properties.

To learn all of the steps hotels must take, or for more information, visit ecpatusa.org/novacancy.

No Vacancy: How You Can Fight Child Sex Trafficking On Your Next Trip

In recent years buying fair trade coffee and clothing has become mainstream but something we at ECPAT-USA have noticed is that we never hear our friends say they are traveling responsibly. The concept of responsible travel is similar to that of purchasing fair trade goods— you choose to spend your money ethically and with respect for human rights.

Choosing a hotel is an opportunity to use your purchasing power for good—to help stop child sex trafficking.

Last week, ECPAT-USA released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. Later this week we will be highlighting hotels, and the steps they can take to combat this scourge. In this  we’ll give you tips for how to be a more responsible traveler!

While child sex trafficking may seem like a crime that happens in far away places, it happens more than you think throughout the United States.

With the use of online classified ads, child sex trafficking is not only on the streets, but also behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create an ad in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims right out of the hotel or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.  

While the hospitality industry is not responsible for trafficking, it does have an important role to play in helping to stop it.

Hotel rooms are a preferred venue for the sale of children because traffickers believe they are anonymous at hotels, giving them a sense that there is little risk in their behavior. For this reason, hotel associates are more likely to witness trafficking than the average person. In response, we ask hotels to train their associates on the indicators of trafficking and how to respond to it.

Many hotels are doing just that. The report we released last week, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training for their associates. It also lists which hotels in the U.S. have signed ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines travel companies, including hotels, agree to take to combat child sex trafficking; one of those steps is providing training.

ECPAT-USA.jpg

One hotel brand leading the way on training is Marriott. Marriott requires associates at all the properties in their portfolio to take human rights training that covers trafficking, which is a step beyond some hotels that just recommend training.

Accor Hotels, another ECPAT-USA partner, has taken an innovative approach on this issue by tying bonuses for their managers to training. Accor managers must have held anti-trafficking training at their properties to get their bonuses. Numerous other hotels are implementing their own initiatives.

On your next trip, stay at one of these hotels.

By choosing to stay at a hotel that has employees trained to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children, you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting businesses taking a stand, and real steps, against child sex trafficking.

Or, if your favorite hotel has not signed The Code, use this letter to ask them to sign.

Every child has a right to grow up free from sexual exploitation and trafficking, and you can help by spending your travel dollars at a hotel working on this issue.

To learn more about traveling responsibly, read our full report and visit our responsible traveler page.

Become an Activist Against Child Trafficking

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Before the month is over, do at least one of these things to make your mark against the trafficking of children:

Read up here on child trafficking so you are aware and informed. Tell your friends what you learned.

Write a letter to your member of Congress supporting laws that protect children. Here’s one about a law that calls on companies to take steps to let us all know how they are helping child trafficking victims.

Buy our fair-trade products that support women in Thailand who are at risk for being trafficked.

Sign up for one of our Advocacy Journeys to learn about child trafficking on the ground in other countries.

Sign up for the ECPAT-Athletes team in the New York City TD 5 Boro Bike Ride or for the TCS New York City Marathon by sending an email to athletes@ecpatusa.org to reserve your spot!

View our 20-minute video called What I Have Been Through is Not Who I Am. It has been used by law enforcement agencies and child protective service agencies across the country as a training tool.

Host a screening of the blockbuster film SOLD, starring Gillian Anderson and David Arquette, to raise awareness and benefit ECPAT-USA. Go to www.ecpatusa.org/SOLD to request your screening guide.

ECPAT-USA’s Screening of SOLD Unites Los Angeles to End Child Sex Trafficking

SOLD.jpg

ECPAT-USA, will hold a special screening of SOLD the movie with guest appearances by David Arquette and breakout star Niyar Saikia at Regal Cinemas Live 14 on Tuesday, January 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

Sponsored by leaders in the travel sector including HRS Global Hotel Solutions, The Parking Spot, Delta Air Lines, Marriott International, and the The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE, the event will align the Los Angeles community to put an end to child sex trafficking. Celebrities, government officials, the private sector, and the public will unite for the cause, raising funds and support for ECPAT-USA's mission to create a world where no child is bought, sold, or used for sex.

Based on true stories and adapted from the globally acclaimed novel by Patricia McCormick, SOLD is the story of Lakshmi who journeys from a pastoral, rural village in Nepal to a gritty brothel/prison called Happiness House in Kolkata, India. Through one extraordinary girl’s story, SOLD illustrates the brutality of child trafficking, which affects millions of children around the globe every year. SOLD is directed by Academy and Emmy award-winner, Jeffrey D. Brown and executive produced by two-time Academy Award winner, Emma Thompson.

The evening will kick off at 6pm with a reception in the Regal LA Premiere Lobby with drinks and fresh seasonal bites from Wolfgang Puck. SOLD will screen at 7:30pm, followed by a conversation with actors David Arquette and Niyar Saikia, the film’s producers Jeffrey Brown and Jane Charles, and ECPAT-USA. The discussion will take guests beyond the film and mobilize them to take action against trafficking in their own communities.

In addition to the screening and conversation, ECPAT-USA is thrilled to announce three luxury travel prizes for guests who support the cause to end child sex trafficking. Prizes include two luxury staycations in Los Angeles and a grand prize. The Grand Prize is a 5-night Luxury Getaway Package to San Francisco and Napa with 2 Delta Air Lines Comfort+ Tickets to San Francisco, a Ritz-Carlton San Francisco 2 night deluxe room, a Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa 3 night deluxe room with hot air balloon ride for 2 people, 60 minute Swedish massage for 2 people, EmpireCLS luxury transportation, and The Parking Spot parking for trip duration. One Luxury Staycation Prize in Los Angeles includes a Sheraton Grand Los Angeles 2 night stay, EmpireCLS luxury transportation, and 6 UCLA basketball tickets for February 12th game against Oregon State Beavers, including one parking pass. The other Luxury Staycation Prize in Los Angeles includes a Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites 2 night stay including overnight valet parking with a full breakfast at Lakeview Bistro.

For each $20 donation guests make online, they receive an entry for the staycations. For the grand prize, guests can also enter to win in person, at the event, by making a $20 donation. The winner of the grand prize will be announced at the event and must be present to win.

The event is free with donation and open to the public. All proceeds from night will go to support ECPAT-USA’s work to end child slavery.

For tickets and more information, visit ecpatusa.org/SOLD.

"I am thrilled to see the Los Angeles community join together to make this event happen," said Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA. "These partnerships will make a lasting impact in our work to protect children from sexual exploitation."

"We made SOLD as a tool for change and we are thrilled ECPAT will show SOLD to raise funds for their critical work," said Jeffrey Brown, the producer of the film SOLD. “ECPAT is the lead organization protecting children's rights in the U.S."

“The travel industry continues to make progress in building awareness and addressing some of the horrible realities brought to light by this film,” said Suzanne Neufang, vice president of the Americas for HRS. “ECPAT-USA’s work on this front is to be commended, and we pledge to work closely with our industry peers to drive both education and preventative action where we can.”

"As a leading global lodging company, Marriott International is committed to supporting and respecting human rights within our sphere of influence," said Tu Rinsche, director of corporate social responsibility. "We will continue to work with leading organizations, such as ECPAT-USA, and the broader industry to address human trafficking globally."

"The Parking Spot is honored to support ECPAT-USA's work to end child slavery at the source," said Kent Dennis, senior sales manager at The Parking Spot. "The SOLD screening is not only a chance to educate people about the issue of child trafficking, but it gives us the opportunity to team up and discuss the issue."

ECPAT-USA works directly with the travel industry to protect commercially sexually exploited children. Learn more here.

What is New York City Doing to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation?

This year, ECPAT-USA celebrates 25 years of child protection.  Things have changed for the better since we began working to protect children from sexual exploitation.

New York State passed its Safe Harbor law, the first in the nation, in 2008.  While it is not the country’s strongest law to ensure children are protected from sexual exploitation, it did mark the beginning for New York to get more serious about training, awareness, prevention and protection for vulnerable children.  Read our report “Steps to Safety”  to learn more about the array of Safe Harbor laws across the country.  

I sat down recently with Susan Morley, Special Advisor for Investigations to the Commissioner and Selina Higgins, Director of Child Trafficking Prevention and Policy of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the leadership team for implementing protections for sexually exploited children in the city.  They described extensive training, services and awareness raising going on throughout the system.

  • In 2012 ACS published its initial policy on serving sexually exploited children.
  • Almost a thousand ACS, foster care and preventive agency staff were trained in Child Trafficking Awareness and Engagement/Interviewing skills during 2015.  Training is ongoing for staff and sub-contractor foster care and preventive agencies, and detention service providers.  Over a hundred  agencies around the city in which ACS works have received training.
  • ACS hired its first Director of Child Trafficking Prevention and Policy in 2015, and is hiring an additional Child Trafficking Prevention Specialist.
  • They created a specialized team of former NYPD Detectives to locate missing youth at risk of CSEC.
  • Funding for services for trafficked youth was provided to eight youth-serving organizations.
  • Work is taking place to develop a Child Trafficking Database so that we know how many sexually exploited children have been identified.  
  • The agency created an internal “Child Trafficking Mailbox” to facilitate communications, to provide alerts of trafficking cases, and to receive consultations, resource ideas and referral information.
  • This year ACS is again providing 12 sessions of its full-day Child Trafficking Awareness and Skills training, with 5 dates targeted specifically for preventive service agencies.

The buying and selling of children for sexual exploitation is a lucrative business everywhere in the United States, not just New York and other big cities.

But for 25 years there has been a growing movement to stop it. ECPAT-USA is proud of the progress we have made.