ECPAT-USA Launches Initiative to Train 20,000 Professionals To Fight Human Trafficking

20BY20 is an unprecedented partnership with the events industry to combat exploitation worldwide through prevention and response

ECPAT-USA, in conjunction with the United Nations’ World Day Against Human Trafficking in Persons, is launching a landmark global initiative to train 20,000 events industry professionals by July 2020.

To help build a future where this crime does not exist, leading organizations are pledging to proactively encourage their members, partners, and staff to become part of this global effort. ECPAT-USA is pleased to announce its founding class of Business Events Champions includes CorpTrav, CWT, IAEE, IMEX Group, and PCMA. 

Human traffickers use travel industry infrastructure (hotels and airlines) to exploit and transport their victims and can leverage large-scale events to find customers. ECPAT-USA’s 25-minute online training program for business events and travel professionals, Preventing & Responding To Human Trafficking And The Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of Children, is designed to teach them what to look for and how to respond to suspected instances of trafficking. It is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

“We are at a critical juncture in ECPAT-USA’s goal to end child sex trafficking and exploitation,” says Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for the organization. “To have the business events industry become a unified part of the fight against this international scourge by championing education is essential to achieving this vision.”

 To see the full list of participating organizations, join the cause, or find out more about how industry professionals can become a meaningful part of the solution see The campaign will feature ongoing digital and community promotions, media initiatives, and progress updates. To show your support today, join the force of Business Events Protectors at #BEProtectors and follow our progress at #20BY20.

Three Ways Your Company Can Fight Trafficking Today

Companies that acknowledge their role and responsibility in recognizing and preventing child sex trafficking are key to ending exploitation. Since we began working with the hotel and travel industry, we have seen the impact these partnerships have - including protecting countless children. You can use the following three ways to make your company a champion for children today.

1. Through Event Gifts

Now more than ever, customers are seeking responsibly-sourced products that make a difference, and the same should be true when it comes to corporate event gifts. Made at the Regina Center in Thailand, our fair trade keychains not only support our work to end exploitation, they provide income-generating opportunities for women at the center. The project enables women to stay in their villages and keep their children in school, which are two major strategies in reducing sex trafficking.

2. Through Venue Booking RFPs

Companies of all sizes and structures can integrate policies against human trafficking into an already existing human rights policy, adopt the policy on its own, and/or include it in the company’s employee handbook. In addition, large-scale travel purchasing can influence travel companies to take steps to fight human trafficking and child exploitation by including language addressing the issue in Requests For Proposals (RFPs). By making these requirements part of standard travel procurement practice, meetings and travel professionals send the message that child sex trafficking is unacceptable.

3. Through Training

Last January, ECPAT-USA launched a new e-learning to help previously untapped sectors of the travel industry join the fight to end human trafficking. Through the training, travel, and meetings professionals are given the tools to identify and respond to trafficking as well as how to take action with clients and suppliers. Check out the e-learning and free resources for travel professionals on our site today.

ECPAT-USA Expanding Anti-Human Trafficking Training to New Areas of the Travel Industry

New training designed for travel management professionals, corporate travel managers, and those in the meeting and events industry

Click through to read the full press release

Click through to read the full press release

Last year, ECPAT-USA shared the story of Denise Miracle, an American Airlines Gate Agent who stopped two young girls from Sacramento, California from meeting a man in New York they had only talked to on Instagram. He told them he would help them become models and sent them tickets. Without their parents knowledge both girls headed to the airport. Unknowingly, the girls had one-way tickets that were bought with fraudulent credit cards. Through training and sound mind, Denise prevented trafficking.

Human traffickers use domestic and international airlines to lure or move victims from one place to another.

The year before, an Uber driver named Keith Avila. He noticed a girl in his car who appeared to be very young and in attire that was not age appropriate. The two women in the car were talking to her about the commercial sex industry. He knew something was wrong and as soon as he dropped the riders off at the hotel where they were meeting a man, he called for help. That day Keith Avila helped break up a child sex trafficking ring.

The on-demand economy can be used to transport victims of trafficking from one hotel to another, where victims are exploited by buyers. Without proper training, victims will go unnoticed.

Hotel executives have shared stories of security professionals using training to identify missing children who now have a chance to be reunited with their families.

These are examples of front-line responses to child sex trafficking. These people responded to their gut instincts and training on human trafficking prevention.

But we knew that wasn’t all we could do.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), estimates that over 40 million people are living in human trafficking and exploitative conditions worldwide. 1 in 4 victims are children. While we know we are making progress, it’s not enough.

ECPAT-USA partners with the top three largest hotel brands in the world and two of the largest domestic airlines. Each company adopted anti-trafficking policies and implements comprehensive training on the issue. The changes we’ve seen are undeniable and there is enough momentum within front-line companies to say that it's time to innovate our efforts.

We heard story after story that proved we need to move beyond the front lines.

We introduced you to Dawn Rasmussen, an Oregon-based resume writer and career management coach who was taking a break from kayaking one day when she noticed a young woman walking alone in a parking lot. She noticed indicators she learned during an education session from her local chapter Meeting Professionals International. Dawn learned the woman was a runaway and she called for support, preventing the woman from being exploited.

Sara, a corporate travel manager, went a conference in Mexico where a company hosted a session about the signs and how to respond to human trafficking. On her way home, she noticed a woman who had little to no luggage, she seemed unclear of her destination, a bit lost. There was just something off. Sara couldn’t believe it. Was she seeing human trafficking in real time?

Sara was not sure exactly what to do but after a few attempts at calls, she finally reached out to airport security who was trained on how to respond to human trafficking. They agreed that her suspicions were sound and sprung into action.

Moving beyond the front lines means engaging a previously untapped sector of the travel industry by providing specialized training in how to identify and stop human trafficking for travel management professionals, corporate travel managers, and those in the meeting and events industry.

Today, ECPAT-USA is proud to launch Preventing & Responding to Human Trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children - An E-Learning by ECPAT-USA complete with free tools and resources to help companies combat trafficking and inform suppliers and clients of their commitment.

For decades, the travel industry has been used by traffickers to their own advantage. This training means it will be harder for traffickers to go unnoticed with more sectors of the travel industry involved in identifying and responding to the trafficking of children. Through our partnerships with major hotels and airlines - and now travel industry professionals - we are able to move beyond the front lines and take concrete steps toward ending child sex trafficking.

To access the training visit:

To access all ECPAT-USA’s resources for travel professionals visit:

To donate and support ECPAT-USA’s mission protect every child’s human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking visit:

One Travel Professional’s Experience Is An Important Reminder Of Vulnerability Of Homeless Youth

By Michelle Guelbart and Emily Becker


Dawn Rasmussen, an Oregon-based resume writer and career management coach, cited the training she received from Meeting Professionals International (MPI), an ECPAT-USA partner as the vehicle that gave her the confidence to intervene in a recent situation that could have turned into a trafficking scenario.

Dawn had been kayaking at an Oregon state park, in a rural area, and was returning to her car when she noticed a young woman walking around the nearly empty parking lot. She had a number of bags with her, and clearly, none of the cars in the lot belonged to her. The girl wandered close to the MPI member, who asked her if she needed anything. When the young woman responded she was waiting for someone, Dawn said that’s when alarm bells started going off.

Instead of continuing about her day, Dawn, enlisted the help of two other women who had arrived at the park to talk with the girl while she called the police. In a Facebook post, Dawn referred to the group as a “small covey of guardian angels.” On a phone call with ECPAT-USA she noted that the series of events—receiving training, seeing the girl, enlisting the support of equally concerned women—didn’t feel like a coincidence. Dawn told ECPAT-USA that she felt like “an instrument,” like she was put in the situation.

The women noticed inconsistencies in her story, an indicator cited in ECPAT-USA training. They learned that she had just run away from home, and while she said she was 22, she seemed much younger. Initially she said that she was waiting for her brother. Then she said she was waiting for a friend of her brother’s.

At this point, over an hour had passed and no one had come to pick up the young woman. The three women, who have stayed in touch since the incident, decided together that they would wait with the girl until the police arrived and hoped that the officers would be able to get the young woman the resources she needed.


Runaway and homeless youth are a population that is especially vulnerable to traffickers in the U.S. Isolated and lacking basic needs such as food and shelter, homeless youth are prone to coercion tactics used by traffickers. A study in 2013 conducted by Covenant House, an organization that serves homeless youth, homeless teens in NYC who were survivors of sex trafficking said a lack of a safe place to sleep had been their number one concern when they had been drawn into commercial sexual exploitation.

Our corporate training programs help to teach members of the hotel and travel industry the signs of and how to best respond to instances of child sex trafficking. With these tools, individuals are better equipped with how to respond when, like Dawn, they see something that causes their “alarm bells” to go off and help protect other kids from exploitation.

To learn more about how your company can train associates to help end child sex trafficking click here, and to learn more about our youth program that helps empower students to become leaders and advocates in their community, click here.

To schedule a time to speak with ECPAT-USA or Dawn, contact Michelle Guelbart at

ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement, Michelle Guelbart, invited Dawn to tell her story at an ECPAT-USA session during Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Indianapolis on Monday, June 4 from 1:15 PM - 2:15 PM.


Hospitality Industry Human Trafficking Awareness Training to Be More Comprehensive and Global

By: Nicole Walker & Michelle Guelbart

ECPAT-USA and Marriott International, in collaboration with Polaris and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), are excited to announce updates to the current American Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Institute (AHLEI) e-learning module that is used to train hospitality industry front-line employees.

The travel and tourism industry is in a unique position to identify victims because traffickers move across cities and countries using air and ground transportation companies. Hotels often serve as venues for exploitation, without the knowledge of owners. In addition, hotel employees may be victims of labor trafficking.

ECPAT-USA is working to get training to every hospitality employee, no matter what hotel property or brand they work for, because human trafficking can happen at any hotel. When employees are trained, they can better respond to situations of human trafficking and ensure safety.

The training update, entitled Your Role in Preventing Human Trafficking: Recognize the Signs, was created by ECPAT-USA in collaboration with Marriott, with input from Polaris, and is being re-launched through AH&LA EI. Within the hospitality industry there has been an increased global demand for brands all over the world to expand training on human trafficking. The newly updated training will:

  • Cover all forms of human trafficking

  • Include information on sex and labor trafficking, to give a more complete picture of human trafficking in general.

  • Include information about not only children, but also adults who may be victims of human trafficking within the hospitality industry.

  • A globalization of the training – so that it can be used all around the world at hotel properties outside of the U.S.; available in 15 languages.

  • Be compliant with many new city ordinances and state laws requiring hotels to train on human trafficking.

  • Offered complimentary to academic institutions.

“We are so excited that the update not only broadens training to include both labor and sex trafficking but it is also now relevant on a global level, said Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement at ECPAT-USA. “The hospitality industry has made such headway in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and we know that with this re-launch, we will see even more progress.

The new module was adapted from a partnership between ECPAT-USA and AHLEIto raise awareness about the role hospitality employees have in identifying and responding to child sex trafficking, which was launched in 2014. The program was widely licensed by hospitality brands, who we anticipate will switch over to the expanded and globalized update.

About 40% of all hotel properties in the U.S. currently have access to ECPAT-USA’s training. Through the new training, ECPAT-USA hopes to reach even more hotel employees – making hotel stays safer for everyone involved.

To view the AH&LA EI press release on the relaunch, click here.

To access the module, which can be purchased by property or licensed with AHLEI, click here.

To learn more about ECPAT-USA’s work with the travel industry to combat child sexual exploitation and trafficking click here.