Travel Management Companies

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: www.ecpatusa.org/travel-elearning

To access all ECPAT-USA’s resources for travel professionals visit: www.ecpatusa.org/resources-for-travel-professionals

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: www.ecpatusa.org/donate

Cadence Travel Combats Child Sex Trafficking with ECPAT-USA and The Code

In 2017, Cadence Travel partnered with ECPAT-USA and joined The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) and implemented a policy against child sex trafficking. The Code is an industry-driven initiative to provide awareness, tools, and support to the private sector to help combat the sexual exploitation of children.

Cadence’s policy states a zero-tolerance for child sex trafficking, instructs their associates what to do if they suspect instances of trafficking, and also addresses labor trafficking. Cadence began training their staff to recognize and report suspected instances of trafficking in early 2018.

“We have always been compelled to give back to our communities, both locally and globally,” Cadence CEO and Founder Wendy Burk said. “As a leader in the travel industry, we are especially sensitive to the role that travel brands like hotels and airlines unfortunately and unwillingly play in human trafficking. We are leveraging our connections with travelers and travel partners around the world to join the global fight and raise awareness and kicked off our ECPAT partnership by raising over $23,000 for a local safe house for women rescued from trafficking in San Diego, where we are headquartered. It was disheartening to learn that our own city is among the top ten high-intensity areas for sex trafficking in America, so we knew we had to start here.”

Cadence Travel manages business travel, meetings and incentives travel, and more. By working with their partners to include child protection language in RFPs and contracts, travel management companies like Cadence can have a major impact on this issue.

“ECPAT-USA is proud to partner with Cadence Travel to raise awareness and use their influence to combat human trafficking in the travel industry,” said Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement. “They’ve hit the ground running and we are excited to continue this partnership in order to increase ECPAT-USA’s reach and protect children globally.”

ECPAT-USA partners with private sector companies in the travel and tourism industries to combat child sexual exploitation. Click here to see a full list of partners who have signed The Code.

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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.

ECPAT-USA Invites Thought Leaders in the Meeting and Events Industry to Join Committee

With the growing acknowledgement that the meeting and events and corporate travel management community are uniquely positioned to combat human trafficking, ECPAT-USA develops a high level committee to support our mission.

Sadly, victims of child sex trafficking are often abused in hotel rooms across the globe and airlines are used to transport victims or used by exploiters to travel and meet victims. One trained flight attendant or front-desk clerk can change the path of a victim’s entire life.

As an industry that is consistently communicates with travel suppliers such as hotels, airlines, buses, and ground transportation companies, meeting and events professionals can spread the word about how businesses can partner with ECPAT to combat child sex trafficking.

Industry associations across the board are getting more active about the issue, creating a demand for tools and resources that will help meeting and events/corporate travel professionals better understand the issue, share information with associates, and discuss the issue with suppliers.

The ECPAT-USA TMC Advisory Committee is a group of experts in the fields of the travel management industry, corporate sales or related areas who will lend their skills to help move ECPAT-USA’s mission forward. Advisory Committee members will provide expertise, feedback, and guidance on the development of tools and resources for the industry.

As ECPAT-USA shared in our 2017 report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, meeting and events professionals can persuade both travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and corporate travel managers to implement policies and programs to protect children.

ECPAT-USA is thrilled to welcome the following meeting and events/travel management professionals to our committee:

Beau Ballin, Sr. Director, Business Development CWT Meetings & Events, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Jen Bankard, Education Specialist, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

Mary Batal-Riley, Senior Vice President, CorpTrav

Mary Clare Darland, Manager, Sourcing, Maritz Travel

Lisa Donovan Berry, Vice President & GM, Business Travel Division, CI Azumano

Ruth L. Marion, Owner/Operator, Marion Meetings and Events

Barbara Scofidio, Editor, Prevue

Mitchell Stern, Global Category Lead - Travel, Fleet & Events, Pearson

Ann Marie Verity, General Manager, Accenture/Global Program Management, Carlson Wagonlit Travel


To learn more about how to get involved with ECPAT-USA’s work, click here.