Since 2007, over 1,400 cases of human trafficking in hotels and motels have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and Polaris’s BeFree Textline, and over 1,800 victims and survivors have been identified.
Unfortunately, traffickers all too often fly under the radar in hotels, because staff and managers do not know what signs to look for on their premises. Training employees in a variety of roles in hotels is critical, so they can be the eyes and ears of identifying potential victims in one of the most frequently documented trafficking venues.
To address just these concerns, Marriott International took a recent significant step in their efforts to combat trafficking, launching a human rights training program – focused on both sex and labor trafficking – to educate their associates around the world. Polaris provided input to an ECPAT-USA and Marriott collaboration for the training, which is being re-launched through the American Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Institute (AHLEI).
Marriott International’s commitment to training staff in a variety of roles – from the hotel lobby and security personnel to guest rooms and hotel restaurants – provides a more comprehensive safety net for identifying potential victims.
The training is already being put to good use. Prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics, hotel associates at the JW Marriott Hotel in Rio de Janeiro had to complete the new training program to ramp up for the influx of international visitors.
Our involvement in Marriott’s training program and partnership with AHLEI and ECPAT is part of our larger initiative on hotels. We provide tools for businesses to identify all forms of human trafficking, analyze risk of trafficking in supply chains, and equip the National Human Trafficking Hotline to support potential victims who reach out for help.
For instance, through our partnership with Wyndham Hotel Group, we have trained their hotel employees on signs of trafficking and continue to ensure survivors receive critical short-term shelter services through a Points for Polaris program with Wyndham.
If you believe you have identified a potential trafficking situation, it is important to assess the immediate safety and welfare of the potential victims, guests, and staff. If you have witnessed or been informed there were incidents or threats of violence, alert security and/or law enforcement. If you have the opportunity to speak with the victim alone, ask if they would like assistance and provide them the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-373-7888) or send a text to Polaris at BeFree (233733).
Photo credit: Flickr / Elizabeth Greene