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January 16, 2019

Hotel companies step up to fight human trafficking

Hotel companies around the world are becoming more and more aware of the ways in which traffickers are taking advantage of their business – and they’re taking action. Traffickers may use unwitting hotels as a venue for commercial sex, or force people to work against their will within a hotel’s supply chain, to conduct their illicit businesses. Several companies have already taken a proactive approach to fight human trafficking by working with organizations like Polaris, to create training for staff so they can be equipped with the tools to recognize and respond to sex or labor trafficking occurring on hotel properties. Beyond training, hotel companies and associations are also taking leading roles in advocating for anti-trafficking legislation at all levels of government.

And some companies aren’t stopping there, a couple of hotel companies are taking their efforts to the next level and leveraging their services to assist survivors after they have left their trafficking situation. It is absolutely critical to give survivors access to the support and services they need, no matter where they are on their journey to recovery and rebuilding their freedom.

Our partners at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts have created a program where customers can donate unused Wyndham Rewards Points to Polaris so we can use them on the National Human Trafficking Hotline for victims and survivors in need of emergency shelter.

After rolling out required human trafficking awareness training globally for all 700,000+ on-property employees in early 2017, Marriott International is now creating a program with the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery that aims to prepare trafficking survivors for careers in the hospitality industry. Job readiness efforts like these are vital because a lack of support and opportunity for self-sufficiency could result in survivors ending up back in situations of exploitation.

More progress

What’s more, our partners at Marriott have decided to go even further to combat this crime. In an unprecedented move, Marriott teamed up with Polaris to create trafficking awareness posters and signs for public-facing areas. This is the first time a major hotel company has embarked on a collaboration focused on building public awareness through trafficking signage and posters.

Together, we are working to create signs that will list potential red flags that could indicate a human trafficking situation may be occurring and how to contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline if someone should recognize those signs.

Why is this so important?

Information is power. Educating hotel staff is an important step, but what about the guests? Hotel guests are also in a position to recognize and report potential trafficking situations, or guests may be trafficking victims and survivors themselves. One of the key recommendations from Polaris’s recent report is for hotels and motels to publicly post the National Human Trafficking Hotline number on hotel properties. 

Marriott’s posters will also list red flags of potential human trafficking situations. Not only will this help educate guests, but these indicators may also help victims and survivors come closer to realizing they are experiencing exploitation. Often, the control tactics employed by traffickers are so coercive that trafficking victims may feel like it’s impossible to leave their situation, or may not even realize that they are being victimized in the first place. Posting these signs and including these indicators may be a way for a potential victim to realize that someone may be taking advantage of them, and that there is a resource out there for them to help when they are ready to leave.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and this year we’d like to encourage more hotel companies to take initiative and spread awareness about trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and that there is help available for victims and survivors who want it. 

Stay informed! If you’d like to help make an impact on the lives of human trafficking victims and survivors join our Grassroots Network.

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