Eye on Hospitality: How Hotels Can Combat Forced Labor

Eye on Hospitality: How Hotels Can Combat Forced Labor

By Paul Schlienz

Forced labor. It’s an ugly thing, and unfortunately, it still exists in our society in the form of sexual slavery made possible by human trafficking.

The hospitality industry is taking a strong stand against forced labor because human traffickers have a history of exploiting of the privacy and anonymity of hotels and motels. Unfortunately, staff are not always educated on recognizing and reporting signs of human trafficking and forced labor.

We, at the Washington Hospitality Association, want to change that and drive forced labor and the criminals who profit from it out of our hotels and motels once and for all.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has some helpful tips that enable hotel and motel staff members to spot tell-tale signs of forced labor. Among the indications that human trafficking and forced labor may be occurring on your premises:

  • Individuals are showing signs of malnourishment, poor hygiene, fatigue, sleep deprivation, untreated illness, injuries, and/or unusual behavior;
  • Individuals lack freedom of movement or are constantly monitored;
  • Individuals have no control over or possession of money or ID;
  • Individuals dress inappropriately for their age or have lower quality clothing compared to others in their party;
  • A guest requests room or housekeeping services, but denies staff entry into room;
  • Multiple computers, cell phones, pagers, credit card swipers or other technology in a guest’s room;
  • A guest has an extended stay with few or no personal possessions;
  • Excessive amounts of sex paraphernalia in rooms;
  • One person reserves multiple rooms;
  • Rooms are rented hourly, less than a day or for long-term stay that does not appear normal;
  • Individuals are selling items to or begging from patrons or staff;
  • A car is regularly parked backward, so the license plate is not visible;
  • Individuals are loitering and soliciting male patrons, especially in a hotel restaurant or bar;
  • Individuals waiting at a table or bar are picked up by a male;
  • Individuals are asking staff or patrons for food or money;
  • Individuals are taking cash or receipts left on tables in a hotel restaurant or bar.

To anyone who would attempt to use our hotels for human trafficking and forced labor, our response is clear and uncompromising: Not in our house!

To bring this important issue to the forefront, the Washington Hospitality Association will welcome Rani Hong to its Lodging Convention, Oct. 22-24, at the Tulalip Resort Casino. Rani is a survivor of child trafficking and co-founder of the Tronie Foundation, an organization that is causing a global shift in consciousness and behavior by exposing the human cost of slavery. The foundation’s primary goal is to mentor survivors of slavery, both to become leaders and to work together with global leaders in the movement to end human trafficking.

During her compelling presentation, at the culmination of our convention, on Oct 24, Rani will invite members of our industry to pledge that they will not allow forced labor on the premises of their hotels or in any other way within their organizations.

We urge our members to attend, get educated and get committed to this battle. Ending forced labor starts with you.

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