By Paul Schlienz 

Not in our house! 

This is what hotels throughout the U.S. are telling human traffickers. 

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.  

The latest example of a hospitality industry initiative to combat this scourge is a partnership between Marriott International and anti-child trafficking policy organization ECPAT-USA to prevent human trafficking and exploitation. The decision comes at the tail end of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, including Marriott’s agreement to sign ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, otherwise known as The Code. 

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The Code is an industry-driven tourism initiative designed to expand awareness about human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and the program also provides tools and support within the hospitality industry to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. 

As a member of The Code and its efforts to end child sex trafficking, Marriott International will implement the following criteria:  

  • Establish a corporate policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children; 
  • Train employees in children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases; 
  • Include a clause in further partner contracts stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children; 
  • Provide information to travelers on children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and how to report suspected cases; 
  • Support, collaborate and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children; and 
  • Report annually on the company’s implementation of Code-related activities. 

In addition to Marriott, current members of The Code include Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, AccorHotels, Real Hospitality Group, Sonesta International Hotels Group and Wyndham Worldwide. 

While hotels everywhere are eager to end this abuse of human beings on their premises, staff are, unfortunately, not always educated on recognizing and reporting signs of human trafficking and forced labor. 

 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 occuring.

  • 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. 

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

To further this goal, Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST) and the Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation (WHAEF) have formed a partnership, in 2017, to raise awareness of human trafficking within the hospitality industry. 

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

Please contact the Hospitality Education Foundation for Training for your establishment.