January is Human Trafficking Awareness & Prevention Month. What does human trafficking have to do with meeting planning? Everything. Here are four ways in which the two worlds intersect and follow this link for more information on what you can do to help:
1) Trafficking happens all the time in 4- and 5-star hotels. Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle made headlines when he was arrested for child prostitution at The Plaza in New York City. The largest-ever FBI sting led to 150 arrests in one week (and saved 150 children) in the same cities—and hotels—we all meet in.
2) Traffickers move victims across cities and countries using air and ground transportation companies. If you think you spotted something when you were on a business trip, you probably did.
3) Meeting planners can bring up the subject in casual conversation with their hotel director of sales or GM, asking what policies and procedures the hotel has in place around human trafficking. Once they realize there isn’t a big financial burden, they’re more apt to take steps. Other planners build language right into their RFPs and give preferential treatment to suppliers who educate their employees and guests.
4) Numerous associations, hotel companies and other major players in the meetings industry have signed “The Code” (the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct) in the past year, including most recently Hyatt Hotels Corp., Accor, GBTA, Site and Maritz, forging a commitment to train their employees to spot the signs of child sex slavery.
If you see anything suspicious when you are traveling, call The National Human Trafficking Hotline 24 hours/day at (888) 373-7888.