Human Trafficking Update

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human trafficking
The meetings industry is key to front-line defense efforts to fight human trafficking.

Here’s the latest on how the hospitality and meeting industries are working to grow awareness and train personnel to put an end to  human trafficking.

Though meeting planners might not understand what human trafficking has to do with them, there is a clear connection between business travel and meetings and trafficking—in fact, the meetings industry is key to front-line defense efforts. Here are some of the latest efforts to fight trafficking:

AHLA Steps It Up Before Super Bowl

In late January, American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Chip Rogers hosted a panel at the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s 88th Winter Meeting to explore the coordination between the hotel industry and mayors to combat trafficking in cities across the country. AHLA’s No Room for Trafficking campaign offers training for hotel employees to spot the signs of trafficking. The association also partnered with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association on a half-day Summit and training in Miami ahead of Super Bowl LIV (the event that attracts the highest incidence of trafficking in the world).

Awareness Is Not Enough

A report released by ECPAT-USA, the major organization in the US behind the fight against trafficking, “Stamping Out Exploitation in Travel,” found that, of 70 travel-related companies that promote awareness around trafficking in segments ranging from airlines to conference/meeting management companies, just 43 percent conducted employee training in the past 12 months. ECPAT offers an E-Learning module for hospitality professionals right on its web site.

Signing The Code & 20BY20

Companies to recently sign ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (“The Code”) include World Travel, Inc., Ultimate Ventures and Explore St. Louis. A list of all companies in our industry who have signed the Code can be found here. In addition, PRA and Soundings Connect, a talent marketplace in the meetings industry, committed to 20BY20, a year-long campaign with a goal of training 20,000 business events professionals by the end of 2020 to help combat and end global human trafficking.

Prevue is also an ECPAT-USA Business Events Advocate; see here for the full list.

Canadian Efforts

In Canada, Sandy Biback, founder of Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT) has made huge strides, including delivering educational workshops and speeches to more than 2,000 people in the hospitality, meeting and events, and travel industry; presenting to more than 1,000 students of hospitality in colleges throughout Ontario; participating in the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women’s “Collaborating to Tackle Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery” panel; and developing alliances with several global trafficking groups, including the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.