Marriott, ECPAT-USA partner to counter human trafficking in hotels

Marriott International and anti-child trafficking policy organization ECPAT-USA are entering into a new partnership to prevent human trafficking and exploitation. The decision comes at the tail end of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and includes Marriott’s agreement to sign ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, otherwise known as The Code.

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.

“Everyone has a role in fighting human trafficking and preventing child sexual exploitation,” David Rodriguez, EVP and global chief human resources officer at Marriott International, said in a statement. “At Marriott International, we are training all of our associates on how to identify the indicators of human trafficking and partnering with ECPAT-USA and the broader industry to stop this crime from landing at our front doors and in our communities.”

“We are honored to partner with Marriott International to fight child sex trafficking and exploitation in all forms,” Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA, said in a statement. “With ECPAT-USA's policies and training in place, Marriott's associates will be able to identify and report potential cases of trafficking and bring protection to victims. As an iconic brand, Marriott International's deep commitment to human rights and social responsibility will generate public awareness and support for the growing movement to end child sex trafficking."

ECPAT-USA’s partnership with Marriott is the most recent collaboration between the two organizations, which in 2011 co-developed training tools to recognize the indicators of human trafficking. ECPAT-USA also recently partnered with the American Hotel & Lodging Association to provide human trafficking training throughout the industry.

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

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

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

In 2017, Marriott adopted a mandatory human trafficking training requirement for its on-property workforce across more than 6,500 properties in 127 countries and territories. The company has so far trained more than 225,000 employees.

Hotel Management recently spoke with Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement at ECPAT-USA, about the greatest misconceptions surrounding human trafficking in hospitality, as well as tips for fighting back against the practice.