AH&LA launches new campaign against human trafficking

Much of the challenges around countering human trafficking and sexual exploitation in hospitality are a result of misconceptions, so let's dispel them.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association is partnering with End Child Prostitution and Trafficking and Polaris on its No Room for Trafficking campaign. Photo credit: Gettyimages, Professor25

The American Hotel & Lodging Association launched its new national campaign around human trafficking today. Called No Room for Trafficking, it aims to train every employee in the industry in human trafficking prevention.

“This is an effort to elevate our industry’s voice in a very unified way and to continue leading on efforts to disrupt the scourge of human trafficking,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO of the AH&LA. “We believe that bringing everyone in our industry together both enhances what each of them is doing individually and it magnifies the voice, really, of what the name of the campaign is, that there is no room for trafficking.”

In coordination with its partners End Child Prostitution and Trafficking-USA and Polaris, AH&LA has developed an action plan consisting of five steps:

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  • training staff on what to look for and how to respond;
  • displaying human trafficking indicator signage;
  • establishing a companywide policy;
  • coordinating with law enforcement; and
  • sharing success stories and best practices.

The No Room for Trafficking campaign will offer a companywide antitrafficking policy template for members without one in place already. This template incorporates key elements and recommendations from ECPAT-USA and Polaris.

The AH&LA also will provide a member resource guide with information on ways to implement the action plan, including where to access training and resources, downloadable signage, strategies for working with law enforcement, ways to report instances of trafficking and how hotels can support survivors.

Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA director of private sector engagement, stressed the importance of the industry presenting a united front on the issue. “If one brand, management company or property lag, then it will do a disservice to the industry itself,” she said. “The entire industry has to say “no room,” or else traffickers will just go to the next-door hotel.”

Looking ahead

On July 30, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the AH&LA will launch a member day of action. The organization will provide hoteliers with a social media platform where they can showcase their participation in the campaign, whether it’s by hosting employee training seminars, pledging to complete the action plan or working with national prevention partners to raise awareness.

In partnership with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the AH&LA will host a series of regional events leading up to Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January 2020. The events will be designed to raise public awareness and facilitate collaboration with policymakers, law enforcement and hoteliers on best practices for policies, procedures and training.

“What’s interesting about this campaign is that unlike, I think, other campaigns where you can kind of see a start and a finish, I don’t suspect there’ll ever be a finish with this,” Rogers said. “This will be forever.”

Rogers said that, for now, the group will focus on talking with its partners and working toward training every single employee in the industry, “with no exceptions.” And though the work will never end, the AH&LA’s efforts will evolve. In “short order,” Rogers said, AH&LA will begin looking at job-specific training. “Certain jobs have different opportunities to recognize the signs of human trafficking compared to other jobs,” he said.

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