Meeting Mentor Magazine

September 2022

Sign Onto 'The Code’

Industry Associations Rally Members
To Combat Sex Trafficking

Momentum is building in the travel and hospitality industries to combat sex trafficking, especially of children. (A big boost came back on May 29, when President Barack Obama signed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.)

The GBTA Foundation announced at the Global Business Travel Association’s 2015 convention that it was joining with anti-trafficking policy organization ECPAT to fight sex tourism. It signed onto ECPAT’s Code of Conduct, and more than 1,000 delegates pledged their support by signing a board on site and responding through Twitter and email. GBTA chapters helped drive this initiative, with three already signatories of the code: Chicago BTA, Los Angeles BTA, and St. Louis BTA.

This is a long-term commitment by the GBTA Foundation. The program aims to get members to sign the code and encourage others to do so. The partnership provides education, training and buyer and supplier advice, and future content will include webinars and advice to chapters. An online toolkit encompasses what child sex tourism is; the ECPAT Code of Conduct; how travel buyers and meeting planners can help; sample language and questions for requests for proposal; and a list of current signatories.

What to put in RFPs (from ECPAT-USA):
• Are you aware of the growing problem in the U.S. of the trafficking of women and children and the use of hotels for this criminal activity?
• Does your company have a policy against human trafficking?
• Does your hotel train employees to identify and report suspicious instances?
• Has your company signed onto the ECPAT-USA Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct?

“GBTA is the kind of association that wants meaningful action on this issue,” said Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement at ECPAT-USA. “Our hope is that training to prevent and identify child sex trafficking becomes standard within the hospitality industry.”

Earlier this year, the American Hotel & Lodging Association issued a set of Hotel Industry Principles for properties to follow in combatting human trafficking. The principles charge every hotel company and property to:
— Educate employees to recognize and report instances of trafficking around hotel properties.
— Establish policies and procedures for reporting suspected instances of trafficking.
— Encourage companies and business partners in the hotel industry to join the fight against trafficking.
— Collaborate with companies that are already fighting trafficking.
— Work with law enforcement and policymakers to integrate anti-trafficking initiatives into a society-wide effort.

“It is especially important for all members of the travel industry to be cognizant of the unique intersection of travel and trafficking networks,” said Craig Kalkut, AH&LA’s vice president of government affairs. “Though hotels have long taken this seriously, we’re encouraging them to do even more.”

With ECPAT, AH&LA has developed an online training program for hotel employees, and promoted other programs, including one by the O’Connor Institute in Arizona. It’s put on webinars for members and “actively seeks opportunities to promote awareness of the issue,” Kalkut added.

Viral video. The YouTube public service announcement (PSA) “Does Your Hotel Know?” from ECPAT-USA has received more than 200,000 views. It calls on hotels and travelers to learn the signs of sex trafficking and take action to help victims — including children.  “This is really making an impact on understanding what’s happening in the U.S.,” said Carol Smolenski, ECPAT-USA executive director. — Maxine Golding

Free Subscription to
MeetingMentor Online


About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

Design by: Loewy Design