ECPAT-USA, part of a global organization focused on ending labor and sex trafficking, is aiming to have 20,000 meetings and hospitality industry members take its online training course by next year.
Preventing & Responding To Human Trafficking And The Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of Children is an online course that costs $30, all of which goes toward the organization’s programs advocating for exploited children, promoting corporate responsibility, educating the public about trafficking, and empowering youth (the main targets of such activity) to take the lead against human trafficking. The course takes roughly 25 minutes in the form of a slide show that users can complete at their own pace. While some meeting planners might already know how to respond to a possible trafficking incident (see refresher guide below), the most useful part of the course may be the practical tools available to influence other companies and professionals in the chain of event planning. Meeting planners are in contact with many suppliers and venues who either don’t know or aren’t proactive about fighting trafficking; the training helps planners become outreach ambassadors to the rest of the industry.
There are tips for planners to get buy-in from their own organizations to create a trafficking policy and language suggestions to add to RFPs to force a hotel or venue to address the issues as well. Once logged into the training, users can download PDFs to give to both clients and suppliers containing information about trafficking and what can be done to prevent and report it, and there is advice for planners on approaching each group. One of the easiest ways to broach the subject with clients and suppliers is to google “trafficking” and the destination city, which will present any relevant news stories to show that it is happening and how important it is to address.
At the least, everyone on a planning team should be aware of the signs of trafficking, from a hotel room that has frequent visitors or the door opens and closes more than usual, to a possible victim who is wearing clothes inappropriate for the season or has minimal luggage or language skills.
Many traffickers believe that airlines and hotels are anonymous places where they can be safe, but there are tools to help the victims.
What to do if you suspect trafficking
- Assess the situation. What did you see?
- Report the incident. Contact emergency services/hotel manager/airport security/flight attendants. Do not attempt to resolve or investigate the situation yourself.
- Make a note of:
- Date and time of the incident
- Description of people involved— physical identifiers such as tattoos, hair color, approximate age
- Any names or nicknames you hear
- A summary of the situation and what prompted your suspicions
- Location/tracking information such as vehicle description and license plate, hotel room number, terminal and airline name, seat number on a flight.
Lastly, never approach the possible victim or trafficker. The training makes clear that getting involved in a possible trafficking situation puts you and those in the vicinity at risk, including the trafficking victim. It may also cause the trafficker to flee, making the job of law enforcement harder and preventing discovery of that victim and others.