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Meetings, Business Travel, and Human Trafficking: A Benchmarking Report

A leading anti-human-trafficking organization finds wide adoption of policies within travel-focused organizations, but considerably less training on identifying and reporting suspicious activity.

A report released by ECPAT-USA at the end of September finds that many major travel-related companies and associations promote specific policies against human trafficking and exploitation of children to their employees and members—but far fewer have conducted training in the past 12 months to ensure that employees and members who travel for business can identify potential trafficking situations and report them to initiate a swift response.  

The report, titled “Stamping Out Exploitation in Travel,” covered the progress made by 60 major travel-related companies and associations who have signed on to The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, in recognition that their business is in a unique position to address human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition, 10 non-signatory organizations that state they are committed to actively addressing human trafficking participated in the benchmarking study as well. All 70 organizations operate within one of these business segments: association; airline; conference/meeting management; franchised hospitality; owned and managed hospitality; group tours; travel management; and ride-sharing.

The airline segment of the travel industry had the highest average score for being active across all four measured categories: policies & procedures; implementation & training; supplier contracts; and transparency & reporting. On the other hand, two of the three lowest-scoring industry segments were associations and conference/meeting management firms.

While 70 percent of responding organizations say they communicate a specific anti-human-trafficking policy to all their associates, just 43 percent have conducted associate training in the past 12 months on trafficking awareness and how to report potential trafficking situations while traveling. And in the franchised hospitality segment, just 20 percent of responding firms mandate any awareness and response training for their employees—something meeting and event planners could ask about during site selection for future events.

“The private sector plays a major role in ensuring that profits do not come at the expense of children. Especially in the travel and hospitality industry, there is both a great responsibility and opportunity to ensure associates have the knowledge and resources to address human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children,” said Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement for ECPAT-USA.

To educate the entire hospitality industry on how to prevent and respond to human trafficking, ECPAT-USA has created an online course and earlier in 2019, Professional Convention Management Association became the second events-industry association to sign the Code of Conduct, after the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence.

Click here to view the full “Stamping Out Exploitation in Travel” report, which includes case studies of programs operated by several participating organizations.

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