Sometimes it’s tough for former event prof Debi Tengler, now national relations officer at Arrow Child & Family Ministries in Houston, to reveal the harsh realities of how the convention and meetings business contributes to human trafficking, specifically the trafficking of children. It’s a horrifying topic, but one that needs to be addressed by the events industry. Tengler gives actionable ways event managers can help combat this national crisis.
1. Urge hotels to sign The Code.
The Code is an initiative led by the travel and tourism industry that provides awareness, tools and support to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. According to The Code, child sex tourism often takes place in hotels. Brands such as Carlson, AccorHotels, Hilton and Melia have already signed up. If the venue you’re working with won’t sign The Code, don’t book.
2. Add an RFP line item.
Proactive planners can put a request in their RFP that the hotel they’re booking eliminate pornography channels from guest rooms during the group’s stay. Studies and reports show porn desensitizes viewers and leads to attendees being more likely to hire sex trafficking victims. Marriott, Omni, IHG and Hilton have already made moves to phase out porn from in-room entertainment.
3. Download TraffickCam.
TraffickCam, a free app developed by an organization that fights sex trafficking, allows travelers to snap four photos of their hotel room and upload it to a database. The watchdogs on the other end compare the snapshots to the images sex traffickers post of their victims online to attract business. Once a match is found and a location is identified, police are able to go in and rescue the victims from their captors.