EP #14 – Human Trafficking and how to Recognize the Signs at your Property

Audrey Roofeh joins the Hospitality Academy Podcast to talk about human trafficking signs and why it's important anyone in the hospitality industry to know them.Did you know that in 2014 the most popular venue for human trafficking was hotels and motels? It’s true, and it’s one of the reasons to know the signs of human trafficking. Here to share her expert advice on the matter is Audrey Roofeh of Polaris Project, an organization devoted to ending human trafficking and supporting its victims.

Audrey is the Director of Advisory Services for Polaris. In that role she leads a team and advises state and local governments on the implementation of anti­trafficking laws. She and her team also collaborate with the public and work with the private sector to identify, respond to and eventually stop human trafficking throughout the United States.

On today’s episode of the Hospitality Academy Podcast Audrey talks about the many forms of human trafficking, signs to look for to know whether someone is a victim, and what to do if you think it’s happening in your establishment.

Essential Learning Points From This Show:

  • Why you need a policy in place before human trafficking happens in your business.
  • Is human trafficking more prevalent in one particular part of the US?
  • What are the top five states where this is reported?
  • Is human trafficking more likely during certain times of the year?
  • What are the best resources to find out more about this?
  • And so much more!

Human trafficking has many forms. The one you’re probably most familiar with is sex trafficking. And there are several types of sex trafficking such as young people – under 18 – who are being forced into commercial sex or are trading sex for anything of value.

Adults fall into this category when they are being forced, coerced or threatened into having sex. One final form of human trafficking is labor trafficking: when an adult is forced to work for far less than they were promised, or coerced, threatened or forced to work with no option to leave.

All of these  exist in the United States today, and are happening in hotels and motels around the country.

So how do you know if any of this is happening in your workplace? And what do you do about it if it is? The signs to watch out for will be seen by different teams of staff so it’s important everyone in the company is aware of the different signs.

A hotelier should be on the lookout for things like someone under 18 who doesn’t have access to his or her own identification or money and is dressed inappropriately for the weather (shorts or skirts in winter, both men and women are victims of human trafficking), and seems to be controlled by an adult. Their movements and communication are restricted by the older adult.

Also watch for bed linens being requested to be changed frequently, and the mini bar needing to be requested often. Adult video rentals while children are present is another red flag to look out for by the hotelier or anyone else on staff.

The front desk can be watchful of someone paying in cash or pre-paid cards for everything, requesting a room overlooking the parking lot, asking about adult services in the area and excessive foot traffic in and out of the room.

Obviously one or two of these signs by themselves will not necessarily be a symptom of human trafficking so it’s important to know what other departments are seeing so you can put all the pieces together and report the people if you suspect human trafficking.

On today’s episode Audrey explains what to do if you suspect trafficking, how to prepare ahead of time so you have a plan in place if/when this happens on your watch, and a real-life example of a hotel owner in New Orleans who had human trafficking charges brought against him. This is a much-needed and important discussion on this show, be sure to tune in and find out more.

[ctt title=”“The top venue in 2014 for sex trafficking was hotels and motels.” – Audrey Roofeh” tweet=”“The top venue in 2014 for sex trafficking was hotels and motels.” @Polaris_Project @SusanPannozzo” coverup=”U0uV3″]

Important Links & Mentions From This Episode:

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