Trafficking Awareness for Hotel Employees

  • Cash Payments
  • Periodic Visitors
  • Lack of Voice
  • Lack of Agency
  • Long Work Hours

Human trafficking takes place in cities across the United States and most often takes the form of forced sex work or unpaid labor. The Huffington Post explains that the anonymity of hotels makes them a nexus for traffickers looking to escape detection. Cash payment and the ease of coming and going make it difficult for victims to be tracked once they are no longer at the hotel. Other hotel trafficking incidents involve contracting companies that employ illegal and immoral labor practices, forcing cleaning or kitchen staff to turn over their wages. It is vital for employees to recognize the signs of potential trafficking.

1. Cash Payment

While paying in cash is not necessarily a sign of illegal behavior, it can be an indicator of trafficking if it is observed along with other suspicious activity. A guest who pays with cash for one day at a time and requests a room overlooking the parking lot, for instance, could be traveling with a victim. Anytime a guest pays in cash, employees should remain vigilant for other warning signs.

2. Periodic Visitors

Front desk employees are in a prime position to notice the frequency of visitors to a room. A continual stream of different visitors, an hour or so apart from one another, is a clear red flag for sex trafficking. Hotels can implement a policy that all guests returning to the hotel at night must go through the front desk, reducing the ability of traffickers to filter buyers into a room unnoticed.

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3. Lack of Voice

Oftentimes, victims of sex trafficking have little knowledge of where they are coming from or what their next destination will be. When checking guests in, employees should direct questions to all members of the party, especially children. Guests who cannot answer basic questions about their destination or the nature of their trip may be victims of human trafficking.

4. Lack of Agency

Victims are usually watched closely by traffickers and are denied access to money, cell phones, or other items that may allow them to alert others of their condition. Anytime a guest is holding the money, phone, and ID documents for their companion, there may be an issue. A further indicator that someone is being held against their will may be a disconnected or removed phone line in their hotel room. Employees should remain aware of any signs that a guest is not free to communicate with the outside world. In situations that involve children, employees are encouraged to contact authorities as soon as possible.

5. Long Work Hours

In some cases, hotel cleaning, kitchen, or maintenance employees may be victims of trafficking. While guests are sometimes in a better position to spot these warning signs, other hotel employees can also remain aware of labor practices in different hotel departments. Cleaning or maintenance employees who seem to work long hours without breaks is a sign of trafficking or wage theft. Employment contractors who insist on distributing employee wages themselves are another indicator that there may be trafficking victims working in a hotel. Hotels should be able to pay all employees directly; if this is not happening, there is room for abuse.

Unfortunately, much of the trafficking that takes place in hotels has gone unnoticed in the past. Well-trained and alert employees can be a part of ending human trafficking in their workplace.

Source: Huffington Post