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SIGNATORIES: ECPAT-USA’s Michelle Guelbart; Nix’s Jane Quinn, Kimberly Ritter, and Molly Hackett; and Katie Rhoades, execu- tive director of the Healing Action Net- work.

(Trafficking) continued from page 17

ability to do something about it.” In many cases, Guelbart said, the key connection happens at a hotel. “With the use of online classified ads, child trafficking has moved off the streets and behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms,” she said. “Ameri- can youths are strategically targeted and manipulated by pimps who use hotel rooms as venues to abuse children, knowing that systems are not in place to protect the victims. Therefore, it is increasingly important to get hotels involved in this issue.”

Nix only became aware of the issue several

years ago, when the company was planning a meeting for the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph. “They asked us if we knew of hotels where they were going to have a conference, which happened to be St. Louis, that had a policy regarding trafficking,” said Nix principal Jane Quinn. “It was through their questioning of us and our RFP process that we became aware of it.” Hackett added: “There was a lot of confu-

sion. Most properties did not have a policy on human trafficking, and did not know it was

Signs of Trafficking

ECPAT-USA’s Michelle Guelbart advises planners and attendees alike to look for these signs of child sex trafficking:

 Teens traveling with little to no luggage.  Travelers who seem disoriented or unaware of their surroundings.

 A man who pays for a room in cash and escorts various men into the room; he often will stay around until they leave.

www.pcma.org

happening. … Also, when they talk about trafficking, some people think of it as labor — they think of it as documentation for their housekeeping staff.”

Nix was successful enough in its initial efforts that the property it booked for the Sisters of St. Joseph meeting — the Millen- nium Hotel St. Louis — ended up signing ECPAT’s travel and tourism code this past July. The new code for meeting planners offers guidelines to address child sex trafficking, from establishing an ethical policy, to training employees, to providing information to hotels and other vendors.

“One simple question to hotel managers

— ‘Is your staff trained on how to identify victims of human trafficking?’ — is a quick and simple way to raise awareness on the issue,” Guelbart said. “In addition, they can inquire about the human-trafficking policy of the venues in their RFPs.”

Nix now includes a standard clause in its RFP asking hotels about their policies on sex trafficking. “It was so easy to dovetail it into our own process,” Quinn said. “It wouldn’t take much on our end to have an impact.” Both ECPAT-USA and Nix would like to see more meeting planners sign the new code — and also encourage more hotels to sign the travel and tourism code. “Now that Nix has paved the way, other meeting planners can learn from the work and will not have to reinvent the wheel,” Guelbart said. “I also hope the connection meeting planners have with companies results in more signatories to the code. Awareness is already being raised with the news from Nix’s signing of the code, and I can only see the momentum growing stronger this coming year.” n

— Christopher Durso pcma convene March 2012 21 MEETOLOGY®

The Space Between

DesignBuild Source on the

“incredible influence that space and [room] design have over individual behavior, mood, and actions”: http://bit.ly/ room-design.

SOURCE: Meetology Research Institute

(www.meetology.com)

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