On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons Tuesday, more than 25,000 U.S. hotels are joining a campaign to prevent trafficking in hotels.
There were more than 3,300 cases of trafficking in hotels over a 10-year period — a number anti-trafficking agencies say doesn't represent the full scope of the problem.
“I'd go and I'd rent these rooms in very, very revealing clothing,” one victim of trafficking told News4.
She said it was as if she was invisible as she was shuttled from one hotel to another.
“Like, you pass valet, you pass the concierge desk, you pass the maids in the hallway, and nobody says anything,” she said. “It leaves you to wonder, like, do they care?”
“Sometimes it's difficult to face ugly things, recognize them and be willing to deal with them, and we as an industry are now at that point where we're willing to deal with it,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).
The hotel industry is well aware they play a major role in human trafficking, Rogers said.
“Up until recently, I don't think we were communicating collectively, not just as our individual industry is concerned, but really collectively as far as any industry is concerned,” he said.
AHLA is launching a new industry-wide campaign called "No Room for Trafficking."
“And also making sure it's a uniform effort, that there isn't just one organization doing it exactly the right way and another organization only doing it half way,” Rogers said. “We want to make sure that everyone is engaged and we're solving the problem.”
Some hotel chains, like Marriott, already train employees on how to spot traffickers.
AHLA’s goal is to make sure that all of its 25,000 members, which includes large and small hotel chains, have the same access to resources.
“No Room for Trafficking” includes training on how to intervene between a trafficker and victim, how to connect with law enforcement to report a crime, and how to provide support to the victim.
“If you see on my button where it says ‘NO,’ that's the big word,” Rogers said. “No room. Like, there won't be a hotel where you can go to as a trafficker and feel comfortable. That is our ultimate goal for making sure that we're doing our part.”