When you’re booking a hotel, what amenities stand out to you? A pool? A non-smoking room? A king sized bed? A gym? Personally, I’m a sucker for free breakfast. Gets me every time.
I recently came across a hotel website that advertises the following amenities:
- 24-hour service
- Text message booking
- Secluded parking lot
- Anonymous check-in
- Dimly lit hallways
If this sounds a little strange to you, that’s a good thing. Toronto Police and Crime Stoppers have just launched a fake hotel website to raise awareness about sex trafficking in hotels. Hotel de Jeunesse provides information about how hotel rooms are used by traffickers to exploit victims, and offers a list of warning signs that guests and hospitality staff can keep an eye out for.
According to the Polaris Project, 1,434 cases of human trafficking in hotels and motels were reported to the U.S. National Hotline between 2007 and 2015. The trend in Canada is similar. Here’s an interview with the aunt of a trafficking 15 year-old victim who was lured from her group home in Guelph and sold in hotels all over Southwestern Ontario.
If you work in the hospitality industry and want to learn more about how to stop trafficking, here are some resources:
- Stanford Online Course (free) – Human Trafficking Awareness for the Hospitality Industry
- The Code.org – Become a member to protect children from sex tourism
While being paranoid doesn’t help anyone, it’s important for us to keep our eyes open and recognize questionable situations that could indicate someone being trafficked. The lives of victims often hang in the balance of being noticed.