What Is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is using force, fraud, or coercion to lure victims and force them into labour or sexual exploitation. Sadly, human trafficking is one of the top three most common crimes that affect the hospitality industry, which includes hotels and motels, but also business, casinos, amusement parks, cruises and other tourism-related events. Making the hospitality industry a known sector for both sex and labour trafficking activity.

If human trafficking is taking place at your property, other criminal activities such as drug dealing and credit card fraud may also be taking place. These activities often go hand in hand, and pose a serious risk to your guests, your staff, and your business.

Don’t Hesitate. Make the Call.

Encourage your staff to notify the manager on duty at your property if they see something suspicious. Don’t assume someone else will call. And don’t worry if you’re not sure that what you’re seeing is human trafficking — your job is just to make the call so law enforcement agencies can take appropriate action.

Know the Signs.

Human trafficking can happen any time of the day, any day of the week. Keep your eyes and ears open while on duty. You can watch for the following situations that may suggest human trafficking is taking place, and help to make your property unattractive to people who commit these acts.

Front Desk:

  • A guest who refuses to leave a credit card imprint and insists on paying cash. There may be a reason they don’t want their identity known.
  • Teenage girls loitering in the lobby or hallways.
  • Guests who request a specific room that is isolated and private.
  • Local guests who want to rent a room.
  • Guests who appear secretive about their activities, or who try to conceal their activities in their room.
  • Frequent visitors who do not appear to have a reason for being in the hotel.
  • Guests who are coming and going at irregular hours.


  • Guest rooms with a lot of condoms or condom wrappers, or drugs and drug supplies such as syringes, pipes, bongs, broken light bulbs, spoons, and plastic bags.
  • High traffic to a particular guest room.
  • Guests who do not want hotel staff to enter their room. The AHLA encourages hotels to require that hotel staff access occupied guest rooms once each day.

Bar & Room Service:

  • A hospitality suite with businessmen and young girls. The men may be here for an event, convention, or meeting.
  • Ask guests who appear to be under 25 for ID in licensed areas and when delivering room service.

All Staff:

  • Two (or more) older men and teenage girls entering your property together — they could be heading to a party room.
  • Many men entering and exiting a room at regular intervals — a pimp may have arranged for men to visit a room where a child is being sexually exploited.
  • A young girl or teenager who appears withdrawn or who hides her face.

Ensure a list of non-emergency phone numbers is available at all times and call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.

Policies and Procedures to Help Prevent Human Trafficking

In addition to watching for signs, management could consider implementing and enforcing policies and procedures that:

  • Restrict unregistered persons in guest rooms between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Require visitors to use the property’s main entrance.
  • Require staff to perform daily room checks, as well as walking hallways and the building perimeter.
  • Encourage staff to make eye contact with guests and inquire about their reason for being at the property.
  • Ensure information about suspicious individuals or activities is shared with other properties in your area.

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