Hitesh (HP) Patel
AAHOA Chairman (2018-2019)
As every hotelier knows, great guest accommodation is the foundation of their business. Regardless of the brand, location, or size of the hotel, guests generally expect the same treatment wherever they choose to stay. This includes a welcoming environment, comfort, and of course, a certain level of privacy. Unfortunately, this anonymity can appeal to individuals with something to hide, such as human traffickers who try to travel from place to place under the radar.
This is a reality that is taken very seriously by everyone in the hospitality industry, and hoteliers are in a unique position to make a real change. The challenge for many hoteliers is how to accomplish this without sacrificing guest privacy. The key is having well-informed and appropriately trained staff who can identify potential trafficking situations. All hotel owners and managers should make human trafficking awareness training a priority for staff, and it is easier than ever to provide.
Through AAHOA’s partnership with the anti-trafficking group, Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), AAHOA members and their staff have full access to BEST’s free online training course. Employees will be given the tools and resources they need to identify situations that could be an instance of trafficking. The education gained from this training is invaluable. Trainees will learn about trafficking situation indicators, as well as techniques to keep themselves, other staff, guests, and the victims safe from harm.
AAHOA understands the importance of widespread participation in this training and, in honor of January being Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we will host training events across the country for hoteliers and their employees. Participants will take part in the comprehensive BEST training at no cost to keep their businesses and communities safe. To date, more than 1,500 hoteliers and staff have been trained through AAHOA, and our goal is to make sure the whole of our industry is an asset in the fight against human trafficking.
While educated employees are the first and most important line of defense against human traffickers, more needs to be done nationally. This year AAHOA is determined to raise awareness of this issue among community leaders and work hand in hand with local law enforcement to take on traffickers, without waiting for them to strike.
On the state and federal levels, AAHOA’s advocacy team is collaborating actively with lawmakers to discuss the importance of uniformity in city and state wide training requirements and how private businesses can work with the public sector to combat the spread of trafficking. The only way the victimization of men, women, and children can be ended is if we work together to share resources and unite in the push to end modern-day slavery.