ECPAT-USA Invites Thought Leaders in the Meeting and Events Industry to Join Committee

With the growing acknowledgement that the meeting and events and corporate travel management community are uniquely positioned to combat human trafficking, ECPAT-USA develops a high level committee to support our mission.

Sadly, victims of child sex trafficking are often abused in hotel rooms across the globe and airlines are used to transport victims or used by exploiters to travel and meet victims. One trained flight attendant or front-desk clerk can change the path of a victim’s entire life.

As an industry that is consistently communicates with travel suppliers such as hotels, airlines, buses, and ground transportation companies, meeting and events professionals can spread the word about how businesses can partner with ECPAT to combat child sex trafficking.

Industry associations across the board are getting more active about the issue, creating a demand for tools and resources that will help meeting and events/corporate travel professionals better understand the issue, share information with associates, and discuss the issue with suppliers.

The ECPAT-USA TMC Advisory Committee is a group of experts in the fields of the travel management industry, corporate sales or related areas who will lend their skills to help move ECPAT-USA’s mission forward. Advisory Committee members will provide expertise, feedback, and guidance on the development of tools and resources for the industry.

As ECPAT-USA shared in our 2017 report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, meeting and events professionals can persuade both travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and corporate travel managers to implement policies and programs to protect children.

ECPAT-USA is thrilled to welcome the following meeting and events/travel management professionals to our committee:

Beau Ballin, Sr. Director, Business Development CWT Meetings & Events, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Jen Bankard, Education Specialist, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

Mary Batal-Riley, Senior Vice President, CorpTrav

Mary Clare Darland, Manager, Sourcing, Maritz Travel

Lisa Donovan Berry, Vice President & GM, Business Travel Division, CI Azumano

Ruth L. Marion, Owner/Operator, Marion Meetings and Events

Barbara Scofidio, Editor, Prevue

Mitchell Stern, Global Category Lead - Travel, Fleet & Events, Pearson

Ann Marie Verity, General Manager, Accenture/Global Program Management, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

To learn more about how to get involved with ECPAT-USA’s work, click here.

ECPAT-USA Recognizes RHG As A Tourism Hero For Being Proactive In Fight To End Trafficking

Throughout National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention, we are celebrating those who have taken a stand against sex trafficking in the tourism and hospitality industry with #TourismHeroTuesday. Every day, our private sector partners are helping to protect children around the world from exploitation.

Today, we’re recognizing Real Hospitality Group (RHG). An associate of RHG was recently working at the front desk of a hotel in New York City when they noticed a teenage boy sitting in the lobby by himself. When an hour or so later he was still there, the associate approached him and struck up a conversation. The associate learned that he had run away and had taken a bus nearly 500 miles from his home in Virginia. The associate called the police, who attended the scene, and contacted the child’s parents, and waited until both arrived to make sure the boy stayed safe.

As runaway and homeless youth are a population particularly vulnerable to traffickers, we applaud RHG for their proactive work and taking action to prevent a potential trafficking situation before it starts.

“The initiatives of ECPAT-USA have been a critical part of our corporate responsibility platform and we have continued to use our sphere of influence to educate and train our field team members to identify and help put an end to child trafficking and exploitation,” said Ben Seidel, President and CEO of RHG. “We have invested a great deal of time to develop a program that can be successfully deployed at our hotels and contributes to the goals of ECPAT-USA.”

By Presidential Proclamation, January was officially named National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention to bring awareness to that fact that there are still over 20 million people living in slavery today. Over the years, incredible progress has been made through partnerships between governments and nonprofits: laws protecting victims have been passed, offenders put in jail, the number of services have gone way up.

In the last few years, the private sector has stepped up and gotten involved in fighting trafficking, especially when it comes to child sex trafficking victims. Learn more about how your company can join us in creating a world where no child is bought sold or used for sex here.

American Airlines Joins With ECPAT-USA To Protect Children Around The World

In honor of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, ECPAT-USA is proud to announce American Airlines as the latest member of the travel and tourism industry to sign ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code). An industry-driven responsible tourism initiative, The Code provides awareness, tools and support to the industry in order to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

"The work that ECPAT does is incredibly important,” said Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. “We have half a million customers a day and our flight attendants, our pilots, [and] our agents can be real guardians and lines of defense against human trafficking and child exploitation."

Victims of trafficking are often transported via air travel to different cities and countries. As such, airline and airport employees are in a unique position to identify and prevent instances of sexual exploitation. As a member of The Code, American Airlines will implement the following six criteria, several of which are already in place at the airline, in order to end child sex trafficking:

1. Establish a corporate policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children
2. Train employees in children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases
3. Include a clause in further partner contracts stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children
4. Provide information to travelers on children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and how to report suspected cases
5. Support, collaborate and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children
6. Report annually on the company’s implementation of Code-related activities

“We have been on a decades long campaign to ensure that no child is bought, sold, or used for sex," said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. "Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we celebrate the latest and biggest success to reach our goal: the signing by American Airlines of the Code of Conduct. One of the ways we will end the sexual exploitation of children is through the commitment of far-sighted leaders like Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. American Airlines joins a family of inspiring companies making a far-reaching change to corporate culture in order to protect all our children." 




ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 93 countries. For more information, visit


American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, whose members serve more than 1,000 destinations with about 14,250 daily flights to over 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at


Gallery and Cover Photo: American Airlines

ECPAT-USA Recognizes ITMI As A Tourism Hero For Their Work In Preventing Trafficking

Throughout National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention, we are celebrating those who have taken a stand against sex trafficking in the tourism and hospitality industry with #TourismHeroTuesday. Every day, our private sector partners are helping to protect children around the world from exploitation.

Today, we’re recognizing International Tour Management Institute (ITMI). Through implementing the tools and best practices taught during their company’s training, two ITMI employees were able to identify and appropriately respond to situations of suspected child sex trafficking. While we are unable to report on the outcome of these cases, both show the important role members of the travel and tourism industry play in the fight to protect the freedom of children across the country.

We at ECPAT-USA applaud our #TourismHeroTuesday partner, ITMI for their efforts!

By Presidential Proclamation, January was officially named National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention to bring awareness to that fact that there are still over 20 million people living in slavery today. Over the years, incredible progress has been made through partnerships between governments and non-profits: laws protecting victims have been passed, offenders put in jail, the number of services have gone way up.

In the last few years, the private sector has stepped up and gotten involved in fighting trafficking, especially when it comes to child sex trafficking victims. Learn more about how your company get join us in creating a world where no child is bought sold or used for sex here.

Video | Listen to Survivors

Each year, millions of people are victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation, and every dollar of profit is fueled by someone's pain. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, where we renew our dedication to end all forms of slavery, trafficking, and exploitation. Hear the stories behind the statistics, and join us in creating a world where no child is bought, sold, or used for sex.

This video was produced by World Without Exploitation.

ECPAT-USA and The Code Announce 2017 US Top Members

The Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) recently announced their 2017 Top Member companies. Eight companies, two based in the United States, are newly-recognized as Top Members for their “exceptional work to integrate child protection practices into their businesses.” In total, twenty Top Members are based in the United States and are guided through their membership and implementation with the support of Local Code Representative, ECPAT-USA.


The Code is a set of six voluntary guidelines that travel and tourism companies implement to comprehensively and proactively combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In order for a company to be recognized as a Top Member, companies must implement all six of The Code criteria within their business operations and report publicly on TheCode.Org website.

“We are encouraged that our Top Members are committed to comprehensive policies and training that protect children,” said ECPAT-USA’s director of private sector engagement, Michelle Guelbart. “The travel industry continues to mobilize on this issue and we look forward to seeing more Code Members join these leaders in 2018.”

The 20 United States 2017 Top Members are:
Adventure Travel Trade Association (trade association)
Altruvistas (tour operator)
Caribe Royale Orlando (hotel)
Carlson (hotel brand)
CorpTrav Management (travel management)
Elevate Destinations*
EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services (ground transportation)
Envision Meetings & Incentives (meeting & events)
Hilton Worldwide (hotel brand)
Hospitality eResources (hospitality consulting)
Hyatt Hotels Corporation*
International Tour Management Institute (educational institute)
Maritz Travel (travel management)
Meaningful Trip (tour operator)
Meeting Professionals International – WA State Chapter (trade association)
Nix Conference & Meeting Management (meeting & events)
Platinum Travel & Events (meeting professionals)
Real Hospitality Group (hotel management)
Sabre (global distribution system)
Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (trade association)

* companies newly promoted to Top Member status

See all of the US Code Members and learn more about our work with companies to prevent child trafficking and exploitation.


ECPAT-USA Training Leads ITMI Tour Director To Identify Potential Trafficking Case

Sometimes you just know something is wrong. Recently, a tour director with International Tour Management Institute was traveling on a ferry in North Carolina when she noticed a family of 10. The parents seemed very young—too young to be the parents of the seven girls and one baby that they were traveling with.

What was odder still was that no one in the family was interacting with each other. No one was talking. No one was holding hands. And the girls just looked frightened. Something just seemed off, the tour director told ECPAT-USA.

Having been trained on the signs of sex trafficking through ITMI, the tour director wondered if this was one of those circumstances she had learned about. When a fellow passenger commented on the family’s behavior, she knew that something was awry. She copied the license plate and called 911, and a call later to the dispatched informed her that the family had been detained.

Since 2004, ECPAT-USA has worked with members of the travel and tourism industry to train associates to recognize and appropriately respond to suspected instances of trafficking. Through our partnerships with the private sector, we are able to give more individuals the tools to help us protect more children at home and abroad from sexual exploitation. While we cannot say conclusively that what the tour director witnessed was an instance of sex trafficking, we can say that without her training, those seven girls’ future would have been even more unclear.

To learn more about ECPAT-USA's work with private sector engagement, click here.

Protecting Child Athletes from Exploitation


In some ways, it’s every parent’s dream. We sit in bleachers for untold hours, enduring endless practices and weekends driving to competitions. But then, a trainer recognizes your daughter or son’s extraordinary abilities. And that well-known coach tells you your child has real talent and they are ready for the world-class training reserved for future Olympians. Imagine the pride, and the excitement as you start to picture your child on an Olympic podium, with the national anthem blaring and waving to you. And imagine then, the heartache and pain when something in that journey goes horrifyingly wrong.  

Last week, Senator Diane Feinstein of California led a bipartisan group of senators in passing S. 534, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sporting Act. Earlier this year, the Senate held hearings that exposed a dark part of America’s amateur athletic program. Three of our pipelines for training future Olympians—gymnastics, swimming, and Taekwondo—have been accused of covering up instances of child sexual abuse by trainers and doctors at their facilities.  


The story of Olympic Bronze Medalist, Jamie Dantzsher, is typical of the testimony the Committee received. Jamie and her family are from a middle class family in California. The parents had other mouths to feed and children to raise, but Jamie’s coaches told her parents that she had an enormous talent, and so they made the difficult financial sacrifice and time commitment to get her elite athletic training. It paid off, she made the US Junior National Team at age 12, and would be a member of the team every year up to her Olympic debut.  

And it is unsurprising in the whirlwind that followed. Parents confronting an unfamiliar world placed their trust in people who seemed experts. Whether modeling, acting or elite sports, it is hard for parents to know what is normal, what should be expected, whom to trust. And it is even harder for a 12 year old girl, suddenly thrust into the spotlight, being asked to do almost superhuman things with her body, isolated from her usual friends and family support network, to gauge what is actually happening.  

And that is precisely the space that child sexual predators of all stripes like to occupy, whether they are pimps, traffickers, trusted family members or team physicians.  

Jamie’s brave testimony explains:

It was then that I was introduced to the US National Team Physician, Dr. Larry Nassar.
What I have only recently come to understand is that the medical treatment he performed for my back pain and other in injuries was sexual assault. Dr. Nassar abused me at the USA National Training Center in Texas, he abused me in California and at meets all over the world. Worst, he abused me in my hotel room in Sydney at the Olympic Games.
When I first spoke out about my abuse at the hands of Dr. Nassar, I thought I was the only one. I was disbelieved and even criticized by the some in the Gymnastics community for bringing this disturbing issue to light.
Now I know that I am not alone. More than 100 women have come forward and shared stories that are shockingly similar to mine.

Tragically, the reaction from the amateur athletic associations followed a familiar pattern. They heard all the rumors, did nothing, and found excuses for why their hands were tied. USA Gymnastics, the governing body for the amateur gymnastics in the United States, is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. And it is largely due to the intrepid reporting of the Indianapolis Star, that these cases have come to light. A recent report by the Star recounts the reality that some of the keys to good coaching easily translate into the grooming process that we see in most forms of child sexual abuse.  

“[Q]ualities that make a coach successful—a close coach-athlete relationship, legitimate authority, blind trust and a successful reputation—can easily be exploited to groom and sexually abuse young athletes. In a study of elite female gymnasts and swimmers abused by their coaches, Gretchen Kerr and Ashley E. Stirling of the University of Toronto found several common themes: The victims equated “the power of the coach to that of a priest whose absolute knowledge is not questioned or challenged.  Many of the girls were in awe of coaches, in part because they held the key to the athletes’ potential success.  Parents deferred to coaches they believed had the expertise and access to resources to ensure their children's competitive success. Troubling behavior often gets a pass because of a coach’s winning reputation.”

It is difficult for a parent or a child to know what to do, but predators know exactly how to put themselves in a position to have access to vulnerable children. Sometimes it is in the sports world but child are exploited in many other areas as well.

Though the Star’s investigation uncovered 368 allegations of sexual abuse by young gymnasts, until recently, very little had been done. In a circumstance that echoes the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, coaches would quit and move from gym to gym keeping the allegations at bay. Furthermore, these numbers are likely the tip of an iceberg, as so many of these cases have likely gone unreported. And yet, years later, the abuse continues to impact the lives of these victims.  

But, in finding a silver lining, these shocking allegations have prompted action in Washington. The Senate-passed bill makes several important changes in law, to help protect these young, talented athletes from sexual predators.  

First, the bill amends existing Federal law, The Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990, to expand the list of entities mandated to report instances and evidence of child abuse to law enforcement.  Under Senator Feinstein’s bill amateur athletic organizations would be added to the list of “mandatory reporters” which now includes occupations like doctors and teachers.  


Secondly, the bill changes the Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act, the law that organizes U.S. Olympic participation, by requiring that all amateur athletic organizations establish a mechanism, in coordination with child abuse experts, to allow for easy reporting of sexual abuse allegations. Furthermore, the bill requires that all training facilities adopt policies to prevent minors from being left alone with non-parental adults without observation by another adult.  

This legislation marks an important first step in protecting children who are pursuing the Olympic dream. It is one of the many strands of protection that make up the safety net needed to protect children from abuse and exploitation. These kids are literally giving their last ounce of strength to make our country proud. It seems little to ask that we protect them from sexual exploitation while they do so. S. 534 passed the United States Senate unanimously, and it awaits action by the House of Representatives and signature by the President.