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Marriott launches attack on human trafficking with training and awareness

By Lila Nolan, Staff Writer

On Feb. 20, 2023, Marriott International’s President and CEO sat down with Yahoo Live to discuss how they’ve spearheaded a movement on one of the largest social issues within the hotel industry. 

“Human trafficking is a big focus in the company and it’s a personal passion for me and my family,” Marriott International CEO and President Anthony Capuano said. “Human trafficking is a scourge on humanity, and unfortunately, a lot of it happens using hotels as an environment.” 

Marriott International first introduced the initiative and their human trafficking awareness programs to customers and competitors alike in 2016. The services included training information and modules on how their employees should be able to identify the potential warning signs, safely monitor situations and know when to act or report on the events while attending to victims. 

“I am happy to hear that Marriott is taking another step forward to combat what is truly a worldwide problem. I love the fact that hotels are starting to take initiative to make people feel safe and even save lives,” graduate student Cassie Zangerle said. “I do feel that it should have come a bit sooner, but I believe that it’s a step in the right direction and other hotels should take note.” 

Since the launch, Mariott has also teamed up with two leading nonprofits that specialize in combating human trafficking and updated their training to coincide with today’s world. Along with End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism-USA (ECPAT-USA) and Polaris, Marriott International has updated their original training programs to better equip employees in most common situations. The main focus is to protect the guests, associates, and survivors when using the worldwide hotel lodging system they are entitled to. 

“Training plays a critical role in prevention efforts, and we are extremely grateful for Marriott’s generosity to provide these innovative human trafficking awareness training for free,” President & CEO of American Hotel & Lodging Association Chip Rogers said. “As of this year, we have already been able to train a million hotel workers since the original training was launched for free in 2020, and these new trainings will continue to help us get closer to our goal of training every hotel employee.”

According to the International Labour Organization’s most recent reports, human trafficking generates about $150 billion dollars a year in global profits with an estimated 26.6 million worldwide victims at any given time. Human trafficking incidents have risen 12 percent over the last five years and recent reports suggest it will continue to increase. The various ways of human trafficking have become merely untraceable in today’s technological world, so the warning signs are crucial. 

“It’s definitely reassuring that they’re hearing concerns and acting on them, whether those are concerns that executives shared with each other or loyal patrons have come forward with, you know? To know that the staff is trained to look for signs and know how to intervene is a plus because I don’t feel so on my own when I travel,” senior broadcasting major Kerry Cullen said. “I won’t exactly let my guard down when traveling, but it’s nice to know that someone or even the whole staff is watching my back. I don’t believe it’s an unconscious worry but a natural reflex.” 

Human trafficking is not a new issue in the United States hotel and lodging industry. Polaris found that the growth in human trafficking can directly be tied into the larger and underlying societal problems that put individuals at risk. Issues like poverty, discrimination, mental health crises and racism have all increased. The pandemic served as a contributor to most of the issues and made those struggling individuals more vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking. 

“For years the industry had an unofficial ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ style policy that didn’t necessarily encourage the bad behavior but certainly didn’t help to stop it. I am happy to hear that we are moving forward and building further protections for the potential victims of terrible crimes,” senior psychology major Mitch Merida said. “Yes, all of this proposed training sounds like a step in the right direction, but I’m not sure what else could be done without overwhelming local law enforcement or infringing on the guests themselves.” 

The sheer volume of human trafficking and the fear built from it has suggested that the solutions to it are as wide-ranging as the problems. They pose a society-wide effort for change and require immediate action. 

“As an industry that cares deeply about human rights and the horrible crime of human trafficking, we have a real responsibility to address this issue in a meaningful way,” Capuano said. “The updated training empowers a global workforce that stands ready to recognize and respond to human trafficking and allows our company to live up to our core values.” This most recent installation of Marriott International’s human trafficking training is the latest outlet of the company’s “Doing Good in Every Direction” initiative aimed at social change. If you want more information and are interested in how you can make a change, visit

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