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Information for the
Hospitality Industry


Why this is important*

Often we envision trafficking happening in the developing world, and not here in the U.S. However, human rights groups estimate that around 17,000 foreign-born children are trafficked into the US every year. An estimated 100,000 children are trafficked within the U.S. every year. One recent study estimated that 1 in every 3 runaway or abandoned children are approached by a pimp or a trafficker within 48 hours of being on the street.


Traffickers and pimps often “market” trafficking victims on the Internet and sometimes use unwitting hotels and motels as a place of exploitation.  Major events that draw large numbers of tourists also often draw traffickers and victims.  


Polaris provides  this fact sheet about Human Trafficking and the Hotel Industry.


What to look for*

Identifying a person who is being exploited is not always simple. Use your instincts and power of observation. Seek to engage vulnerable looking kids and possible victims gently in conversation. If you inquire about their well being, especially apart from any other person, a trafficking victim may disclose their situation.  In addition to the general indicators on our Red Flags page, here are some


Red Flags for Hotel and Motel Employees

Hotel and motel employees are often in the best position to observe potential indicators of human trafficking, especially since their duties give them access to different areas of the properties. The following location indicators are divided into types of employees who are in the best position to identify potential victims.

Please keep in mind that the presence of just one of these indicators does not mean that human trafficking is occurring. Instead, it is important to be vigilant of situations in which you identify multiple indicators.

Front Desk, Concierge, Bellman, and Doorman
•  Individuals checking into a room appear distressed, coerced, or injured
•  Few or no personal possessions carried in small or plastic bags
•  Patrons not forthcoming about full names, home address, or vehicle information when registering
•  Patron appears with a minor that he did not come with originally
•  Individuals dropped off at the hotel or visit repeatedly over a period of time
•  Individuals checking into room have no identification
•  Patron requesting information or access to adult services or sex industry
•  Individuals selling items to or begging from patrons or staff
•  Room paid for with cash or rechargeable credit card
•  Excessive use of hotel computers for adult oriented websites
•  Minor taking on adult roles or behaving older than actual age (paying bills, requesting services)
•  Rentals of pornography when children are staying in the room
•  Minor with patron late at night or during school hours
•  Room is rented hourly, less than a day, or for long-term stay that does not appear normal
•  Room rented has fewer beds than patrons

•  Requests room overlooking parking lot

•  Excessive foot traffic in/out of hotel room

•  Guest dressed inappropriately for the climate

•  Minor accessing business center and frequenting social networking or sexually explicit websites


Restaurant and Bar
•  Patrons entertaining a minor at the bar or restaurant that he did not come in with originally
•  Patrons requesting information or access to adult services or sex industry
•  Individuals asking staff or patrons for food or money
•  Individuals exhibiting anxious or nervous behavior and avoiding eye contact with staff and other patrons
•  Individuals loitering and soliciting male customers
•  Individuals waiting at the table or bar and picked up by a male (trafficker or customer)
•  Individuals taking cash or receipts left on tables
•  Individuals do not have identification, cell phones, or money of their own


Housekeeping and Room Service
•  “Do Not Disturb” sign used constantly
•  Excessive amounts of cash in room
•  Presence of multiple computers, cell phones, pagers, credit card swipes, or other technology
•  Children’s items or clothing but no child registered with the room
•  Excessive amounts of alcohol or illegal drugs in rooms
•  Excessive number of people staying in the room
•  Provocative clothing and shoes
•  Constant flow of men to a room at all hours
•  Excessive amounts of sex paraphernalia in rooms
•  Rooms stocked with merchandise, luggage, mail packages, and purses/wallets with different names
•  Refusal of cleaning services for multiple days
•  Smell of bodily fluids and musk
•  Individuals leaving room infrequently, not at all, or at odd hours
•  Individuals hanging out in hallways or appearing to monitor the area
•  Minors left alone in room for long periods of time
•  Extended stay with few or no personal possessions
•  Men waiting in the lobby or outside of the room
•  Individuals selling items to other patrons or staff
•  Individuals begging for money or food
•  Individuals digging in hotel garbage or taking a lot of toiletries from housekeeping carts

•  Frequently requests new linens, towels, and restocking of fridge


What To Do*

Never interfere with a situation or attempt to directly assist the victim. If a potential situation of human trafficking is uncovered, consider the following action steps:

1.  In case of immediate danger, call 911

If you believe someone staying in your establishment is in danger (especially a child under 18) please call 911 for immediate response from local law enforcement.


2.  If you identify a missing child, call the hotline

If you believe you can identify a missing child,

call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 

toll-free Hotline at 1-800-843-5678


3. If you suspect human trafficking, call the hotline

If you suspect human trafficking or exploitation might be happening in your establishment but do not think anyone is in immediate danger,

call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888

or email:


The hotline is available to answer all calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Calls received by the hotline are always anonymous unless the caller chooses to provide the NHTRC with his or her name and contact information and authorizes its use. This information is not given to law enforcement, other individuals, or other agencies without prior consent.


Once a call is received, the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s next steps may include:

•  An additional call to the caller to confirm the accuracy of information (with the caller’s                          consent);

•  Provision of materials and/or referrals to organizations in the caller’s area serving trafficking              victims;

•  A report to a local anti-trafficking organization, service provider, or law enforcement.



Ramsey County, Minnesota, Attorney's Office "Making A Difference: Ways To Help Prevent Sex Trafficking" training video for hotels, 2013 (21 min.)


The American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Institute is a partner with ECPAT-USA, providing a 30-minute online training course to hotel employees on "The Role of Hospitality in Preventing and Reacting to Child Trafficking."  It is available on the Educational Institute's website by clicking here

*Some of the information on  this page has been provided by Love146 and Polaris.


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