Fighting sex trafficking in hotels and motels

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A place for rest and relaxation became a nightmare for women all around the world. Unfortunately, human trafficking and hotels are often intertwined. The National Human Trafficking Hotline found that hotels and motels were the number one reported venue for trafficking in 2021.

But people are standing up and getting things done to lessen and even eliminate the heinous crime from society. And it all begins with the people inside the hotel.

Human trafficking in hotels. CREDIT: WINK News

Florida Senate Democratic Leader, Lauren Book, has introduced legislation to crack down on hotels not following a 2019 law requiring them to take steps to curb human trafficking. That’s after a Sun Sentinel investigation found hotels were racking up thousands of fines for not following the rules, and then not paying.

On Wednesday, WINK News went to the JW Marriott on Marco Island, a hotel that follows the rules and does its part to eliminate trafficking.

Sharon Lockwood, the manager of the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, spends her days walking through an enormous 800-plus room hotel, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

But during her tasks, she keeps in mind her other, arguably more vital, duty.

“I’m a mom, you know, I’ve been with Marriott almost 40 years, so proud of our company, but I’m a human. And as humans, we just need to take care of each other,” Lockwood said.

For Lockwood and her JW Marriott employees, that means watching out for signs of human trafficking.

“Our industry is definitely a place where human trafficking occurs globally,” Lockwood said. “And in 2016, Marriott created its first or the original human traffic training for all of our associates.”

“And as of this date, over 18 companies now use our training,” Lockwood said.

They’re training to make sure all employees from the concierge at the front desk to housekeepers and everyone in between know how to spot any warning signs of human trafficking. It’s what the American Hotel and Lodging Association advocates for through its “No Room For Trafficking” program.

No Room For Trafficking program website. CREDIT:

“It is our goal to make sure that every single hotel employee receives this training, which is critical,” Anna Blue, the president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation, said.

Although, Blue will also acknowledge that there are limitations.

“So we are not on the ground in every single hotel…” Blue said. “But we can just keep beating that drum beat making sure that we’re putting out the resources, making sure we have national partners across the board, making sure that we are partnering with all of the state associations, who are also on the ground in cities like Naples doing this work.”

It takes everyone and incredible focus and effort to spot human trafficking in hotels.

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