Sex Trafficking in Hotels
Read the full interview with Michelle Gehman,
President of GLHMA (Greater Lancaster Hotel and Motel Association)!
NSI: How has Human Trafficking awareness changed the past 10 years in Hotels?
Gehman: Many of the Hotel Brands are requiring us to take part in online training focusing on Preventing Human Trafficking and recognizing the signs. Professionals like Pam Pautz educate us at our monthly meetings on what signs to look for. GLHMA values the working relationship we have with North Star and the partnership we have formed. Pam is someone we can reach out to when we need more training or when we need to help people who was trapped in Human Trafficking. Pam supplied us with a handout that we can give to someone who we think is involved in Human Trafficking. The relationship that was formed with Pam and North Star helps us to offer support to others in need. I was personally surprised to see how many of our Hoteliers who have witnessed Human Trafficking here in Lancaster County. Lancaster Country Hoteliers care deeply about or neighbors and communities. The week of May 14th to May 20th, the Hotel community had a Human Trafficking awareness week. The Hoteliers wore pins to show our support in stopping Human Trafficking in Lancaster County.
NSI: What do you have set in place to help Sex-Trafficked women if they were to come into your hotel? What are specific signs you look for? How do you train your hotel staff? Do you monitor with security cameras?
Gehman: Yes, many of our properties have security cameras in place. We have the hand out that we can offer anyone in trouble (mentioned above). Signs we look for are guests who book one day at a time and they pay cash, heavy traffic in and out of the guest room.
NSI: What do you wish the public knew about Trafficking in hotels?
Gehman: I wish the public realized Human Trafficking is happening in our neighborhoods, community and school yards.
NSI: How do you see the problem of Sex Trafficking decreasing or increasing (in Hotels specifically)?
Gehman: I believe it is on the increase, however the Brand Training and partnership with North Star and our local Police departments is helping greatly to discourage Human Trafficking in Lancaster County.
NSI: What kind of hotels is Trafficking happening in?
Gehman: All Hotels can be a target for Human Trafficking.
NSI: How do you deal with people’s privacy versus stepping in where there is suspicion of Trafficking?
Gehman: Our Guest's safety is our number one concern. We turn over any suspicion of Human Trafficking to our local police .
NSI: Does the location of Lancaster have advantages or disadvantages for helping or hindering the Sex Trafficking market?
Gehman: I believe our location is an advantage for the Human Trafficking market, however our community is becoming very educated on this topic. The local TV stations are doing a great job educating us. The more partnerships we can form with each other will bring more awareness and solutions for Human Trafficking issues.
NSI: Are you partnering with other organizations, safe homes, or law enforcement?
Gehman: Yes, GLHMA has partnered with the Lampeter Police Department.