BILLINGS, Mont. - In 2019, over 22,000 victims and survivors of human trafficking were identified. And, those are just the ones reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The Dressember Network along with Truckers Against Trafficking and Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking also known as BEST held a nationwide webinar to discuss the critical training and awareness hospitality businesses are receiving to prevent human trafficking. Along with how the pandemic plays a role in increasing trafficking cases.

BEST Executive Director Mar Brettmann says, because of the pandemic, the different ways that a victim could have potentially been helped, like school or a counselor, many of those no longer exist.

Brettmann did highlight the red flags of human trafficking. The first sign that a hotel or any hospitality worker should be on the lookout for is, any unusual levels of control. For example, if one person was checking in for someone else, and the other person is looking uncomfortable or avoiding eye contact. 

Boothill Inn and Suites General Manager Shelli Mann says she and her employees are regularly trained to spot the signs of trafficking.

Mann says the number one thing is they do not accept cash. They also look for anyone who is sleeping during the day, but has a lot of activity through the early hours of the morning and late at night.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, multiple cell phones and trash cans filled with paraphernalia are also signs housekeepers should be aware of.

Other signs Mann and her staff look for are, “A do not disturb for an extended period of time, is not acceptable here. A lot of takeout... when all we see is the trafficker, him or herself, and they are the ones taking the food up when we know for a fact there’s more people in the room, then that raises a big red flag," says Mann.

Batman says it's easy to simply ask somebody, as long as they're alone, and there’s no trafficker there, "Hey, do you need help, is there something I can do for you?”

And if you do happen to witness trafficking or anything concerning, you can always report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.

For more information on red flags and how to report trafficking incidents, click here.

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