by Tracey B. Smith, CMP, CMM
Every time I see another report of a terrorist attack or a politician spouting that certain people do not belong in the United States, my stomach goes into knots. First of all, I don’t like confrontations. Second, all this spewing of hate gets me riled up.
I am not sure I can muster true forgiveness for the terrorist couple in San Bernardino, or, for that matter, the Aurora cinema shooter. I certainly cannot forgive the evil-doers of 9/11 and Paris and elsewhere. So, I got to thinking about what I could do.
The meetings industry is unique in that we planners and suppliers do business together all over the world. And, we do it peacefully. I am always awed by IMEX, because hundreds of countries come together to promote meetings, travel and tourism. No one gets into a fight there. No one openly shuns another because of race or religion.
It is precisely because of the meetings and travel industry that people come together for a common purpose, and often leave with a new understanding. So, I intend to talk about how our industry can push the answers this world needs to be peaceful, prosperous and safe. I will encourage people to go somewhere new to get a different perspective. Those who travel tend to understand that, for the most part, we all have the same needs and desires: to be productive in our communities and to go home to have dinner with our families each day. It is not any more complicated than that.
I’ve been apolitical all my life, which really means I don’t want any of those buffoons representing me. I struggle with each election, worried that the buffoon I finally vote for will mess things up totally. So far, I’ve managed to get by all of them and the world still stands. We’ll survive this next one, too, but it IS up to us to keep the message going: when we meet, we show a few more people the love, and the world changes.
Tracey B Smith, CMP, CMM discovered the meetings industry in 1989 and never looked back. In those years, she has planned corporate meetings and conferences, association meetings and public events.
In 2010, Smith joined the SPIN, developing programs for the organization’s members and the first three SPINCon conferences. Currently, Smith is a contract meeting manager for American Express Meetings & Events. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and various dogs.
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by Barbara Scofidio
I’m amazed at how often I still hear that question. Even after most of the major hotel companies and meeting industry associations have signed what’s known as “The Code” (the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct), forging a commitment to train their employees to spot the signs of sex slavery. Even after the largest-ever FBI sting last October led to 150 arrests in one week (and saved 150 children) in the same cities—and hotels—we all meet in.
Meeting planners can make a huge difference in growing awareness among our hotel and other vendor partners. Start by bringing up the subject in casual conversation with the director of sales or GM, asking what policies and procedures the hotel has in place around trafficking. There have been situations where these discussions have led to hotels signing the Code so their employees are trained to spot the signs. Once they realize there isn’t a big financial burden, they’re more apt to get involved. Other planners build language right into their RFPs. The leading organization in the U.S., ECPAT, has resources that can help you get started.
So the next time someone asks you, “What does human trafficking have to do with my job?” I suggest you answer with two responses:
1) Did you know it happens all the time in four- and five-star hotels? (Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle made headlines when he was arrested for child prostitution at The Plaza in NYC.)
2) You travel, don’t you? Traffickers move victims across cities and countries using air and ground transportation companies. If you think you spotted something when you were on a trip, you probably did.
Those two answers will help build awareness so that, one day, this question is never asked again.
Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue magazine and recently spoke on human trafficking at SPINCon.
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Kathie Niesen, CMP
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