In June, Real Hospitality Group became the eighth U.S. company—and the first hotel management company—to subscribe to the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, developed by the EPCAT, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, a worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children by raising awareness, developing policy, and passing legislation that protects victims and penalizes traffickers.

The other U.S. companies that have signed the code to date are: Carlson Companies, Delta Air Lines, Global Exchange, Nix Conference and Meeting Management, Hilton Worldwide, Millennium Hotel St. Louis, and Wyndham Worldwide. (When Nix Conference and Meeting Management learned about the code as part of a client’s site selection process, and expressed interest in signing it, ECPAT-USA worked with principals Molly Hackett and Jane Quinn to create a meeting planner’s version of the code.)

As subscribers to the code, the companies pledge to develop and implement policies that condemn child trafficking and provide training to help their employees identify and report trafficking activities. They also help raise awareness among customers and business partners about the issue and about the Code of Conduct.

“The issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children is abhorrent”, said Rick Day, COO, Real Hospitality Group. “Responsibility to our communities demands a public stance on this issue and we are pleased to partner with ECPAT and publically sign the Code of Conduct.” RHG signed the code at a ceremony June 28 at The Sky Room in Manhattan.

“We are thrilled to have one of the leading hotel management companies in the country and the largest in New York City joining the effort to protect children,” said Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA. “We are especially gratified that a company that is such an important player in New York City’s travel industry has stepped up to do the right thing for the children here in our home town. We hope this sparks momentum for other New York companies to jump on the bandwagon.”

Worldwide, the code has been signed by almost 1,000 members of the travel industry.

How You Can Do Something
ECPAT’s Web site lists ways to spread the word—including through meetings. “Large events increase pressure,” ECPAT states. “When planning or booking large events, ask companies to sign the code. We all know ‘money talks.’ When companies see their consumers showing interest in issues, they show interest as well. If they will not sign, book elsewhere. You always have choices!”

At the very least, you can drop off a letter at hotels or other travel vendors informing them about the code and referring them to ECPAT’s Web site. (You can find a PDF of a sample letter there as well.)