Human Trafficking and SITE

Human Trafficking and SITE

Now is the time for the meetings industry to move from awareness to action in the global fight against human trafficking.  Says SITE, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence. At the meeting last month held a joint webinar on the topic with ECPAT-USA, an organization dedicated to stopping the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Code involves more than just the signature. Companies agree to:

1. Establish a policy and procedures against exploitation of children.

2. Train employees about the issue and what to look for.

3. Include a clause in vendor contracts stating a zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation of children.

4. Provide information to travelers.

5. Collaborate and engage with stakeholders.

6. Report annually on implementation of the code.

The Code realize benefits to their organizations, such as recognition as a responsible brand, the ability to connect with other travel and tourism leaders who have signed The Code. Mitigation of potential risks, and a competitive advantage. (ECPAT stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of children for sexual purposes.)

The Travel Industry Is the Front Line

SITE signed The Code at IMEX Frankfurt in 2015. Then dedicated itself to educating the meeting and incentive community about the issue. SITE is challenging its chapters worldwide to take action. Said Rhonda Brewer, immediate past president of SITE and vice president of sales for Maritz Travel (which signed The Code in 2013).

Trafficking of children is a $15 billion industry. Affects 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 worldwide. “All countries have it happening,” Brewer pointed out. Hotels, because they can be an “anonymous space,” are on the front lines. It’s not budget airport hotels, it’s well-known brands used by meetings every day.

For example: In hotels, traffickers will travel with little or no luggage and pay in cash one day at a time. Victims may be dressed inappropriately for their age or the weather and they will be verbally or physically led by the trafficker.

At airports, traffickers will be carrying all the identification and money for the group they’re with; in flight, they will speak for the victim and may not allow the victim to walk around alone.

How SITE Will Help

Daryl Keywood, CIS, a board member of SITE and the CEO of Walthers DMC, explained on the webinar that SITE has put together a “CSR Activities and Chapter Resource Guide” with ideas for taking action.

Essentially, SITE has partnered with ECPAT-USA to establish the SITE-ECPAT Fund, where donations will be collected “to create a world where no child is bought, used, or sold for sex.” SITE members and chapters may allocate any of their activities or fundraising to ECPAT-USA and all donations will be added to the fund. (To donate directly, go to the ECPAT website and write “SITE” in the Affiliation section.)

Chapters also can find a local or regional ECPAT or affiliate office or service provider (all vetted) by searching the online database. These offices can provide speakers for chapter meetings and source recipient provider organizations for donations such as care packages of personal care items that chapters might put together as a CSR activity.

Take the Challenge

Organization-wide, Keywood said, the SITE Challenge involves a chapter committing to contribute $500 per year for five years to ECPAT-USA and then challenging another chapter to do the same. The first to do this was the SITE Texas Chapter, which challenge SITE Southeast. And SITE SoCal is part of the challenge as well.

On a personal level, Keywood is an ECPAT Athlete, wearing an ECPAT jersey in cycling events such as the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, just held this week in New York City.

“Over 80 percent of arrests happen in airports and hotels,” Guelbart explained on the webinar. “Very few victims are identified, and even fewer are helped.” SITE’s goal is to change that.

Find more about ECPAT’s work, including its annual advocacy journeys, at the organization’s website. Here are a few ways to report suspicious activity:

• The Virtual Global Task Force (for online activity)

• The Cybertip Line is maintained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a U.S. organization, but accepts reports globally: (800) 843-5678

• The USA National Human Trafficking hotline: (888) 373-7888

Our Culinary Skills rock!

Our Culinary Skills rock!

Our Culinary Skills rock! VNS has corporate event planning and catering that presents incomparable event capabilities. Our desire is to provide you and your guests with a flawless culinary experience highlighting sustainability produced, inventive and luscious menus. The highest caliber of service in our industry, trend setting design and attention to every detail.


At VNS we always tailor-makes our menus to suit your imaginative, organizational and budgetary requests.


More than a catering company. We have a culinary team focused on delivering experiential events for a clientele who have seen it all. Let our team bring to life your next corporate event. Our amazing team is equally at home planning a wedding as a corporate event.

Our catering, food styling and event production services include

Creative menu design with sophisticated, innovative cuisine
We provide custom tailoring of buffets and plates as well as bar accessories
Liquid refreshment synchronization
Novelty kitchens
Provision guidelines, timing and coordination
Exceptional trained service staff that are professionals
Creating the perfect custom menu for your event that will be talked about for years is our specialty. Chefs are well versed in food allergies and preferences; vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.

We are known for our locally produced food. We have a strong relationship with our purveyors, from farmers to bakers, to cheese makers. Our focus is on the freshest, most seasonal ingredients available. Our team is constantly connecting seasonal and local foods with innovative menu ideas. From our food presentation to beautiful table designs, we will help capture your vision for the perfect event that will impress your guests and make you shine

Whether you are celebrating a corporate anniversary or hosting your annual company party, let us make you look good. From casual to upscale, our corporate catering division can create an event that reflects the caliber and style of your company.

If you need interactive games, entertainment, live music, or out of the box ideas for a unique celebration – we are here to help. Santa Barbara Catering offers one stop shopping and can coordinate all of this for you.

The next time your company needs to plan a memorable corporate celebration or corporate meeting, look to our event planners to bring your vision to life.

We would love to start planning your custom menu!



Arizona The Resort State

Arizona The Resort State, Healthy competition among properties raises the bar

Luxury meeting options in The Grand Canyon State are as vast as, say, the Grand Canyon.

Stellar resorts with Native American-themed spas, name-brand golf courses and breathtaking desert scenery are hardly new in Arizona. The Wigwam, outside Phoenix in Litchfield Park, turns 86 this year, and JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa helped set the tone for the brand’s resorts throughout the world when it opened in 1967.

“Having such a variety of luxury resorts throughout the state puts us in a wonderfully unique position to market Arizona as a resort destination,” says Debbie Johnson, director of Arizona Office of Tourism. “Our resorts offer such a wide range of amenities, including golf, dining, spas, pools and recreational activities, as well as some of the most luxurious rooms and suites available. This is particularly important to the Arizona Office of Tourism because meetings bring in business travelers, which provide us the opportunity to showcase our state to a different type of visitor.”

From Tucson to Sedona, and with an impressive collection in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Arizona features so many luxurious meeting properties that it could easily change its name to The Resort State.

“With so many luxury properties in the great state of Arizona, it forces all resorts to push the boundaries of luxury and innovation each year,” says Stephanie Sanstead, director of public relations and marketing communications for Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler. “This certainly elevates the overall guest experience and satisfaction.”

The Phoenician

Arizona The Resort State

The Phoenician, Scottsdale

The AAA Five Diamond Scottsdale property has expansive indoor and outdoor event space, measuring 160,000 sq. ft. The glamorous Camelback Ballroom Complex features a 15,000-square-foot ballroom. With a veranda for receptions and outdoor breakout sessions. This unique feature of this property is the variety of accommodations. There are 643 total accommodations. The Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Canyon Suites has 60 guest rooms and suites. Serving as a resort within the resort. Guest rooms in the main building and The Canyon Suites will be remodeled starting this summer. With that said three nine-hole golf courses, 10 restaurants and bars. Eight swimming pools, a spa and an art collection make The Phoenician magical.

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