Friday, May 12, 2017

Human Trafficking and "The Code"

Just this week a couple in Red Deer, Alberta was charged with Human Trafficking in a case of exploiting temporary workers - at a hotel.  Details here

In this case the victims were being forced to work long hours for meager wages - and that pay was being clawed back as rent for living in a hotel room shared with up to four other workers. In other hotels and motels around the world, thousands of children are being trafficked for sex.

The statistics are heartbreaking.
  • Average age: 13 years  
  • Average life expectancy of child being trafficked: seven years
  • 95% of recovered child sex victims ran away from an abusive home
  • 1/3 of runaways are picked up by a pimp within 48 hours
  • Odds that a victim will be rescued: 1 in 100
....and the most disturbing, for those of us in the hospitality industry:

  • 94% of all sex trafficking takes place in a hotel or motel

Which is why ConferenceDirect has created a task force to address the issue - urging all associates to educate ourselves, sign "The Code", have meaningful conversations with our hotel and CVB partners, and even include language in our RFPs and contracts:

"As a socially responsible company and signatory of The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Contact (, the Hotel is committed to combating commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Hotel stands firm in our resolve to create awareness of sex trafficking of children by utilizing our professional resources in the travel and tourism industry. We ask that our partners do the same."

The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct is the only voluntary set of business principles travel and tour companies can implement to prevent child sex tourism and trafficking of children. The Code is a joint venture between the tourism private sector and ECPAT.
Companies that endorse The Code are supported by ECPAT-USA to :

  1. Establish a policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children.
  2. Train employees in children's rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases.
  3. Include a clause in contracts throughout the value chain stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children.
  4. Provide information to travelers on children's rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and how to report suspected cases.
  5. Support, collaborate and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children.
  6. Report annually on their implementation of Code related activities.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

At What Cost?

Speculation about the cost - beyond the estimated 18 billion dollar hit to the U.S. economy - continues to swirl around the issue of Trump's infamous travel ban.  Job losses in the tourism and hospitality sector seem likely, at the very least. Not so tangible is the possible intellectual impact from international scientific and academic communities choosing not to meet in the United States.

See Convene magazine's article Will Global Planners Cross the U.S. Off the List? for some of the latest research figures and specific examples of lost opportunities.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flipping Awesome!

There's a fun article in the Sports section of the The Globe and Mail today about how "elves" (as they think of themselves) convert the hockey arena that saw the Leafs lose to the Caps in Game 6 of the first playoff round to a basketball court for our still-in-the-game Raptors.

Check it out here

Thing is, hotels do this sort of thing all the time.  Sometimes it involves tearing down a trade show for one group (booths and pipe and drape and food stations) to set up a breakfast meeting (banquet rounds with linens, chairs, dishes and cutlery, and staging with podium, mic, and screens) for a completely different organisation. Sometimes a group requires a room to be "flipped" in the same day, for the same group.  

I  remember one group I worked with was using half the Regency Ballroom at the the old Four Seasons Hotel (on Avenue Road) for a team building event featuring a crazy obstacle course of over-sized blow-up tunnels and things to climb over and under.  While they were playing mock Olympics it was "all hands on deck" with employees from nearly every department in the hotel assisting with the "flip" to a gala dinner setup complete with dance floor and staging for live band.

Can't believe I found a picture of the Regency Ballroom in the *old* Four Seasons Toronto!

Go Raps!

Monday, April 17, 2017

All work and no play?

I know how hard my clients work, and our partners at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (now part of Accor Hotels) recognize how much ConferenceDirect Associates do for our clients. So a couple of weeks ago we were all treated to a mid-week pampering break at Her Majesty's Pleasure cocktail bar/spa located downtown in Toronto. 

After a pampering treatment of our choice and some "F&B" (this is the hospitality industry, after all), we were apprised of the latest updates on Fairmont Hotels in the Eastern region of Canada - most exciting of which is the complete "transformation" (to the tune of $140-million) of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal. The QE closed completely in June of 2016 and is set to re-open, ahead of schedule, within the next couple of months and the entire guestroom inventory will be renovated by December 2017. See here for more details.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Can a Hotel change the way we eat?

That's the question posed in an article in this week's NOW magazine, about the Gladstone's decision to hire a food activist to work with the hotel's Executive Chef in planning menus using sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.

It's not a new revelation that rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gasses than driving cars. "According to the United National, livestock is responsible for 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. This percentage includes the effect of deforestation in order to create grazing land, as well as livestock natural methane gas emissions".

So naturally vegetables and other produce from nearby Southern Ontario farms will be taking centre stage. Food activism also translates to social responsibility to the neighbourhood residents by offering healthy pay-what-you-can dinners.

Read the story here

Friday, March 31, 2017

Stay to Play - yes, it's a thing

I recently came across an excellent article in the Spring issue of Adrenalin, a magazine about Sports Tourism in Canada. The Case for Stay-To-Play looks at the reasons, challenges, and best practices for implementing a "stay-to-play" policy.

Essentially the policy states that attendees who book their accommodations outside the negotiated room block(s) are prohibited from participating in the event.

Sounds draconian - but it works. By giving the organizers complete control of the room block they're in a stronger bargaining position with hotels, and without the risk of attrition charges, the event - and the organization itself - can flourish, which in turn benefits its members/event attendees.

I experienced some form of this a couple of years ago, when I attended a PCMA East conference in Montreal.  I was delighted to stay at the beautiful Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, the host hotel for (and major sponsor of) the conference.  Had I opted to stay at nearby a hotel though, I would have received a phone call from the organizers (who were comparing the conference registration list with the hotel reservations list) and been told that I would be charged an additional $200 to attend the conference. (It should be pointed out that this was a meetings industry conference, so we all "got it".)

One of my clients has implemented a softer version of this by offering a "Stay and Save" rebate to attendees who book their hotel room before the cutoff date, and show proof of hotel check-in when they pick up their registration materials at the event.  (See Sweet Side of Swing Northwest)  I think this is brilliant!

Would love to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Shoot it or lose it

I don't know about you, but I always congratulate myself at the end of a trip if:
A. I actually wore everything I packed
B. I didn't leave anything behind in a hotel room or on a plane

This travel trip courtesy of  Meetings and Conventions: snap photos on your phone of everything you pack and refer to the photos as you repack to ensure you have everything.