Homeland Security Trains Hotel Workers to See Something, Say Something About Your In-Room Habits

Homeland Security Asking Hotel Staff to Report Customers for Too Many Condoms

In the name of stopping sex trafficking, the Department of Homeland Security is “providing law enforcement with cover to convince citizens to spy on each other and report one another to police for perfectly normal activity.”

“We would rather have you call anybody and report it to somebody,” a DHS spokeswoman told 9News Colorado, “even if it turns out to be nothing, than miss one of those victims that’s suffering.”

That’s why, as part of the “Safe Action Project,” DHS staff will train hotel and hospitality workers on how to spot the so-called signs of sex trafficking.

Bed in a Junior Media Suite at the W Seoul

Here are some of the things that hotel workers may be on the lookout for. Check your own hotel habits.

  • frequent use of the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room’s door (because you’re working or you’re just taking Hyatt’s branding campaign seriously)
  • garbage cans with multiple used condoms (you’re taking Hyatt’s branding campaign seriously)
  • guests who “avert[..] eyes or does not make eye contact” (I’m usually checking into my hotel because I’m tired…)
  • people with “lower quality clothing than companions” (no one ever accused me of fashion)
  • people who have “suspicious tattoos” (you’re from Austin or Portland)
  • if you have multiple computers, cell phones, and other technology (like bloggers!)
  • “presence of photography equipment” (like bloggers!)
  • refusal of cleaning services for multiple days (Starwood’s ‘Make a Green Choice’ for 500 bonus points a night)
  • rooms paid for with cash or a rechargeable credit card (you have to unload your gift card purchases somehow)
  • guests with few personal possessions (you refuse to check a bag because you’re a frequent traveler)

Bed in a Royal Suite at the Burj al Arab

Here’s the full list: (Click to enlarge)

As Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes,

Take heed, lovers on romantic getaways, photographers on assignment, beauty-product junkies, tech workers, cash carriers, alcoholics, late sleepers, slobs, immodest dressers, people on the autism spectrum, people with body-odor problems, single patrons seeking hotel-bar hookups, light packers, and those with a youthful appearance: DHS is onto you!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary why the stereotyping again? Austin and Portland? I have lived in both and do not see how people would have more tatoos in those cities vs other cities. How about DC and Houston? Please be aware of your audience

  2. Hmm… “demeaning or aggressive manner or evidence of verbal threats”

    I’m sure that clause won’t be misused by hotel employees…

  3. The first three items make this seem like a joke of a list. At that point, I decided that I needed to read the rest of the list to see how much of the rest of it was as ridiculous advice and inconsistent with other items on the list. I wasn’t disappointed, if I was looking to see how many more items on the list are ridiculous advice and end up being a case of report everything and nothing by imagining everything is suspect.

  4. C’mon, Gary. The full appears to be pretty useful. Your highlights from the list are taken out of context, and your analysis seems to make a joke out of what is a very serious matter.

  5. I’m with @Gene…not sure if your cherry-picked items were intended for humor, though child sex trafficking is not a laughing matter. But the *actual document* provides more context and deflates your click-bait headline and alarmist post by stating:

    “Please note: Many of these indicators can also be seen in *lawful* activities and the presence of just one of these indicators does not immediately mean that child sex trafficking is occurring. Incidents of *multiple signs* are the best indication”

  6. @Hristo Stoichkov I live in Austin, and am quite confident there are more tatoos here than in DC (where I lived for 18 years) and Houston.

  7. @Gene sex trafficking is a serious issue, but this is not a serious list. Training amateurs to use these ‘signs’ is ripe for abuse and misunderstanding, in much the same way asking TSA agents to pretend to be Israeli super spies through the Behavior Detection program.

  8. @Eric I simply disagree that ‘multiple signs’ from this list are more likely indicative of what is a serious issue than anything else at all.

  9. @gill, I wouldn’t sweat it, most hotel employees I’ve encountered lately can’t speak English, so they misunderstand everything anyway.

    @Hristo Stoichkov, Definitely more tats in Portland than DC, unless you count the MS13 ones…

  10. @Gary
    I really like to see your list! Or aren’t there any eligible signs off sex trafficking? Or we just shouldn’t care about doing something against it? Or the people working in an industry who’s confronted with that issue?

  11. @K Illies – it is a serious issue, however giving a quick rundown of generic ‘signs’ that can just as easily be signs of nothing at all to hotel front desk agents is hard to imagine being a fruitful strategy. Indeed, it seems likely to produce more false reports than anything else, reducing the likelihood that reports of real concern from hotels get the same priority they otherwise would and wasting the resources used to combat sex trafficking on wild goose chases instead of combating real instances.

  12. This sounds like the government outsourcing law enforcement harassment and unreasonable searches to Karens in the private sector.

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