Passport to Freedom

Sabre Holdings’ Journey
To Fight Human Trafficking

Two Sabre Holdings® employees were on a mission to help fight human trafficking. Working with their leaders, colleagues, communities, and the travel and transportation industries, they launched Passport to Freedom. Together, with the backing of approximately 10,000 Sabre Holdings employees and numerous organizations, they have made significant strides in building awareness about human trafficking and working toward a world free of this merciless criminal activity.

The fight against human trafficking is no small feat. In fact, a crime of this magnitude needs the support and action of every person possible. That’s why Sabre Holdings launched Passport to Freedom last year. But every successful initiative needs dedicated leaders with a long-term strategy.

We are two individuals at Sabre Holdings who — by trade or by passion, or both — have chosen to take leadership roles in our company’s commitment to fight human trafficking. We originally uncovered this cause as a result of conducting a corporate responsibility materiality analysis, charting items that are a risk for impacting our business and those items of importance to our stakeholders.

While the path to educating our leaders about the cause and gaining their full support wasn’t necessarily smooth, it was a charge that we knew we were obligated to lead. We initially heard from some colleagues that it would be easier to hug kids and plant trees than to take on something as ugly as human trafficking. But, once they heard the facts, they were in … all in.

It was then that we asked ourselves, what can our company do? We don’t own hotel properties and we don’t fly airplanes. So we focused on our span of influence — on our relationships and contacts. We decided to work within the space that we have with our global employees and across our industry. We set out with our plan — to educate, advocate and collaborate.

We decided that we could serve as conveners, share our voice and educate others about the atrocities about which we had just learned. We are the very first to say that we aren’t the experts, that we don’t have the answers, we don’t have experience fighting human trafficking and we don’t really have much funding to support the initiative. But what we have is a passionate voice. So we set out to use it.

Since the time our leadership galvanized around the fight against human trafficking, they have served up an overwhelming number of opportunities to share our voice. We share our journey with you to encourage you to think creatively about what you can do within your span of influence, with your resources, and most of all, with your passion. Sabre Holdings wasn’t a natural organization to take on human trafficking, and maybe you’re thinking that your organization can’t do much either. But think again. Your company … your employees … touch hundreds of thousands of people every year. By educating and spreading the word, your employees and customers can join in the fight. And a mass of people is what it’s going to take to win this battle.

Passport to Freedom has enabled us to creatively make a difference, build awareness, give a voice to the cause and give survivors a chance.

Learning About The Cause

Because we felt like we knew so little about the world’s second-largest criminal activity, we first had to learn about the cause. In doing so, we turned to the experts at hard-working organizations such as End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) International, International Justice Mission, Mosaic Family Services, Airline Ambassadors International and Polaris Project. Polaris Project owns the national human trafficking hotline and resource center. Their highly trained employees take calls from individuals who have questions about human trafficking, how to start a program in their church, how to obtain materials to educate themselves, etc. They have a wealth of knowledge and are prepared to answer questions 24x7x365 at 1-888-373-7888.

Our Public Commitment

We made a public commitment. As we explored the cause, a lot of ideas were tossed around about how we could add the most value, how to engage our leadership and how we could get involved. We were overwhelmed with the possibilities and decided that we needed to channel our efforts around one common milestone: signing the ECPAT code (The Code). The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct is the only voluntary set of business principles travel and tourism companies can implement to prevent child sex tourism and trafficking of children.

Signing The Code focused our passionate volunteers and was the catalyst for Passport to Freedom. Signing The Code as our first big step gave everyone a common language, a common idea and an understanding that our leadership and our company had made a commitment to the cause.

Resources Center

We created resources for others to learn alongside us. We offer an array of free materials on our Passport to Freedom website such as an overview of human trafficking, 27 ways to do more, videos explaining the scope of the human trafficking crime industry and public service announcements for other organizations to use on their websites and in their communications.

Employee Engagement

We engaged passionate employees. By signing The Code, it gave our employees the clear license to be part of the effort. Our entire leadership team carved out time on their agendas to share their personal commitment to fighting human trafficking. We also included Passport to Freedom in our new-hire orientation. Our doors were knocked down with offers to help, so we unleashed our really passionate colleagues. With these newfound supporters, we were able to allocate resources to the initiatives we had brainstormed along the way. They created processes to develop training, presentations to share with customers, videos to show at conferences, messaging to put in seatback pockets, ads to put in airline magazines, etc. The list continues to grow, and the impact continues to compound, exponentially.

Employee Training

We launched custom employee awareness training. One of our commitments to The Code is to train employees in children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases. By rolling out a 30-minute online training, we knew we could educate our 10,000 global employees about what to look for and how to report it. Within the first month, approximately 25 percent of our employees had taken the training, with a 4.5 out of 5 positive rating.

Leveraging Relationships

We tapped into our relationships. In the normal course of our business, we participate in numerous industry meetings, trade association conferences, board of director meetings, government forums, etc. We have leveraged these opportunities to fulfill our commitment and asked others to join us, including:

  • Association of Certified Travel Executives (ACTE) — We sponsored the closing session of the conference to share our commitment to the cause and celebrated ACTE’s signing of The Code on stage. We also hosted the conference closing reception, where we invited five nonprofit organizations to conduct one-on-one discussions with attendees.
  • Department of Transportation “Leaders Against Human Trafficking Roundtable” — We serve alongside our customers and partners to help in their mission to maximize the transportation industry’s collective impact on human trafficking.
  • United States White House — We have collaborated with others in support of President Obama’s efforts to combat human trafficking at home and abroad.
  • U.S. Department of State — Each year, the U.S. Department of State honors individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. We accepted the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons offer to host TIP Report Heroes at our headquarters in Southlake, Texas. TIP Report Heroes are non-government workers, lawmakers, police officers and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. They are recognized for their tireless efforts — despite resistance, opposition and threats to their lives — to protect victims, punish offenders and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad. We used this as an opportunity for our executives to hear from brave individuals who fight traffickers on the front lines every day.
  • City of Southlake, Texas, and Polaris Project — We collaborated with the City of Southlake and Polaris Project to provide one-day awareness and action training to 100 North Texas law enforcement officers. Within two weeks, one of the attendees was able to put his training to use, and as a result, a survivor of human trafficking was rescued and taken to a shelter.

What’s next?

In addition to our commitment to educate, advocate and collaborate, we will also focus on building an unprecedented travel career readiness program for survivors. Together, with the Polaris Project, The Travel Institute and some great travel agency partners, we want to give survivors an opportunity for a new life through employment in the travel industry. We will provide scholarships and work with Polaris Project to provide supporting survivor services, but we’ll need companies who want to help by considering these candidates for employment.

Again, we aren’t the experts, we don’t have all the answers and we don’t know exactly where this journey will take us. What we do know is that we’re doing the right thing, we’re working alongside some really smart people who do the really tough work on the front lines, and we’re doing our part.

We hope this bit of our journey inspires you to get creative and think about what you can do to engage in the cause. If we all bring our own resources to the table, collectively, we can make a difference ... saving lives and giving others a passport to freedom.

Who To Contact?

In addition to the global human trafficking hotline directory, there are additional resources that can provide further information and assistance relating to human trafficking:

  • Journey to Freedom
  • 50 East Freedom Way
  • Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
  • Phone: +1 513 333 7500
  • Toll Free: +1 877 648 4838
  • Not for Sale
  • PO Box 1000
  • Half Moon Bay, California 94019
  • Phone: +1 650 560 9990

What can you do if you suspect an instance of trafficking?

CALL THE HOTLINE 1-888-3737-888

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year


National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)

Signing The Code

Former Sabre Holdings CEO Sam Gilliland (pictured with Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA and Jada Pinkett Smith, American actress and founder of the “Don’t Sell Bodies” campaign) signed The Code during the 2012 Passport to Freedom launch.


Sabre Holdings, is a global travel technology company serving the world’s largest industry – travel and tourism. Through its Passport to Freedom initiative, Sabre aims to increase awareness and educate the travel industry on human trafficking issues, advocate for legislation change, and provide opportunities for leaders to collaborate.

Our commitment includes:
  • Train our 10,000 global employees so they are better informed on the issues.
  • Raise awareness with our airline, hotel, travel agency and corporate customers.
  • Inform travelers using online booking tools so that they are better prepared to identify and report potential trafficking incidents.
  • Partner with non-profit, travel and government organizations that support global advocacy toward ending human trafficking.
  • Update company policies, including our Supplier Code of Conduct, to reflect our stand against the crime.
1-888-3737-888 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK,

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