Back in 1986, Roger Blier, Richard Mueller, and Steve Esau, co-founders of the Kirkland-based company, Passport Unlimited, set out to build a new company that offered corporate employees an innovative and elegant way to receive discounts on restaurant meals without cutting coupons. Passport Unlimited partnered with high-end restaurants in the Seattle/Bellevue metro area to offer discounts for their corporate clients through membership cards their clients could provide to employees. Restaurant owners loved the cards—they brought in more upscale customers with spending power, while Passport Unlimited’s clients were able to provide a valued incentive benefit for their employees.
Since then, Passport Unlimited has been so successful, they have expanded their service to more than 75 Fortune 500 corporate clients. Today, not only do they offer discounts at over 800 high end restaurants nationwide, they have expanded to provide their clients with employee discounts on many other travel and retail purchases such as hotels, jewelry, automobiles, and spa services at over 11,000 participating locations.
It’s important to Passport Unlimited’s leadership team to create a company culture of sharing their success by giving back to the community. Along with their 40 employees, Passport Unlimited supports many non-profit organizations that are important to the founders and employees. One of the most critical social issues Passport Unlimited is dedicated to helping is the fight to end human trafficking.
“Giving and helping others has always been something that has resonated with this company since day one,” explains Steve Esau, Vice President of Sales for Passport Unlimited. “We even have a team within our company that has representatives across different departments and their goal is to look for opportunities for how we can give back to the community.”
As a company, Passport Unlimited has financially supported BEST’s work to help eradicate human trafficking. Not only have they donated generously, Passport Unlimited was one of the first companies to join BEST’s Employer’s Alliance program, a partnership of businesses who collaborate to implement best practices in the workplace in order to prevent sex trafficking. In addition, BEST and Passport Unlimited are two of the founding partners in a local coalition between corporate businesses, government agencies, and non-profit agencies dedicated to eliminating human trafficking. The coalition is the Strategic Alliance to Fight Exploitation in Washington State (SAFE). In addition to BEST and Passport Unlimited, this coalition also includes: REST, OPS, Liberty Road Foundation, Vitality Enterprises, Edward Jones, 10/10 Strategies, Seattle Police Department, SILK, Rescue Freedom, Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative, Human Point, Seattle Against Slavery, Trafficking Free, and the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Passport Unlimited is so committed to opposing human trafficking that they have carefully reviewed their own internal employee polices and have re-written certain policies to reflect this value. They have educated their employees with raising awareness about the issue of human trafficking, and they clearly state that their company is strongly opposed to any form of exploitation.
Passport Unlimited is setting the standard to: 1) Educate their employees to prevent trafficking, 2) Set internal workplace polices that prevent human trafficking activity, 3) Financially support non-profits like BEST in order to fund the important work that is needed to eliminate human trafficking. BEST firmly believes that these are the corporate actions that will help change workplace culture and individual employee attitudes about human trafficking, sex buying, and exploitation.
“This issue of human trafficking takes on something you can’t unhear,” describes Esau, “When I first heard about this, it was in a room where they were discussing the plight of women and girls in other countries like Ghana and Thailand. Then one of the people in the room stood up and said, ‘This is not just happening in other countries. This is happening right here in Bellevue, and in Kent, and in Tacoma.’ It tore my heart out. Tore the hearts out of everyone who was in the room. That is why we have to do something about this.”
For more information about Passport Unlimited, visit www.passportunlimited.com. For more information bout the Strategic Alliance to Fight Exploitation in Washington State, visit www.safeinwashington.com.