Managing the Unexpected: Crisis Planning, Communications and Response

By Fran Sarmiento Executive Vice President, Venture Insurance Programs | January 12, 2014

Just as Superstorm Sandy prompted concerns about weather disasters in 2012, last year’s tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon made security and terrorist attacks a top concern for many hotel executives. Beyond the immediate security measures taken by hotels in the days and weeks following the attack, this tragedy raises broader questions around crisis planning and response.

Crises and disasters represent significant risk for a hotel’s ability to continue ordinary operations, but take many forms and are difficult to predict. They also can affect a hotel’s public image, customer base and short- and long-term financial performance. This makes it imperative for hotels and other business to respond effectively in a crisis.

Once a crisis occurs, it is too late to begin planning a response. Hotels must develop, practice and regularly update an effective plan, taking into account all emerging threats, as well as internal operations and available external resources.

Vulnerability Analysis

The first step in preparing a crisis response plan is to define all types of crises that may occur. This is often called a vulnerability analysis. This entails looking at recent trends in your region, nation and around the world, as well as emerging trends in hotels and weather and health-related issues.
Remember, crises are not limited to large-scale events like terrorist attacks and weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and flooding. They also can take the form of fires, crimes committed by a staff member, guest or intruder, and accidental deaths or injuries – especially if they are the result of real or perceived negligence on the part of a staff member.

Disease and illness can also become an emergency when they cause serious injury or death or involve an infectious disease that moves beyond a handful of guests. These can result from food-borne illness or infectious disease such as the H1N1 virus or SARS.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Bryan Green
Jonathan Sockell
Max Starkov
Laurence Bernstein
Philip J Harvey
Jim Holthouser
Doug Luciani
Jason Ferrara
John Poimiroo
John Poimiroo
Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.