Managing Special Events Without Spoiling the Fun

By Philip J Harvey President, Venture Insurance Programs | August 21, 2016

A city’s win of a major special event like the Republican or Democratic National Convention can mean a boon for the local economy, including the hospitality industry. Unfortunately, these days, it also means heightened security concerns. Whether here or abroad, acts of terrorism, bombings, and active shooter situations are a part of life and cannot be ignored. Hotels—particularly those in special event host cities, or those hosting large conventions or multiple conferences simultaneously—need a plan in place to reduce their risk exposure to these horrific events. By developing security action plans and reinforcing them, hotel management can be sure they are doing the best they can to protect their guests and business without spoiling the fun of these events.

Special Events Call for More Hands, More Restrictions, and Proper Planning

In today’s rapid news cycle, it may be difficult for some to remember that just last fall Pope Francis visited the United States for the first time with much fanfare. The Pope spent the majority of his time in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, which was expected to bring millions of pilgrims from around the world to the City of Brotherly Love. While the widely anticipated event went off – for the most part—without a hitch, city officials were blasted for over-regulating the event with traffic boxes, and road, museum, business and school closures, and more.

This begs the question: How should cities — and hotels in particular – plan for special events? What precautions should they take to protect, in this case, the Pope, the citizens of Philadelphia, and scores of visitors assembled from a potential terrorist attack or other mass casualty event?

Globally, hotels are a major target for terrorists, and as such, these homes-away-from-home need to be prepared. From July 2013 to July 2014, 89 terror attacks occurred at hotels around the world, according to Property Casualty 360. These attacks led to 398 deaths, while another 540 people were wounded.

From an insurance perspective, these hotel attacks can also be very complicated and costly. PC360 pointed to one such case—an attack on two hotels, the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Trident and Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai in 2008, where 164 people were killed and another 308 wounded. Not only did the Indian government spend thousands of dollars working with victims and their families, the insurance payout for business interruption and rebuilding surpassed $28 million.

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Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.