Preparing a Crisis Communication Plan.... The Time is Now!

By Susan Stoga Principal, Carson Stoga | October 28, 2008

Like all industries, the hospitality industry has its share of crisis...and as anyone who has worked the hospitality front lines know, a crisis seldom happens from 9 to 5 when everyone from general manager to controller to sales manager are on-site. Indeed, most "situations", whether great or small, happen in the wee hours when the newest front desk clerk seems to be in charge.

That's why it is so important to develop a sound crisis communication plan and keep it a vital part of operations and any new hire programs. Just as associates learn reservations systems, sign up for health care or learn about their 401k, this plan should be on the high on the agenda. While no crisis is ever the same, being prepared, in a general sense, will have a positive impact on any post-crisis quarterbacking.

There are a variety of crisis situations that can arise and the truth of the matter is that a solid crisis communication strategy may be the only way to safeguard your brand's reputation and maintain a safe and reputable image. The impact a crisis can have on your ability to service customers and grow your business varies from the loss of a day's work to the loss of your business altogether. Whether it is product malfunction, assault, fire, labor disputes, kidnapping, hostage situations or a natural disaster, the following procedures should get you going on the path to preparedness.

Getting Started

Make certain that all associates know how to contact the MOD in the event of any unexpected or unusual circumstance.

More importantly, create an environment that encourages the flow of communication at any time of day, or night. Sometimes, an issue that may not seem significant can have significant consequences and as a result, over-communication is better than no communication. Many situations never morph into full blown crises because they were handled at the outset, instead of allowing them to come to a boiling point.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.