Emergency Planning: Responding to Emergency with Urgency
By Eric Blanc President, ACOM | December 19, 2010
No hospitality facility or destination is immune from potential threats and emergencies caused by nature or human action. Considering tragic disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina or, more recently, the flooding which left the atriums of Nashville's landmark Opryland Resort under 10 feet of water, the time to plan for an emergency certainly isn't in the middle of one.
Properties and convention and visitors bureaus (CVB) who take a proactive, collaborative approach to crisis management by creating and continuously updating an emergency plan are far better prepared to respond, minimize negative outcomes and recover faster.
The emergency plan at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida was developed with executive involvement by the facility's director of operations, the security manager and the director of conventions services who are the core of the emergency response team, according to Shawn-Ta Wilson, CMP, Assistant Director of Convention Services.
"Convention services management staff also play a critical role in implementing the plan. It's their role to be on the front line working with meeting planner customers. In an emergency, they will be looked to as the first responders," says Wilson, a member of the Association for Convention Operations Management (ACOM), which is dedicated to advancing convention services management and its role in the success of hotels, convention centers and CVBs.
A team effort
"We have an emergency team and a chain of command set up so that, if there is an emergency, this group of people each has a role. I am responsible for calling paramedics or fire personnel. Other managers would make contact with the police, the CVB and, when necessary, the media," Wilson says.