Creating a Crisis Communications Plan for Your Hotel
By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | October 2008
Hopefully, it will be the only part of your strategic Public Relations plan that you will never have to execute: a crisis plan is often times the most important part of the communications strategy.
A crisis is usually referred to as an event that can affect a property in a negative way. This can be anything from a fire, to a guest relations issue, a computer glitch, or it can result from a renovation, a management change, new ownership, etc. The effects of a crisis can be short term or long term, and many times the damage can be irreversible. When a crisis is handled poorly, it affects your reputation, brand management, and most of all your credibility- and when credibility is badly damaged, the affects can be fatal to your business.
Ultimately, a crisis plan outlines the communications strategy and tactics that should be undertaken for each scenario identified by the Executive Committee of a hotel. As I have indicated from time to time in my columns over the years, your PR or Communications counsel, whether an in-house or outsourced professional, should have a seat on your hotel's Executive Committee. I am seeing more hotels follow this practice in recent years, and I hope other properties follow their example.
Parts that should be included in a strategic crisis plan include designating a spokesperson, writing out talking points, compiling a list of who should be notified, and who should be contacted first about the issue, how employees should address the crisis, how other stakeholders should respond, what steps are being taken to remedy the situation, a list other damage control measures, and much more.
I encourage all my hospitality clients to create crisis plans for their properties, regardless of size and type, as it is a very involved project that requires objectivity, discretion, and professionalism. If drafted properly, crisis plans can not only save a property from a potential PR nightmare, but often times it can help prevent it.
Steps to consider when creating a crisis plan: