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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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.