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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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.