Blog

How to protect your hotel and prepare for a crisis

Three key ways to protect your hotel and prepare for a crisis

A time of crisis can be stressful for anyone but how we navigate and manage these situations speaks volumes about brand integrity and perception. In our fast-paced, ever-changing landscape, we always need to be prepared for issues or crises no matter how big or small.

To help guide you through how to manage a crisis and mitigate risk at your hotel, we pulled together a few points to help you and your team prepare and ultimately navigate the hard times:

 

Preparation:

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

  • Put in place a crisis management team. The team can be made up of anyone within the hotel. Ideally a few people from different work streams who can work collaboratively to create a plan of action
  • Think about your worse-case scenario and work backwards from the issue to determine the best way to resolve it.
  • Monitor the news and social media. Keep abreast of the latest information. Learn from how others have responded and ensure your messaging is relevant to the latest developments in the crisis

An example:

  • Think about the steps it would take to either eliminate the risk or, if that’s not possible, at least ensure guests and employees are top priority.
  • Put in place a communication and evacuation strategy. This will enable a quick response to the issue. And remember, plan for the worst case scenario so you’re always prepared.

Communication:

  • Communication at the time or in preparation for the crisis should be the cornerstone of how you navigate the issue and mitigate risk. A lack of communication and/or response to an issue speaks volumes about a brand – so always get in front of the issue and speak out.
  • If you are still open for business and want to encourage guests to still stay at your property, you should maintain a strong presence publicly and reassure guests that, regardless of the issues at hand, their well-being is of the utmost importance.
  • If you are not able to open for business, communicating this is also extremely important. Being proactive and open in how you communicate the news will help maintain integrity in times of stress.
  • In any communications, be sure to mention the issue and provide reassurance with your audience that their safety is number one priority. It’s key that you communicate that your hotel has done everything in their power to mitigate risk. Don’t steer away from the topic or try and avoid confronting the issue, guests and the public expect honesty and transparency.
  • Use as many channels to communicate as possible. It’s important to get your message across so ensuring all bases are covered is key. An example of some channels to think about when promoting your messaging:
    • Social media
    • Email marketing
    • Direct email from General Manager (if to VIP guests)
    • Google Ads
    • Paid search
    • Google Display network
  • Outside of promotion, communicating to your current and future guests should be a priority. In this instance, email communication is a great way to get the message out.
    • Let them know that the property is doing well and remind them the best way to support their favorite destination is to come visit and bring friends
    • Use it as a way to reassure them if their current/upcoming stay will not be affected. If it will be, notify them of the changes.
    • For guests who have cancelled, it is just as important to try and maintain that relationship:
      • Let them know you’re sorry to see they cancelled but that should they wish to re-book, they will be welcome anytime.
      • Let them know of the measures you have put in place to mitigate risk and put guest safety as number one priority.
  • Remember, every communication during this time is key. A thoughtful, well-planned communication strategy will convey your brand in a positive light.

An example:

If your hotel is within a community hit by a natural disaster perception of the area may be that it isn’t safe to travel there. That may not be the case however, so if you are still open and your community remains untouched, work across your team to ensure every employee at the hotel is aware that you are “open for business!” Work with your marketing team to develop messaging strategy that can be broadcast externally as well as internally. Create succinct messaging that can be used across all communications: “We’re open for business and beautiful as ever” or “Blue seas and sunny skies, we’re ready for you!”

If possible and appropriate, perhaps consider sharing information about how your employees are helping the community or working together to help and support those in need if the issue has affected the local area. Check out our webinar that talks about just this, learn more about how you can manage a natural disaster at your hotel.

Take action:

  • As well as communicating externally and internally at your hotel how you plan to respond to the issue is crucial. Where possible, limiting delay in how you act is key. Refer back to your plan put in place before the crisis at delegate tasks to ensure measures are put in place.
  • Keep your business strategy in mind throughout this crisis as well:
    • Evaluate and adjust room type pricing. It may be a good opportunity to price suites at parity or lower than standard rooms to entice guests to travel
    • New sources of business: For example, Expedia Travel Ads has options that can either, drive travelers to your direct website
    • Work together to target your most valuable guests and ensure availability as you try and boost business

An example:

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a very immediate global threat. As of today, the World Health Organization has claimed it to be a global health emergency. As we navigate this global crisis, there are of course a lot of unknowns, however, here are a few ideas of how you can take action at your hotel to help prevent and maintain stability in your business:

  • Ensure you have communicated with your staff about the issue and remind them of all the ways the World Health Organization has explained how to mitigate risk:
    • All employees should wash hands frequently
    • Provide hand sanitizer for employees and guests throughout the hotel
    • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever
    • Ensure housekeeping are alert and at all times thinking about how they can disinfect anything a traveler would touch frequently, this can include areas such as lift buttons, light switches, door handles, toilets, telephones and the reception counter
  • Think about revenue: re-evaluate segmentation & pricing strategies
    • Evaluate if your comp set has changed due to properties remaining closed or reopening. Monitor your comp set to maintain a fair but competitive price

 

If you need advice for managing and communication a crisis management plan, let us know! We are here to help and happy to provide communication and digital marketing best practices and recommendations for your hotel.