4 Tips for Effective Crisis Management in the Hospitality Industry
With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread, industries like travel and hospitality feel its impact more than any other sector. In fact, the World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that the pandemic could cut 50 million jobs in the sector worldwide. And the industry will need up to 10 months to get back on track after the outbreak ends.
So it’s crucial for hoteliers and other travel industry leaders to make necessary preparations that will help them get back on track faster. This means having a crisis management plan in place and ensuring that you continue to provide undeterred customer service amidst the chaos to increase guest retention. An effective hotel crisis management plan will also help you prepare for other unprecedented situations.
Check out these tips for effective crisis management in the hospitality industry:
1: Anticipate Every Possible Emergency
The current pandemic isn’t the only type of emergency that your hotel will face. Think of every type of emergency that could possibly have an impact on your business and/or your guests’ staying experience. For example, a guest might forget to turn off the tap for their bathtub, which could then overflow and cause leakage for the floors below. So you’ll need to relocate some guests and incur heavy expenses to fix the flooring – both of which need protocols and financial preparations.
Besides facility malfunctions, you should anticipate emergencies due to natural events like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. Not to mention human-made emergencies like bomb threats, shootings, and chemical spills. Then come up with a response plan that coordinates with each type of emergency. Sometimes, different situations might also call for the same evacuation protocol.
2: Invest in Proper Training for Staff
All of your planning goes to waste if your staff isn’t in on it. Once you have a response plan in place, invest in proper training for your staff so that everyone’s on the same page. It’s crucial to align your understanding of what each employee needs to do in a certain situation.
In addition, make sure you have a guideline in place for how they should communicate with guests and personal connections about the topic.
3: Prioritize Communication
No matter your response plan, communication should be at the center. Lack of communication will only breed fear and assumption, which will be difficult to manage after a certain point. Here are a few tips for navigating the issue through communication:
► Maintain a strong social presence – whether or not you’re still open for business. If you are, reassure guests about the precautionary steps you’ve taken to avert the crisis. If not, proactively provide guests with the latest updates that might be of interest to them and reassure them about your attempts to control the situation.
► Omnichannel communication is vital. Make sure that you get your message across through every channel possible so that it reaches everyone. This includes social media, emails, SMSes, etc.
► Automate your communication using email workflows so you can keep engaging your guests with the latest updates (or lack thereof). Use this to notify them of any changes in their upcoming booking or reassure them in case there aren’t any.
► Set up automated chatbot responses so your guests can always clarify their doubts at all hours of the day.
► Whatever you do, avoid going dark or steering away from the topic as you could risk frustrating your guests. Maintain honesty and transparency to garner trust.
4: Provide Travel and Safety Tips Regularly
Whether or not you’re still open for business, this is the most crucial time to show your guests that you care. Prove your value by providing them with travel and safety tips regularly and link to any FAQs if necessary. You could do this over email, social media, or even through push notifications.
Besides these hotel crisis management tips, note that you should also be prepared to handle any cancellations. Even when that happens, make sure you prioritize delivering a seamless cancellation experience. Consider waiving cancellation fees in times of crisis. You could even replace your existing cancellation email with one that offers a discount for future bookings to increase guest retention.