Not a day goes by when “business as usual” is not disrupted by the unexpected. The unexpected can take many forms: airline crashes, cyberattacks, hurricanes, power outages and even heinous criminal acts including human trafficking.
While many of these catastrophic occurrences cannot be avoided, most of the damaging effects can be mitigated through a well-thought-out crisis management plan. That process begins with the CEO, who has the authority to engage both management and employees at all levels.
In the hospitality industry, the mantra always has been to deliver the best guest experience possible. Almost without exception, executives extol the virtues of anticipating the ever-changing customer landscape through the launch of new brands and elevating the hospitality experience.
Yet all of this customer goodwill and brand-building can be erased in the fleeting moments following a catastrophic event. The recent collapse of the Hard Rock hotel under construction in New Orleans and the 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas both have long-lasting consequences due to a lack of effective and timely responses by those organizations’ respective senior leadership.
Effective crisis management begins with the executive suite fully engaged and committed to an established crisis protocol. At the top of the list is a clearly defined chain of command with triggers that can be seamlessly executed, in real time, to address the situation at hand. Equally important is empowerment and training at all levels to quickly respond.
The fundamentals of a well-thought-out crisis management plan should include the following elements:
- Executive level commitment to set the plan in motion
- Clearly defined protocols for what constitutes a crisis
- An established and up-to-date chain of command
- Empowerment of key functional areas to make swift decisions and deploy resources to mitigate further damage
- Proper training by professionals at all levels
- Scheduled practice drills or simulations at least once each year
What actions are taken within the first few minutes of a crisis can make the difference between chaos and an orderly recovery, and ultimately, returning to business as usual.
David Trumble is principal of Integrated Crisis Management Solutions, an organization composed of security operatives and communications professionals offering risk assessments, streamlined emergency protocols, management training, customer/media relations and recovery programs.