Written by Sara Lynn Burnett, CoralRange
We all know that hurricane preparation work and having sound emergency produces and policies in place that cover everything from evacuation to events during the storm should be well-known, well-practiced, and in place long before a hurricane nears your resort.
But what about getting your hotel and your business back on its feet afterwards? In the lead up to the storm, during, and afterwards while you face the daunting task of recovery and repairs don’t forget that there is going to be a psychological impact from the disaster in the minds of potential visitors that could, if not properly minded, affect your business for years afterwards.
Before the Hurricane – Check in with your social media manager and web master. Are you putting up notices? Is the resort closing? What is going to be your response to questions about the impending storm on public social media posts? Make sure you don’t have sunny beach images scheduled for when the storm hits. Have a standard response in place for those inquiring into your storm preparations and guest safety.
During the Hurricane – Be extra mindful of the guests who got stuck with you in storm. Guests are eager to communicate with the outside world during and after a disaster as evidenced by TripAdvisor reviews such as this one titled ‘Safety and Luxury Even During a Hurricane.’ Open your rooms for displaced people, be it locals or tourists who were in less-fortunately located hotels. Displaced guests’ stays are usually covered by insurance or relief funds.
Right After the Hurricane – Open your doors to utility crews and other essential services personnel. Scott Warner, VP of operations at Peachtree Hotel Group whose hotels took a hit after Hurricane Katrina, housed local energy providers at one of their locations and they ended up being reconnected first. “We said absolutely yes, and within 24 hours we were up with power. It was fantastic. We didn’t have power in the food and beverage spaces, but all the guestrooms did,” said Warner.
Once the utility crews left the hotels also hosted law enforcement officers and relief workers. (via Hotel News Now). It’s important to remember that news agencies and people share those stories, and good deed and positive news after a natural disaster are rarely forgotten.
After the Hurricane – Never underestimate the laws of supply and demand. Reach out to hotels that have to close during the short and medium term for repairs and see what you can work out with regards to their displaced guests. If you find that you need to close for a few months due to hurricane damage, take care of the guests that booked with you and make sure they still have options for a holiday on your island.
Ongoing – As previously mentioned, a percentage of potential, future guests may want to write off the Caribbean after hurricane season, however, there are things you can do to give them peace of mind and ensure that your resort is still on their bucket list. Install webcams so that guests can judge for themselves that your balmy breeze and calm seas are back. Forgo the photo-shopped marketing imagery and show real-time images from your property proving that you and your island are open for business.
Your business and your island’s tourism market needs to survive after the hurricanes so don’t lose sight of your long-term strategy.