Damaging Effects of Negative Media Exposure
|by Joe Blee, March 2006
Not much spreads faster than bad news. One negative story, one angry customer, one accident or even one close call and the result can be a battered bottom line, tarnished brand name, or worse, a closed business.
Resorts, hotels and others in the hospitality recreational industry, along with restaurant owners, are particularly at risk for the damaging effects of negative media exposure.
Here’s a very real scenario: A customer contracts a food-borne illness that is linked to a particular restaurant and the business takes an instant hit. Even if drastic measures are taken by management to solve the problem and make amends, sometimes the story is damaging, both to the restaurant and to any related chains in other states. Bad news spreads quickly.
Another example: a guest at a prestigious hotel becomes ill from what is discovered to be Legionnaires’ Disease and wide-spread publicity havoc ensues. The hotel moves guests to a new hotel and closes temporarily. There’s a thorough clean-up job, but by the time they’re ready for business, the damage done may already be too severe. It takes months, even years to recover and recoup the monetary loss.
In either case, a kind of unseen damage may have affected the reputation of the restaurant or the hotel. Will this news seep into the public psyche like so many other negative stories in the past? How many of us have vivid memories of litigation over a hot cup of coffee? Or how about the original Philadelphia location where the original Legionnaires’ outbreak took place?
Given enough time on the nightly news, in newspapers or now across the internet, these stories can leave a lasting mark in the minds of the average traveler, guest and consumer. Businesses have discovered that American customers have very good memories when it comes to bad news.
So how do you handle a worst-case scenario? When it comes to the management of bad news and the adverse media exposure that comes with it, proactive precautions are far better then best-effort reactions.
The following is a short list of guidelines to help you make sure your hotel or restaurant is ready for any “what if.”
Recently, a new product has been made available that does cater to this exact need. Offering coverage for profit loss, this product also offers public vaccinations, business restoration, crisis management programs and incident response expenses. It may also provide marketing and media expertise in response to business interruption caused by a food-borne illness outbreak or other health situations at the business location.
Food-borne illnesses and other health concerns at hotels, resorts and hospitality venues are not just mere possibilities. They are, in reality, a very real part of life. These issues will always be potential hazards.
As a result, hospitality managers and executives are left with two key variables: constantly taking precautions to keep these health hazards at bay and, knowing how to properly handle an emergency should one strike.
|Also See:||Florida's Department of Health Issues Final Report Concerning Alleged Food Poisoning at Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys / August 2005|
|Survey: Scalding Water Found in Nearly 90% of Hotel Rooms; Legionella also a Risk / December 2004|
|Chili's Grill & Bar Facing More Lawsuits Over Salmonella Outbreak; Health Officials Claim Dishwashing Sanitizer Stopped Working Several Days Before the Outbreak / June 2004|