Dr. Peter Tarlow
This is one edition of Tourism
Tidbits that you hopefully will
never need, but definitely want to keep. No matter how good your risk
management may be, the bottom line is that from time to time bad things
happen. No matter what we do, natural disasters such as hurricanes and
earthquakes occur, people get sick, a crime happens or a terrorism
at the most unlikely place and at the least expected times. When
unforeseen circumstances happen, it is essential to have developed a
continuity plan. No two tourism destinations or attractions are
alike and therefore perhaps the first thing to remember about a good
plan is that it must be tailored-made to fit your particular
circumstance. Do not simply use someone else's or a boilerplate
What may work in one location may simply not work in another location.
this need for individualization, please consider the following ideas.
- Tourism is about being
caring and concerned.
Therefore any tourism continuity plan must put people first. If
is only focused on keeping your business going without thinking about
business' needs and your visitors needs, then the plan will be only
- Bad things do happen.
Take the time to think about your worse case
scenarios. If you could not operate your business, how long would
survive? What financial obligations will you have to meet, even
if no one
walks through the door or comes to visit your community. What
do if your employees take sick, or transportation services to your
- Have a written continuity
plan that is understandable to others.
Many managers assume that they will be the one to hold their business
tourism local together in case of emergency. The problem is that
tourism executives are also people and things can also happen to
Write out as much as possible and make sure that you leave the plan in
easily accessible place.
- Review your plan with your
There may be a whole host of insurance options that can insure
continuity for a
very low cost. While an insurance policy cannot provide 100%
having the right insurance may mean the difference between continuity
- Review this plan on a
regular basis. No matter
how good your continuity plan may be, as soon as you have written it,
that it is already outdated. Tourism is one of the least static
businesses; it is always in a constant state of change. This
your business continuity plan must be examined on a regular basis and
to date as much as possible.
- Be creative in your
business plan. Make sure
that you think not only about all sorts of things that could go wrong,
remember that in tourism we will have to maintain our sense of
during and after the crisis. Thus you will need to not only think about
internal communications system, but how your guests will communicate
friends and relatives during the crisis. Ask yourself how you
people, what special needs will visitors have and how you may have to
people who speak a foreign language.
- Remember that tourism is
as much about perceptions as facts.
That means that as part of your continuity plan, you must have a media
information plan. The media can paint a story with a positive or
Should the media portray your locale in a negative light; then they can
your business recuperation much more difficult. To guard against that
potential, incorporate your guests into the continuity plan so that
your allies rather than your foes.
- Determine where your
continuity weak points are and be ready to
deal with these issues before all else fails.
Every locale has several weak points. It may be a road network, the
the airport is close to the sea or vulnerable to a breach of security,
be that hotel food services are not up to par or that there is
medical attention in your community. Know these weak points and
you will continue should a disaster occur.
- Make sure everyone knows
what his or her role is, and how to
replace at least one other player should that be necessary.
A crisis is not the time to hold philosophical discussions; there needs
one person in charge who gives the orders and has an overall view of
situation. Prior to developing a continuity plan, players should be
speak their minds, but once the plan needs to go into action, second
becomes counter productive. On the other hand, all participants
continuity plan are liable to not be able to perform, for any number of
reasons. Therefore protect the plan by creating player redundancies, if
person cannot assume the responsibility then there is a back-up person
his or her shoes.
- Understand the importance
Redundancy is having multiple plans in place so that if for some
back-up system does not work, there is a second one to back-up the
system. Redundancy systems not only work as an insurance policy
help to lower the chances of fear and panic. Guests need to know that
authorities are in control, have a plan and have taken the time to care
only about property and profits but also about them.
About the Author:
Peter E. Tarlow is the President of T&M, a founder of the Texas
TTRA and a popular author and speaker on tourism. Tarlow is a
specialist in the
areas of sociology of tourism, economic development, tourism safety and
Tarlow speaks at governors' and state conferences on tourism and
seminars throughout the world and for numerous agencies and
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