By Antonio Fungairiño
For hotel and resort owners and operators across the Caribbean hurricanes, typhoons and other potential natural disasters are an unavoidable reality – and an essential part of the business equation. In fact, if they are not a core consideration in your operational plans, or if you are not experienced, focused, and relentless in the way that you prepare for them and recover, then your investments – and most importantly your guests – are in critical danger.
When it comes to resorts in hurricane-prone locations, particularly beachfront properties, expertly-implemented disaster preparation and recovery plans will mitigate damage from a storm, ensure the safety of guests and staff, and lessen the time it takes to return to profitability and successful everyday operations.
Here are some general considerations for your disaster and recovery operations:
Assemble an Emergency Management Team: As a hotel owner, you must look for management that not only has weathered storms and other disasters, but one that has a broad understanding of resort operations and guest relations. While the structure of your team will be unique to your property, it will include an overall team leader or coordinator, a communications officer, a liaison to all department leaders – each of whom will be closely involved, from guest relations to operations and maintenance.
Test the Plan and Train Your Staff: Your disaster management and recovery plan should be developed, published and broadcast to all resort staff, and it should be regularly reviewed and updated. The best plans will fail without the best training to accompany them. Every member of the resort staff should be involved in reviewing and practicing their specific roles in preparing for a recovering from a storm.
Prioritize Communications and Safety: During and after a storm, the safety of your guests and staff is of course paramount. Consistent communication with guests and employees prior to an event is essential; if evacuation is determined to be necessary according to protocol, your team will work with guests directly to arrange travel and shelter plans. After an event, information-rich communications with guests should continue, along with community and stakeholder outreach.
In fact, post-storm communications and education efforts are critical for the ability of your property to recover, since many potential visitors may be concerned about traveling to an area that has been hit by disaster. Only by reaching out to past guests and a targeted audience of future travelers can you help speed the recovery process, and help to boost visits to your area.