When a destination faces an unexpected event, whether it’s a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or political instability, the first question holidaymakers ask is ‘Should we stick to our plan?’ As a knee-jerk reaction, many will cancel their bookings, while some might want to monitor the situation more closely before taking a decision.
These unfortunate situations lie beyond the control of hoteliers and hotel staff. However, how hotels conduct themselves and how they handle guest concerns is of paramount importance and will dictate the quality of the relationship with their guests.
Learning to manage communications with guests as well as staff during a crisis will help you sustain your business in the long run. Follow our list of tips to help you improve your communication skills to deal with guest concerns and prepare your team for future emergencies.
Communications with hotel staff
Provide professional training programmes to your staff to educate and equip them with the right set of skills to handle different crises. Whether it’s a fire, a bomb threat, or a natural disaster, preparing your staff ahead of time will empower them with the necessary skills and the confidence to conduct themselves in an emergency. Ensuring all staff members know safety procedures in times of a crisis is mandatory.
Appoint a crisis team
Crises don’t inform anyone before they knock on your door. Being prepared for any kind of situation will always help you in the long run. Select members who are proactive, good at thinking on their feet, and will create a contingency plan for emergencies. Most importantly, they need to take the responsibility of guiding the rest of the team in the event of an emergency. Preparing a crisis communication plan will also come in very useful. Being prepared and proactive will help your business weather these storms.
Manage staff morale
This is perhaps one of the first things an establishment thinks of during a crisis. In addition to the financial impact on the business, the situation may also have an effect on your staff’s psychological state. Managing your staff’s morale and encouraging them to keep up the good work is very important in difficult times. Maintaining open communication and helping your staff understand that you are in this together with them will create a sense of unity and teamwork that will be invaluable when your business bounces back.
Communications with hotel guests
Contact your guests before they reach out to you. Not only will this shine a positive light on your hotel but also show guests that their safety is of highest importance to you.
Communicate clearly and transparently
Being honest and clear in your communication to your guests about the situation in the country is very important. If your hotel is not in the vicinity of the incident, it’s important that you include it and inform guests that the hotel did not incur any damage. In the event that your hotel is situated close to where the event transpired, be honest about this, and the security situation. You might lose reservations by being honest, but being transparent in a crisis is always important. Guests have the right to make informed decisions.
Guests may request to cancel their bookings, which is inevitable in a crisis. For guests who may still show an interest in keeping their bookings, or have bookings far in the future, assure them that you will do your best to keep them informed with the latest developments.
Maintaining open communication with employees and guests is vital. Make time to answer questions and concerns raised by both parties.
Understandably, many guests tends to cancel their bookings and holidays entirely when a country they are hoping to visit experiences a devastating event. While you cannot control cancellations, provide your guests with the freedom to cancel it closer to the booking date and promise to keep them informed of the ground situation routinely. This may help you sustain the booking instead of receiving an immediate cancellation.
Consider relaxing policies
Hotel managements need to be open to relaxing their in-house policies in the event of an emergency. In these situations, always remind yourself that ensuring the safety and well-being of your guests and staff is of the utmost priority.
Social media updates
In the event of a crisis, deviate from your normal social media planning process and provide updates on your platform to keep your guests and followers informed. Ensure that your brand voice is maintained and that your message is consistent throughout any messages posted.