Destination Crisis Management – Is Your Plan Inclusive?
Travel & Tourism
The tourism industry is particularly vulnerable to the impact of natural and man-made disasters as evidenced in recent events such as the wildfires along the west coast and hurricanes that have impacted the coastline of Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. While the events are unavoidable, implementing a timely communications response is critical to retaining traveler confidence and community wide support. Without firm plans in place, a destination’s ability to recover, attract visitors and generate economic activity can be significantly delayed.
For destination marketing organizations developing plans, it helps to breakdown the response into four manageable phases that reflect the active recovery process.
- Demonstrate you’re actively engaged with community leaders by issuing timely updates in the hours leading up to the actual event
- Immediate Response
- Make initial destination assessments and develop a strong statement about the current conditions on the ground, including status of the initial recovery efforts
- Provide an ongoing assessment of recovery efforts from two perspectives
- Be clear about where the public can inquire about imminent or near-term reservation status
- Demonstrate progress from a destination-wide perspective
- Be sincere and empathetic by offering support for local business partners who are coping with both personal and professional loss
- Opening for Business
- Be forthcoming and factual by clearly communicating when the destinations is open for business and ready to welcome visitors
- Be realistic about what visitors can expect in terms of both infrastructure conditions and guest services
- Encourage Participation
- Encourage residents to visit local businesses – let them know they are active participants in the local economy
- Make a point to invite visitors back to the destination
- Give repeat visitors and brand advocates a way to aid in the recovery either by actively visiting or by supporting fundraising efforts
- Provide industry partners with the tools to help implement and bolster destination marketing and communications efforts
Consider working in partnership with Tourism Cares, a charitable organization that helps destinations in need, supports workforce and improves corporate social responsibility. Tourism Cares is currently fundraising under #GiveBetterTogether to support partnerships established with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Texas Travel Industry Association, adding national support for their regional efforts. Providing resources during and after disasters is critical for destinations. While tailored to a particular event, Tourism Cares’ efforts are focused on recovery investments to improve the visitor experience and quality of life at a destination once tourism has recovered. Additionally, organizations like Destinations International do a wonderful job of aggregating the multiple ways in which the public can help support destination recovery efforts.
The key to an effective communications plan is harnessing the power of both residents and visitors by asking for their active participation in the process. For more on developing effective crisis communication plans, read the LinkedIn post Crisis Communications: Are you ready for your next crisis? by our very own Sarah Schmidt, BVK Senior Earned Media Strategist.