The magnitude 6.0 earthquake that hit the popular wine country area of Napa a few days ago is cause for the resort industry to pause and reflect. A disaster like this can be hard on tourism. Fortunately in this case, there were no deaths and mostly minor injuries due to the quake (the biggest seismic activity in the area in 25 years), but many wineries, wine stores, hotels and restaurants were affected. Area wineries closed to take stock of their losses, and some suffered big losses—B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen lost 50% of their stock. Restaurants and hotels are finding it difficult to get supplies as damage to infrastructure caused by the quake itself, and emergency crews working non-stop, inhibit entry into the area. So what's a resort owner to do when disaster strikes?
Communication is Key
It is important to get out the information about the disaster quickly and make sure everyone who could be affected knows what’s happened and what is being done to correct any problems. Use social media sites, company blogs, and newsletters, as soon as disaster strikes to help quell any rumors and controversy about safety issues, and to provide ongoing information to owners and guests of what is being done to assure their safety and protect their investment.
For this reason, Grand Pacific’s Riverpointe Napa Valley Resort was quick to get out information using Facebook that the resort was okay and sustained only minor damage from the quake. Riverpointe alerted guests that the resort was currently in clean up mode and that the electricity was back on. In their post, they also assured guests that they would provide more information as soon as they had it.
When a fire struck Occidental Vacation Club’s Allegro Cozumel earlier this month, OVC President Luis Namnum posted a personal letter to members on social media filling them in on all the important details of the fire. His letter made sure members knew that the fire was put out quickly and that there were no casualties. He also let members know exactly what structures had been affected, and that an emergency evacuation plan was in place and used to move Allegro Cozumel's guests to another nearby OVC resort. He further assured members that OVC's Customer Service Center would be contacting them with more details.
Banff Gate Mountain Resort's site staff was quick to respond to a devastating storm that hit Alberta, Canada in 2013. The storm, called "Alberta’s worst-ever", was a major natural disaster that caused severe flooding, damaged infrastructure, knocked out power and communication, blocked roadways and closed airports. The staff met the challenge head on with ongoing communications with owners that expressed genuine concern for owner’s safety. The responsible transparency that the staff used in communicating during the disaster, and the care and comfort that the staff provided, left a positive impression. Owners and guests expressed their appreciation in many letters and posts to the resort’s parent company Grand Pacific Resorts.
Lemons into Lemonade
Who can forget the sinkhole that swallowed several buildings at Exploria’s Summer Bay Orlando Resort in August of 2013? The pictures of the scary sinkhole collapse made national news. At the time of the collapse, the resort was working with Extreme Engineering on the high action adventure park Buccaneer Bay, in their effort to expand the overall resort experience to include every member of the family. The sinkhole, filled of course, provided extra land for the adventure park. The park, along with the renovation of all 500 guest rooms, and the addition of a 10,000 square foot Activities Center, is hoped to provide an additional marketing draw and minimize any negativity surrounding the sinkhole.
"Safety and security are the most important issues to travelers and the first aspect they consider is to be protected from hazards," according to a research report in review journal, Sage Open. The most significant components in dealing with disasters is emergency planning and preparedness. The best plans should also include the best ways to communicate quickly and openly with owners and guests, and the provisions needed to provide for the comfort and care of each individual.