Preparing for Crisis Management in Tourism

Tourism is a fun industry. It’s vacations! People are having fun and aside from a few customer service issues, your organization may not have faced a crisis before. But no one is immune to a crisis and creating a plan is a simple investment now to ensure you’re prepared if anything happens. Preparing for crisis management in tourism involves four main points, and I’m going to call them FAST.

You know how a SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely? Crisis management needs to be FAST. It needs to involve Front line staff, Administration, being Sincere and being Timely. Use these four anchors to make sure your entire organization is prepped for smooth sailing in rough waters.

Prepare front line staff

No matter how prepared your leadership may be, the people interacting with your customers have the power to help or hinder in a time of crisis. If they’re not prepared and empowered, they could accidentally harm your efforts to rectify a situation.

It’s difficult to prepare for every situation that could possibly arise. The best way to ensure your frontline staff are empowered to help in a time of crisis is training. Equip them with customer service skills that they’ll use on a regular basis and should a crisis ever come up, they’ll be able to take it in stride. If they can handle customer issues in-person or on the phone, it’s less likely that those customers will remain disgruntled and take to the internet review channels.

Also make sure that your front line staff understand your organization’s mission and vision, and your brand voice. Great customer service is important, but they also need to have a grasp of how to approach situations based on the goals of the organization.

Administration acts quickly

Leadership needs a way to find out about situations as quickly as possible. And the response needs to be quick as well. Start by assessing the situation. Discuss the best way forward and once agreeing upon the solution, assign roles. Who is issuing the public apology? Overseeing refunds or individual outreach? Disseminating information to frontline staff? It’s all hand on deck to make sure this all happens fast and efficiently.

Sincere apologies are the only apologies

“Well, of course I will be sincere” you might be thinking now. I love my customers and if something happened I would absolutely feel sincerely sorry about it. However, genuine apologies sometimes fall into traps of protection or defense. It can be very difficult to accept full ownership of a problem that wasn’t entirely your fault. Or maybe there is public outcry and your organization leadership is feeling the need to defend themselves. It’s ok to defend or support if needed, but steer clear of being defensive. Work with your PR or marketing department to craft a statement that addresses the situation fully.

Be timely, everything will happen fast

As the hours and days tick by during a crisis, the complaints and public outcry can pile up. The longer it goes on, the more your social media channels will suffer, along with your review sites and the phone may ring and ring. Eventually, the news picks it up and all of a sudden there’s a national story.

The best time to respond to a crisis is within a few hours. After that, within a few days is also manageable. When it drags into weeks, or is handled through insincere apologies, that is when things get out of hand.

Note: Break the Ice Media is able to support current clients with any and all of these components. We are unable to provide these services outside of an existing client-agency relationship.