It happens to every organization at some point. Something sudden and unexpected happens which requires us to act. In tourism organizations, it can be as simple as a weather event which affects daily operation. Or as complicated as an event like the BP Oil Spill. Most disasters fall somewhere in between, but the key to survival is to have a plan and use the plan. Organizations who do not, often find themselves under more intense scrutiny and then, it’s easy to make mistakes.
- Taking too long to respond is the most common mistake made during a crisis. Communicate early and often, particularly in this 24/7, “always on” media environment.
- Getting angry with the media. It’s easy to lose your cool and the pressure from large volumes of media is unusual for most organizations, and they often have a hard time coping with it. Stay cool and you will survive.
- Internal panic – in the face of a disaster, you need every cool head and may need to calm down those who haven’t been through something like this before. This makes it even more important to create roles and responsibilities for the team members responding to the crisis.
- Dual roles – Many members of your leadership team will be wearing more than one hat during a crisis, which can complicate communication. Clarify as much as possible and afterward, figure out how to adjust roles for future events.
- Underestimating interest by the public – When you’re on the inside of a crisis, the level of detail that the media and public are requesting often seems out of line. Organizations still aren’t used to sharing so often and it takes some adjustments to accept.
- Leadership – This is the key to any organizations success or failure in a crisis. Whether it’s lack of leadership or, on the other hand, too many leaders, a crisis is the time for the best leader to step in and take the team through the process.
Identifying potential issues before a crisis strikes, will help an organization avoid them and master their next crisis.
This series is a resource for the 100 tourism professionals from around the state that I am working with this week on how to prepare in a crisis, as part of Travel and Tourism College. The week-long educational opportunity is an initiative of the Texas Tourism Industry Association (TTIA) and is now in its second year. Those who participate for 3 years will get certification as a tourism executive.