No matter where your hotel is located, you’re bound to encounter some sort of extreme weather. Whether you’re dealing with hurricanes, blizzards or tornadoes, it’s important to have a plan for handling this most unwelcome guest. Here are some tips to follow:
– Prepare for the worst: Before any problems arise, create an emergency action plan. Determine which weather conditions are most likely in your region, and what you need to do in case a storm hits. Keep necessary supplies well-stocked during the most dangerous months. If a storm is coming soon, figure out which area of the hotel is most secure and, depending upon the intensity of the storm, start preparing that room as a shelter. While some weather conditions may blow over and avoid your area entirely, it’s better to brace for the worst than to be underprepared for a catastrophic event.
– Keep information flowing: Make sure your guests are kept up to date as the situation develops. The nature of these updates depends entirely on the immediacy or severity of the storm. For dangerous weather situations, make announcements over the hotel intercom, have staff go room-to-room to check up on guests, or, if you have advance notice of the storm, hold “briefings” in your lobby, restaurant or ballroom. If the storm is predicted to hit in a few days or a week, provide daily printouts for your guests with the latest developments, as well as any potential actions that may need to be taken, such as evacuation plans, escape routes or maps to safe spaces within the hotel.
– Schedule and manage staff accordingly: Plan to communicate with all employees via text or other forms of written messaging, which is quicker and more efficient than making individual phone calls. Update all employees before and after the storm to make sure they’re on the same page and have the necessary information. Schedule extra staff in case you need them, but treat no-shows with more leniency than normal. After all, they might not be able to get to work, depending on the weather and timing. If your hotel has a medical response team or if any staff members know basic first aid, make sure they’re scheduled, just in case they’re needed.
– Accommodate guests as much as possible: If current guests want to extend their stay and you can accommodate them, do so. Otherwise, help them find other lodging. This also goes for helping guests with transportation options, such as flights or trains, which may be delayed or canceled. During this time, if you normally charge for Wi-Fi or computer usage, don’t. In case of a mandatory evacuation, help your guests get to safety. For voluntary evacuations, update visitors on transportation options and direct them to safety or shelters.
– Entertain guests: For storms that aren’t dangerous but keep people indoors – like blizzards or weak hurricanes – try to entertain your guests. After all, most of them are probably on vacation and looking to have a good time, and any entertainment will help distract them from the lousy weather. Host games or mixers, or show movies, if you have the proper equipment.