In the wake of the shocking devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, it’s important that hotel operators across the globe recognize the need to assess whether their property is prepared to weather a powerful storm. Unfortunately, far too many hoteliers believe their team would know what to do in an emergency, but few take the time to create a hotel natural disaster plan and train their staff on how to implement it.
If that sounds familiar, you certainly aren’t alone. Luckily, you can start developing your plan today.
Understanding a Hotel Natural Disaster Plan
Creating a hotel natural disaster plan is something you should do now – long before a hurricane is bearing down or tornado watch is issued. After all, preparedness requires planning.
A comprehensive hotel natural disaster plan covers many different aspects of emergency preparedness, including:
- The preparations your employees will need to take to secure the property.
- The information you’ll need to communicate to guests (and how you’ll do it).
- The actions your guests will have to take to ensure their safety.
- The plan for weathering the storm (and communicating during the storm).
- The process for recovering once the threat passes.
Getting Started with Your Natural Disaster Plan
It can feel overwhelming to create a natural disaster plan for your hotel, but the hardest part is knowing where to start. Here’s how we suggest launching the project.
Understand the Severe Weather Risks in Your Area. Planning for a natural disaster means understanding the severe weather risks for your location. That may sound elementary, but many hoteliers/corporate owners don’t live where the hotel operates. Keep in mind, a hotel natural disaster plan that covers every possible weather event is more likely to be seen as a formality – and ultimately ignored.
Determine Your Property’s Risks. Walk the grounds of your property imagining dangerous winds, flash floods, and/or violent strikes of lightening. What do you see? Where are the risks? For example, some of your outdoor assets could easily become hazards (such as chairs and umbrellas), while others may have been engineered to withstand heavy winds and rain (such as commercial-grade cabanas). Creating an impactful plan means knowing what needs to be done.
Considerations for Creating Your Hotel’s Natural Disaster Plan
Now that you understand the risks you, your employees, and your guests may have to face, you can start creating an action-oriented plan. Here are some considerations to think about – but keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list (by any means).
- What do your employees need to do to prepare and create the safest environment possible? Assign roles by department and create a prioritized checklist so nothing gets overlooked.
- What supplies will your employees need to secure the property (like properly sized plywood)? Talk with each department to get their input and then keep those items in storage.
- How will you communicate with your guests? This is just as important as securing the physical space. Guests need to know what they should and shouldn’t do, where they should go, and what they should expect. Consider having printed guidelines for your employees to distribute.
- Where will employees get their information? Set-up a “Command Center” where employees know they can find key managers and get updated information. Accurate information is key for minimizing chaos.
- What emergency supplies will you need to weather the storm? Keep a stock of all the necessities and keep an updated inventory of relevant stock (including expiration dates). Making a last-minute run to the grocery store won’t be realistic.
- What’s the emergency evacuation plan? How and when will guests be directed to evacuate, where will they go, and what will you need (vans, etc.) to facilitate the evacuation process? Remember to bring supplies if possible.
- How will the outside world (including guests’ friends and family) get information? If your PR and/or Marketing teams are onsite, get them situated in the command center, so they can provide updates on the website and/or social media channels.
- Will employees’ families be able to come to the hotel? You’ll have to keep your employees’ needs in mind, too.
Remember, safety is the #1 goal of emergency preparedness planning. So, when a natural disaster strikes, you want to make sure your team is able to operate like a well-oiled machine.
Related Reading: The Increasing Importance of Durable Resort & Beach Cabanas.
Are Your Cabanas Able to Withstand Your Location’s Severe Weather Risks?
At Resort Cabanas (a division of Eide Industries, Inc.), we specialize in designing, manufacturing, and engineering custom commercial cabanas and pre-engineered options. With almost 80 years of extensive design, construction, metal fabrication, industrial sewing, and installation experience, we are proud to offer the highest quality products possible, made right here in the U.S.