5 Tips for Effective Travel Crisis Management
Did you foresee the swift impact of Coronavirus on your travel program? Were you ready for the flood of information, the questions from your travelers, the rapidly changing restrictions? If you're looking for advice on how to improve your crisis management plan, this is a great place to get started.
1. DEFINE A CRISIS SITUATION
Defining what scenarios fall into a crisis category will help you understand and manage for each situation. A crisis situation can be broadly defined as something extraordinary or outside of the normal hazards of flying or travel. A crisis generally cannot be mitigated in advance or planned for, and requires immediate action. These could include the evacuation of an airport due to a threat, natural disasters such as hurricanes, potential or occurring violence or unrest, political instability, or even criminal and gang threats in the area, all of which can lead to significant travel delays or cancellations. Of course, there are also the normal personal events like injuries, unscheduled trips to the hospital, or sudden illness that can potentially also fall under the crisis category.
A crisis situation would not include things such as a flight getting delayed because of weather or an individual needing to rebook a flight due to an accident on the road that slowed traffic to the airport. These are all normal risks associated with travel and do not typically rise to a crisis level.
2. PLAN IN ADVANCE FOR HOW YOU WILL HANDLE A TRAVEL CRISIS
If you expect to handle a crisis well, you need to plan. At the center of your plan is your crisis management team, which should be led by an executive sponsor. Each person should know in advance what actions they’re responsible for at what time. For instance, you may have one person designated for destination alerts, to keep abreast of potential disturbances (weather, political, etc.) in a location to which your team needs to travel. You may need to develop a policy that limits more than a specific number of employees or executives from traveling together on the same flights or trains. And you may want to have a communications plan laid out, with someone identified as having all key contact information for travelers. You can develop a crisis plan on your own or bring in an expert agency to guide you through the process.
3. COMMUNICATE COMPLETE INFORMATION TO KEY PARTIES
If you experience a transportation crisis, communication is your most vital tool. It is important to share all information and to communicate truthfully with all people involved. However, it is also important to carefully develop your messages, to make sure you’re saying exactly what you want to communicate. During a crisis, your audience will parse every word. You want to make sure your messages hit the mark — whether it's your employees, your shareholders, or the media.
4. KEEP THE COMPANY OPERATING AND MOVING FORWARD
During any kind of crisis, your business will need to continue to operate. And, business continuity may help reduce any lasting impacts of the crisis. While your crisis management team manages the crisis itself, it’s important that other key executives are assigned the responsibility of managing the business. This will ensure that while the crisis is being addressed, the company does not fall into further disarray due to distracted leadership and employees. This is a step not to miss in your planning efforts.
5. PLAN WITH YOUR PARTNERS/SUPPLIERS/VENDORS
Good agents have contacts all over the planet. Maintain those friendships and connections in good times, so you can count on their input during the bad times. Knowing precisely who to call in a crisis can be a tremendous comfort for all concerned, not to mention the most efficient use of time. Prepare a list of questions for all partners: Where can you find updates online? How can you contact the supplier? Is there a chat mechanism or other backup method of communication if the lines are busy? What protection is offered by the airlines? What are the ground handlers doing? What is the backup plan for hotels in destination?
Having a plan in place will help your organization keep your travelers secure and reduce risk. And we’re here to help. Join our webinar to discover more ways to manage a travel crisis and see how you can create an effective plan using your online booking tool to help support your efforts.