Ignore Hotel Crisis Management Preparation at Your Peril

By Ed Fuller President, Laguna Strategic Advisors | March 24, 2019

Imagine yourself as the general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland. He recently faced a social media frenzy when an Instagram posting by a former guest alleged his hotel racially profiled and discriminated against him because two employees had him removed from the hotel for using his mobile phone in the lobby-all this despite his having proof of being a registered guest and your having internal processes and protocols in place to ensure you were maintaining a safe space for everyone.

Or maybe, you were the day manager last year at the Philadelphia Starbucks. He called police to arrest two men for trespassing at one of the chain's upscale downtown locations when they didn't order food or beverage while waiting for a third person for a business meeting. This episode also found its way onto social media and became topic Number One at water coolers around the country for months--thanks to another customer having his smart phone trained on the entire incident and posting it to his social media account.

Or what if you were the United Airlines representative who faced the media last year when images of a dead puppy appeared on Facebook and elsewhere when it was revealed that the puppy died after one of the company's flight attendants ordered its owner to put it and its TSA-approved kennel into an airless overhead bin for the duration of the flight.

Would you have been prepared to face the media without having all relevant facts in hand and when initial accounts are fluid? Would you have known what to say? Would you have been comfortable with your responses?

Each one of these incidents negatively impacted the companies and brands involved in terms of time lost trying to manage the crisis, negative hits to their company and brand reputations and money-at the corporate level as well for the local franchisee. With virtually everyone now having the capability of being an amateur "news reporter" thanks to their smart phone, the opportunity to brush an unpleasant situation "under the rug" and hoping it would simply go away, has long disappeared.

Sure, there are those who will tell you many corporations have weathered the negativity of a major crisis and bounced back without significant effort on their part. But a study in the Economist looked at eight corporate crises since 2012 and found that although the companies had survived, they were today valued at 30% less than they should have been compared to their peers. Could your enterprise absorb such a hit financially?

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.