With hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters affecting many areas of the country, it’s a grim reminder disaster can strike at any time. No matter where you are in the country, there are both inherent natural threats, and the chance for manmade catastrophes too.
As hoteliers, you must be ready in times of emergency to both care for guests and run the property as if were a typical day. When it comes to weather events or fires, for example there is typically some warning of the impending crisis. This gives hoteliers some time to prepare. According to Jordan Jones, Technical Services Manager, with SkyTouch Technology, built in features of the SkyTouch Hotel OS® were designed for such scenarios.
“The program was designed with the understanding that an internet connection may go down, and a user may be unable to reach the application for whatever reason,” said Jones.
A cloud-based PMS, such as The SkyTouch Hotel OS, regularly downloads emergency reports to a specific pre-assigned machine. Plus, it is periodically refreshed. Reports include an arrivals list, blank registration forms, folios due for check out, and some financial reporting functionality.
Also, if the hotel’s power is out, and credit cards cannot be processed through the PMS, SkyTouch Hotel OS users can simply call in to a special number to get an authorization. Those authorizations will then be tied to individual guest accounts once system is up and running when electricity is restored.
Jones also recommends printing out any reports you need beyond the automated emergency ones, to better prepare you for potential downtime.
We also reached out to Daryl J. Hultquist, Director Pricing and Revenue Optimization at Choice Hotels, to seek his expertise on what the hotel chain does when disaster strikes. He says, “Revenue Management needs to react, immediately and consistently.”
- Have a disaster plan. This emergency bible should be put together long before a potential disaster. When an emergency does it occur, the disaster plan has previously approved policies meeting legal muster that can be immediately put into place. A strong disaster plan takes out the guesswork with specific procedures that staff can easily follow. The plan explicitly dictates how to operate the hotel in a disaster, as well as how pricing strategy will change. This involves knowing the laws around price gouging, while ensuring only authorized individuals are making pricing and inventory decisions.
- When a major weather event is predicted: If a Hurricane, or other potential emergency event is on the horizon, communication with all stakeholders becomes essential. This is the time to make sure that everyone is following established guidelines, and also reinforces policies established in the disaster plan.
- Adhere to predetermined pricing: Stick closely to already published prices for those specific days. While discounts can be removed, it is smart to keep prices in check. This will eliminate even a whiff of impropriety.
- The competition: If you see competitors raising rates around you, that does not make it legal or ethical for your property to do the same. Again, keep prices in check.
- Disable system features: When using a cloud based management system such as the SkyTouch Hotel OS, be sure to disable revenue management features that automatically adjust BAR rate upwards as demands soars. This could lead you to accidently breaking laws established during State of Emergency periods.
- Stay focused: Remember that the hotel team will need to be focused on guest and associate safety and may not be reachable during emergency situations. Be calm and patient. If you have a plan in place that will help you determine where on property staff will be during the event.
The good news is that with a cloud-based system like SkyTouch Hotel OS, even if your hotel is damaged, you can still handle your reservations and rates from almost anywhere, with an internet connected device.