Crisis isn’t always avoidable, and it can have an enormous negative impact on tourism and hospitality. While no two crises have the same demand for resources or time limitations, a clear strategy will be the key to recovering successfully and reducing damage to a destination or brand.
Yesterday I shared some thoughts with Forbes on crisis communication in an article entitled, The Dominican Republic Faces A Massive Battle to Regain Traveler Trust, surrounding the topic of rebuilding trust during a crisis.
“Recovery from any such incident requires the principal to be proactive and transparent from day one.”
He says, “As we know all too well, the tourism industry is susceptible to crises. Just in the last few months, we’ve had incidents on cruise ships, riverboats, airlines and destinations. Some of these may not be national incidents and can be more localized in their nature, but whichever way you look at it, crisis management and communications are paramount.”
In the case of the Dominican Republic, he says, in the first phase, “They need to provide correct and consistent information to the media using all media platforms. We live in an era when social media means any story is fast moving, immediate and has the capacity to go viral.”
He adds, “Both the destination and hotel or resort have to be straight forward with the media and have clear helpful statements on their websites. Any consumer today will do their own research and the first place they will go is the destination website and then to the resort’s site. The consistency of messaging is crucial.”
In terms of using statistics to mitigate the crisis, he says, “While I have seen comments in the media from the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism spokespeople on how the actual number of deaths are down this year, this comment doesn’t actually address the issue or concerns, and they must get ahead of the issue,” adding, “It is no good being in denial.”
Phase two, he says, is rebuilding the reputation of both hotel and resort companies concerned and the destination, something that may take a year or more and needs to address the consumer, tour operator community and travel advisors.
Bates says, “No travel advisor will ever put a client at risk, so if they are not certain of a destination they will choose another. Similarly, if an advisor has doubts about a hotel or resort they will choose another property.”
He recommends an integrated strategy of regular media briefings, influencer visits, a paid digital and print campaign and for the trade detailed briefings carried out in key cities and through a series of webinars.
Recovery marketing is certainly a long-term endeavor, but having the proper initial response is a critical step in rebuilding consumer trust. Read the full Forbes article by clicking here. I’d love to hear what you think. Let’s keep the conversation going!