The Turkey Bombings this past weekend demonstrated the worst of our society. In my lodging class this week, we are weaving the elements of communication, security, and safety. We are examining the effects of current events such as the Boston Marathon Bombings, 9/11, and other crises on hotel management. What should you do in the event of….? Bringing reality into the classroom. The probability of such a crisis happening on their watch might be relatively low, but in today’s world, you can’t think like that. You can’t think that something like this can’t happen in your neck of the woods. Every contingency should be addressed, and preparation taken. My old health ed teacher, Mr. Matsko, used to say, as probably my parents, who grew up in the age of World War II, and the Cold War, “it is better to be prepared, to be safe rather than sorry.”
Action plans must be developed for every type of emergency. You never know what will happen, whether you are a tourist or work in this industry. You may be called upon to act. You may be the one to ensure that your guests survive. You can’t rely on others to prepare, take the initiative and inform yourself on procedures. You can’t run away from responsibility. The ramifications and implications are far-reaching to your operation, your organization and yes, we know we don’t like to talk about it, but also the financial side.
I can see the look in their eyes now as I stand in front of the classroom, the look that tells me, “Wait, I have to do what?”
“I have to do all these tasks?”
“I have to remember all of this?”
How do you prepare, tell me what to do? How do I be an effective manager? I can’t give you everything. Sometimes it is experience (which I hope they never have) that gives you the confidence, and the ability to act. Some have an innate ability, and capability. Others, it takes time.
I can only give them so much. The way I prepared for this, is I armed myself with information. I actively read about these situations, and consider questions. I took courses, I talked to friends, and I have experience. For instance, the Boston Bombings, happened near several hotels, one in which I worked during my internship. My first question that filtered through my head, is what did they do? How did each level of the organization handle guests? What was the scene like? What would I do in this situation?
If you are in a position of leadership, in all of its varied forms, others will be looking to you for direction. During stressful, difficult times, the cream does rise to the top, and people will surprise you. In honesty, on certain things, I don’t know how I would act. I just hope I am prepared for anything. And working in this industry for as long as I have, I have been witnessed to a host of nastiness. It has changed me, and helped, and hindered my point of reality, and what I am capable of.
Do my students think like this? Do they ask the right questions? Do they visualize themselves in this scenario in their minds, and plant themselves there, run through what possibly could happen?
I’m a writer by avocation, and professionally. I create worlds, and incidents that challenge my characters. Most of my heroes, and heroines, are modeled after my own personality traits (Not all…). I ask them, given these traits, what would you do? How would you react?
I am an avid reader of genres that are close to what I like to write in order to learn the craft. Any manager in our industry that wants to develop to be top of their game needs to READ! Needs to find out how others reacted to these scenarios and learn.
Be proactive not reactive. Therefore, you must engage in some mental preparation and construct plans to address crises. And then you must test yourself. Test your employees, train and test. Finally, reflect on actions, and adapt.
Again, another favorite saying is, “Do not put off what you can do today…tomorrow…it may be too late.”