How Hotels Can Craft a COVID-19 Communications Plan

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions. In the current downturn, hoteliers are having to deal with contingencies on a scale they’ve never encountered before. With a constantly shifting environment as the situation evolves, it can be hard to stay ahead of the game and on top of the details.

During a crisis or emergency situation, how you respond is just as important as when. Transparency is key: Set yourself up for successful recovery and careful mitigation of the situation by having a plan in place and communicating that plan effectively and efficiently to your employees and event planners.

Here are a few resources to help you develop a communications plan for times like these, and how to respond and recover during a crisis or emergency situation.

Resilient: A Deloitte Podcast on Crisis Response and Recovery

Deloitte has created a special podcast series focussing on crisis management and risk assessment as it relates to COVID-19. Each episode features actionable insights hoteliers can use to help formulate a plan on what to do now — and next.

This episode on crisis response and recovery brings together Deloitte risk intelligence leaders to share first-hand insights on how to manage the unfolding situation and even embrace innovation in the current unpredictable environment.

The discussion delves into what a crisis management team and command centre look like and the different roles each individual plays. When a crisis is evolving faster than the speed of response, the Deloitte experts advise having a plan or a team in place to help mitigate this. Organisation is especially important if you’re working with a reduced team of hotel marketing professionals. Making sure each team member knows what to do and when is essential to staying ahead of the game – and above the chaos.

The podcast also dissects decision-making when under pressure and in times of stress, or when you might not be equipped with all of the information you’d have in normal times before making a decision. The experts provide advice for those who have had to shut down critical business operations, as well as advice for leaders who are leading through an extraordinarily uncertain time and what they can do now to build a more resilient organisation for the future.

You can listen to the podcast or download the transcript here.

Communication Strategies in Uncertain Times – A PCMA webinar

Increasingly, it’s critical for hoteliers and venue managers to have a cohesive crisis communications plan. If your event or venue is impacted, having a plan in place with tailored, targeted messaging can help you manage the situation. In this webinar from Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), Michael Wigent of Cisco shares how to deliver the right messages with the proper tone and communication channel when a crisis occurs.

To prepare for uncertain times, Wigent advises creating a plan for how you’ll respond to a crisis, and then practicing that plan regularly so that everyone knows their role and the part they’re expected to play. Being prepared and ready ahead of time is key – don’t wait for a crisis to happen first. You won’t be able to plan for every possible contingency, but you can pre-plan communication statements and create a plan with a broad scope that you can then adjust to fit the situation. Have these things ready to go so you’re not creating them on the fly.

An important element to crisis communications is establishing a consistent message and distributing it widely. Wigent suggests having one centralised team, leader and message. Consistency is key to mitigating confusion and guarding your brand reputation. Any message that is distributed to any audience, says Wigent, make sure that it’s prepared for widespread distribution. Even if the messaging is only meant for an internal audience, during times like these, word can get out. So, make sure any communications you send out are appropriate and on-message if they get picked up by an unintended audience. In the webinar, Wigent goes further into how to create your team, what it should look like, what individual responsibilities are, and how to craft messaging for internal and external audiences.

Wigent also touches on social media monitoring and how to publicise and post about the current situation. During times of crisis, planners want updates and rapid responses. You are viewed as the expert source and response for your hotel. Planners expect you to be the trusted provider and to have the information they need. Establishing trust starts with consistent communication and messaging. Wigent also provides ideas for how to leverage hashtags to monitor content, craft timely responses, and focus your message.

Additional Resources

Regular communication to all parties from a centralised team is a staple of crisis communications. This article from the Harvard Business Review outlines five steps for how to communicate and come up with a plan during an emergency situation or crisis.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention provides a microsite, among other resources, where you can choose content, widgets, podcasts, infographics, and other elements to embed directly onto your own website. This could be a great way to keep planners up to date on the latest information available straight from reliable sources.

Read How Hotels Are Helping Employees, Guests During COVID-19


Cvent

Written by Cvent

Cvent is a market-leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with more than 4,300 employees, 27,000 customers, and 300,000 users worldwide.