CRISIS MANAGEMENT – HOW READY ARE YOU?
It is important that you and your business have thought about what to do and how to interact with your guests before a crisis presents itself.
Possible crisis events that could affect your business include natural disasters (such as a bushfire or flood), or manmade events (such as a pandemic or chemical leakage).
An emergency can have a profound effect on a tourism business whether it directly impacts upon the business or simply occurs within the same region, state or country. Tourism regions are vulnerable to public perceptions of health and safety. An emergency in your area can potentially result in a downturn in visitation to your business.
Here are some useful resources from the authorities to guide your thinking.
CRISIS ESSENTIALS GUIDE
The Crisis Essentials Guide (2013) – Crisis management guide for tourism businesses aims to provide essential information to tourism businesses about how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis event. This guide will help you to get organised so you can recover more quickly from any emergency incident. It is important that your business has thought about what to do and how to interact with your guests before a crisis event presents itself.
TOURISM FIRE READY KIT
Visit Victoria and CFA have developed the Tourism Business Fire Ready Kit to assist businesses prepare for fire. It will help you understand your risks, prepare your business and employees, plan how to inform customers, identify their triggers to act and write a plan.
Hard copies of the Fire Ready Kit can also be ordered by contacting Visit Victoria on 03 9653 9777. For further fire planning information or support, visit cfa.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.
FIRE DANGER RATINGS
All tourism operators should be familiar with the triggers and recommended actions for Code Red, Extreme and Severe Fire Danger Ratings, which tell you how bad a fire would be if one started.
Download this important one-pager. http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/about-fire-danger-ratings/fire_danger_rating.pdf
Ratings are forecast using Bureau of Meteorology data for up to four days in advance, based on weather and other environmental conditions such as fuel load. During the warmer months, check Fire Danger Ratings for the Central Fire District every day so that you know when the local conditions are dangerous.
The rating is your prompt to take action to stay safe – and to make relevant fire information available to tourists in your care so that they can make their own informed decisions.
CODE RED BOOKINGS
In the event that a Code Red day is declared for the Central Fire District and you have guests booked into your accommodation or bookable activity, you may wish to consider the following:
- Alert visitors already in your care to the Code Red declaration as well as any visitors scheduled to stay in your accommodation on a Code Red day;
- Provide a copy of your local Community Information Guide (downloadable from http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/community-information-guides/ ) to help your visitors make their own informed decisions about what actions they will take on a Code Red day;
- If your guest wishes to cancel their booking – there is no explicit legislation governing cancellations in the event of a Code Red declaration – you should ensure you have decided on a consistent cancellation policy in this event. It is suggested that you attempt to maintain goodwill by negotiating to rebook the guest for another date.
The above steps would also be a prudent course of action if an Extreme Fire Danger Rating is issued.
GUIDANCE ON CUSTOMER CANCELLATIONS
As a tourism business, located in a high risk fire area, what are your rights and responsibilities when a customer cancels a booking and wants a refund? How do you maintain good customer relations in this situation, while still protecting your business? Consumer Affairs Victoria has worked with Visit Victoria to develop a guide on cancellation rights and responsibilities, including how to use a cancellation policy to avoid many potential problems. A cancellation policy should explain what happens if either you or a customer cancels a booking and must comply with the law.
Download the Consumer Affairs fact sheet: When customers cancel here: http://www.tourism.vic.gov.au/component/edocman/?view=document&task=document.download&id=417
UP-TO-DATE FIRE INFORMATION SOURCES
Stay informed via multiple channels and regular monitoring:
Tune into local ABC, commercial and community designated radio stations or Sky News TV
Call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line (VBIL) on freecall 1800 240 667
Deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment can contact VBIL via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677
For help with English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 (freecall) and ask them to telephone VBIL. If you know someone who cannot speak English, provide them with this number
Download the FireReady App and follow @CFA_Updates on Twitter (#VicFires) or Facebook www.facebook.com/cfavic
For info on road closures – Vic Roads www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
For info on park closures – Parks Victoria www.parks.vic.gov.au or 13 19 63