Getting it right and getting it wrong – ourindustry knows how
- News Feed
- Monday, 12 December 2016
FIRST, assume a disaster strikes, either natural or man made.
Emergency services swing into action and information is shared with those immediately involved or in jeopardy. By and large the system works.
Almost at the same time, some in our industry start looking on the bright side.
That’s understandable. If you’re a regional or national tourist office, a MICE marketing agency, an airport operator, airline, hotel, PCO, DMC or other stakeholder, you don’t want your visitor traffic turned off by OTT instant 24/7 shock-horror news coverage on tv, radio and on line.
But industry voices should not say within hours that it’s ‘business as usual, don’t be worried, come and you’ll be welcomed’.
This happened in the case of NZ’s recent earthquake. A number of agencies circulated messages saying it was ‘just another earthquake, localised, sad but containable’.
While there was some truth in what they said, it was well shy of reality. Wellington, for example, was in much worse shape than first assessed, leading to building demolitions, closed roads and other disruptions.
But it’s not always that way. Christchurch Airport offered a textbook response following that city’s Big One in February 2011. Its executives explained calmly that things looked OK at the airport but they were going to check and double-check, allowing only emergency aid flights for a while. Back in full action later they confidently said that although the city was munted (ie, destroyed), the airport as a portal was OK and much of the South Island was too.
The airport’s executive did the right thing and travellers and the industry alike welcomed the way they handled the disaster. Their pause - to get all the information and put it in perspective – was a lesson for everyone in the same position.
Second, on a related topic: If there’s a time to pause, there’s also a time to speak. And some of us aren’t doing it well.
There’s a tendency for some in our sector to either not reply to phone calls and emails or to take such a long time that the query is obsolete. Too much email, they say, call you back, I’m on the way to the airport, in a train and can’t hear you properly…
It’s not just polite to respond to inquiries, there’s a reason for each attempted contact and we should respond promptly. It’s called doing business.
- Kelvin King