As the past two years have taught us, some curve balls are hard to anticipate. Others, like seasonal storms or flooding, are easier to plan for. But if you work in travel and tourism, risk is a given. From guests falling ill to out-of-the-blue accidents or security incidents, Murphy’s Law says that if anything can possibly go wrong, it will.
But a pragmatic approach to risk, a little planning, and the right partners can make all the difference in the world.
Let’s take a closer look at risk mitigation – and how you can start 2022 on a good footing.
1. Take ownership
It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. And it’s hard to disagree. When it comes to risk mitigation, there is plenty that travel suppliers, for example, tour operators or accommodation providers, can do to identify and avert potential issues.
As solid New Year’s resolutions go, you can’t go wrong with:
- Conducting regular safety audits – and implementing daily, weekly and monthly checks to ensure you have created a safe operating environment
- Conducting new staff inductions – and refreshing existing staff on protocols
- Reviewing your standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Ensuring all necessary safety signage (for example, pool safety signs) is clearly displayed
- Keeping up with repairs and maintenance
- Ensuring emergency telephone numbers are clearly displayed – and making sure your team know who to call in an emergency
- Doing dry runs and re-assessing your operating environment in terms of hazards/risks
- Having a practised emergency response plan in place.
2. Review your insurance
At the top of your January to-do list? Connect with a specialist broker and let them conduct a thorough needs analysis based on any changes that have taken place within your operation since the start of the pandemic – and through the rollercoaster ride that was 2020/2021.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you need to re-instate any covers?
- Have you chatted to your broker/insurer about any changes in your operation (for example, revenue or activities)?
- Have you identified any gaps in your current policy (for example, theft by guests, malicious damage and bilking)?
- Have you considered new risks, for example cybercrime?
3. Subscribe to an incident management service
Believe it or not, when the tourism industry is in full swing SATIB24 Crisis Call receives an average of 50 calls per month, so – make no mistake – incidents happen.
Rather than trying to manage a critical incident yourself (which may expose your establishment to massive liability and your staff to unnecessary trauma), it’s important to subscribe to a professional incident management service. More than dispatching an ambulance or contacting the police, incident management specialists will take control of the situation, provide remote advice for both medical and security incidents; handle emergency evacuations; handle legal representation; offer trauma counselling; conduct debriefs; and sort out crisis communication and media management from a PR perspective.
Of course, you also need to be prepared. Make sure you:
- Have up-to-date emergency equipment/response kits on hand – and that you have identified ‘first-responders’ in your team who are trained to use the equipment
- Build appropriate skills/capacity on the ground to meet the needs of your operation
- Share details of the resources in your specific location with your incident management team
- Ensure you have a robust/reliable communications device – and that your team know how to use it
- Have made everyone in the party (i.e. staff and guests) aware of your emergency protocol (including phone numbers, first aid kits etc.).
4. Call in the professionals
If an incident does occur, you want to be back up and running as soon as possible. Most businesses can’t afford any down time, especially after the year we’ve all had. Putting the pieces back together after an incident (be it storm damage or a fire) so you can ensure business continuity, is an important part of the process.
Top tips include keeping historic data regarding your company’s financial performance in previous years to help speed up claims and loss assessments; keeping a database of trusted, approved suppliers you know you can rely on for repairs should disaster strike; taking photographs and recording videos post-event to inform your claim; and getting down on paper an extremely detailed explanation of what happened and what damages have occurred.
Remember, it’s never too early to call your broker. They need to be involved from the very beginning. They’ll be able to help right from the get-go, both in terms of offering advice and confirming exactly what information they need to process your claim quickly and seamlessly – avoiding unnecessary going back and forth.
Ultimately, risk management is about taking ownership, controlling what we can, and preparing for the unexpected. The understanding or expectation that one can transfer any and all risk to insurers or government funds and that they will pick it up, is now a thing of the past. It’s time to take control, plan for the future, and then choose very carefully how (and to whom) you transfer the risk you can’t manage yourself.
Here's to a safe and successful 2022!