Now is the time to prepare an action plan in the event that a guest contracts COVID-19 at your property. A good crisis action plan can be implemented for other situations that could arise in the future. While every property will have to determine its own approach, below are some general guidelines to consider when faced with the question of how to manage your reputation in a crisis:
Tips & Guidelines:
For COVID-19, it would be good to have a plan for three possible scenarios:
- The outbreak remains outside of your region.
- The epidemic spreads to your area but not to your property.
- An outbreak occurs on property.
It is important to act quickly, so assign roles and responsibilities now and discuss with your staff:
- Appoint a spokesperson, ideally the general manager or owner with media skills.
- Advise staff not to speak to the media or the general public, but give them guidelines for responding to questions from guests.
- If appropriate, publish an official statement and/or FAQ on your website and social media channels. Strive to answer the main questions people will have, including:
- What happened?
- When and where did it happen?
- Who was affected?
- What is being done about it?
- Be calm, sincere and transparent in your messaging, striving to communicate the following:
- Care “We care deeply about what happened.”
- Concern “We’re concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our guests and employees.”
- Commitment “As part of our commitment to safety and security, we’ve taken the following measures…”
When the dust settles, it’s time to start rebuilding your reputation.
- Depending on the type of negative coverage you receive, measures may include:
- Contacting sources and politely asking them to remove content
- Flagging and reporting misinformation on review sites and social media
- Responding to reviews and commentary
- Launching a review outreach or PR campaign to generate positive content
If the risk to reputation is significant, seek professional advice from a public relations firm or lawyer.