A Disaster Is On Its Way. What Now?

The past couple of years have been crazy in the weather department. We all know that having a disaster hit our area isn’t all that far fetched. When the disaster of the BP oil spill hit it was a major disaster for Louisiana and Mississippi; however it wasn’t a disaster for all of the Florida panhandle and south Texas. That didn’t keep the media from scaring everyone away from RVing in south Texas or in the Florida panhandle as they had planned.

We have also seen this work with the scare tactics used about illegal immigrants crossing the Texas border. While the area RV parks didn’t see the drastic rise in crime rates that were being cited, that didn’t translate into news for the winter travelers from the North.

When disaster does strike and while some areas are in disaster recovery mode, other areas are just trying to recoup from the disaster of people believing they are in a disaster. Here are some ideas that I have put together on handling the bad press that comes from this kind of media.

 

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

When the news begins about a disaster that could be heading your way, this is your call to action. Hit your Social Media sites with information about what you are hearing locally, what your plans are and how often you will keep everyone up to date on what is actually going on.

If you publish a newsletter now would be the perfect time to send interim newsletters regarding what the current conditions are. Let people know that you will be sending a newsletter out more frequently than normal until after the “Disaster” is over.

When people call in with questions about their reservations, be sure you front office has the most recent information and is able to calm the jittery nerves of your future guests.   You might want to consider offering a refund on reservation deposits if you have to shut the park down due to the “Disaster.”

Take the opportunity to put out as much information as you can to prevent the mistaken idea that you are already closed for business.

During The Disaster

Work with other RV parks/resorts/campgrounds that are close enough to you for a quick drive but that are out of the disaster area to set them up as recommendations of where the guests can go for their vacation without interruption

Stay with your Social Media program and send out as many updates as you can telling people what is happening where you are located. If the disaster is headed away from you, let everyone know that you are no longer in the eye of the “Disaster.”

If you are in the eye of the “Disaster,” this would be a great time to let all of your guests with reservations know that you have taken the liberty of cancelling their reservation. . Particularly in the summer, many guests have scheduled vacation around the trip to your park. You made the effort to find other places for your guests to stay and now is the time to give them options of where they can go to enjoy their vacation. You aren’t going to lose the guest, you are going to make your guest more loyal because you took the time to think of them.

If you were evacuated because of the impending disaster, continue to use your Social Media program to report how you are being affected. Remember the base of Social Media is “Social.” That means that the people who are reading your Facebook updates, your tweets, your newsletters or your blogs feel that they have a relationship with you and are concerned about what is going on.

After The Disaster

If you were hit with the disaster, you already have your hands full. However, now is a good time to consider letting everyone know how bad the damage was. You might even give people a chance to help you with the cleanup by giving them a free site for a weekend. Above all else, you need to let everyone know what your schedule for cleanup and reopening is.

If you weren’t hit with the disaster, you still want to let everyone know that you are open for business and that things are looking great. You may even want to go the extra mile and schedule a “Let’s help our neighbors day” where everyone goes to a park that had been affected and helps them clean up. This would be a great opportunity for a press release to talk about surviving the disaster and what you are doing for your friends in the business.

Disaster Planning

Hopefully, everyone has a disaster plan already in place for how they would shut down the office, backup computer systems and notify employees and guests. If you don’t, this off season would be a good time to get started.

Having lived through a direct hit by a hurricane, there were a number of lessons learned for me. To give you a small chuckle, before the hurricane made landfall, we filled up our 250 gallon tank with gas so that we would have it available after the hurricane. The problem? We needed diesel to run the equipment we wanted to use for clean up.

Check to make sure the simple equipment is available. Chain saws have replacement chains, there is oil on hand to mix with gas for mowers, chain saws, etc. and that your computers are backed up. One major advantage to the software that runs on the web is that your data is safe from a local disaster. That isn’t to say that it is safe from other problems.

Make sure that shut off valves are clearly marked and that there is documentation so that it isn’t dependent on one person who knows where everything is.

 

I hope that you never have to execute your Disaster Plan but that if you do need to, the plan will be in place and current. Don’t let the media convince your guests to cancel their reservations without a real reason. Get out in front of the problem and control it instead of it controlling you.

Are you ready for a “Disaster?”

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Don’t have time to do it all? Give me a call at 800-478-0516 and let’s talk about what would work for you.   Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @RVStops and @FocusedWords and join my group on LinkedIn, “Social Media in the RV Industry” and “RV Park Management Software User’s Group”.   Check out my blog at www.FocusedWords.com/blog for more articles about doing business in the RV world. Copyright by FocusedWords. If you would like to reprint, please email pwright@FocusedWords.com with your request.

 

 

 

 

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