Crisis by definition is something you didn’t have a plan for or something in which you are unprepared. Additionally, it can be a series of events that in concert create a crisis. Events or issues that occur, to which you have a plan and strategy, is merely an incident.
The first thing is to clarify what is the difference between crisis management and leadership. More importantly, which one is the more important?
Crisis management relates to the response to event/s that threaten your business, travellers or travel activity. The event leads and you follow with plans, decisions and actions.
Crisis leadership, on the other hand, is more about getting ahead of the events and issues to prevent, management and even contain the impact to your business or business travel activities. While management is a portion of the leadership demand, your actions and involvement lead the outcomes rather than a more passive wait and act approach with pure crisis management.
Crisis leadership is the less practiced of the two, but the most significant in terms of results and reduction in risk and impact. If you take nothing else away from this session, it should be that your focus should always be on Crisis Leadership, not crisis management.
There are many myths and half-truths about crisis, disruption and threats within the travel management sector. Much of this misinformation has originated from travellers themselves, media, travel managers, friends and family or so called “experts”.
For example, many travellers and planners are focused on terrorism. The reality is, you have a very, very small chance of being exposed or affected directly by a terrorist act. It doesn’t mean you should discount it as a threat altogether but it shouldn’t dominate your plans or processes if not a proportional threat to you and your travellers. Conversely, almost everyone overlooks motor vehicle accidents. Yet, they happen far more frequently, can have devastating affect on travellers and are the least common plan contained within company travel management departments.
Travellers and travel managers must be prepared, educated and have supporting plans for any event that has the potential to delay, disrupt or harm the traveller or the business.
The most common events include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Airline delays or cancellations
- Airport closures or disruptions
- Transport delays
- Bad weather
- Sickness and illness
- Petty crimes
- Hotel fires
- Political disputes
- Demonstrations and gatherings
Motor vehicle accidents within your own country can be stressful and dangerous but on an overseas business trip they can be 100 times more challenging and dangerous. Consider language, local authorities, first responder, standard of healthcare, families and support in your plans and initial response.
Airline delays and cancelations. They happen all the time but they are not just an administrative response. You may need to consider safety, transport, quarantines, security threats, government response and wide spread suspension of services to overcome the issue and maintain safety of your travellers.
Airport closures or disruptions. Failed systems, electrical problems, threats, weather, construction and so on can prevent you even getting to your flight. Consider the impact this has on your plans and how your traveller will need to possibly extend stay, move to alternate airport or find accommodation.
All other transport delays and disruptions can create crisis when everyone no longer has access to trains, buses, key roads or even water transport. Have a plan and add it to your immediate decision making process.
2010 and the commencement of 2011 has seen travel of all kind affected by natural disasters and weather. Weather and natural forces have and always will impact travellers. It does and will continue to occur. It is highly concerning how unprepared travellers and companies are for volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, earthquakes and general bad weather.