Hurricanes. Typhoons. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Floods. Wildfires. Mudslides. Avalanches. They can happen anywhere and anytime, causing terrible consequences. And some happen with absolutely no warning. For a natural disaster, preparation is an important part of the equation. What happens after the event is just as important. We recover physically if we can, we mourn those we lost and we begin to rebuild our communities. This underscores the importance of having a disaster recovery plan in place. Yet, while the rest of the world can turn off the news when the headlines dwindle, the cost of these natural disasters (both human and financial) can last for years. We in the tourism industry know it all too well. Some communities and their corresponding tourism businesses never recover, or take years to do so. The livelihoods of thousands of people can be affected. How do we recover from natural disasters before it’s too late?
What to do in the aftermath of a natural disaster
Don’t rush it. Check your infrastructure, and make sure the products and services that support your business are all functional once again. Reopening your rental properties too early can be a disaster in and of itself, causing bad guest experiences and reviews. Here are a few things to check once your properties are ready to reopen:
First and foremost, make sure your guests can get to your community, whether it’s by air, land or sea. This is more than just guest transportation, which is a requirement for any tourism. Your community needs to be accessible for importing basic necessities again or something is likely to fall apart. Then recommend the approach that is the most visibly recovered.
Water and food
In this case, it’s about more than just basic plumbing. The water has to be potable. Building the water system back to drinkable again can take some time depending on the area in which your properties are located. You also need to inquire about local farms and livestock where your local restaurants obtain their food. The last thing you’ll want is a list of reviews from sick guests.
Make sure parks and natural areas accessible, local attractions are safe and restaurants are open. Unsafe areas can slip through the cracks and natural disasters can render them unsteady, unlivable or unsafe. Other issues include safety from crime or looting and lingering effects from the natural disaster. While it’s important to get your community back on its feet as soon as possible, bad reviews can stop a recovery dead in its tracks. And while these issues may not be your fault, they will affect your business.
Rebuilding and recovering
Once the basics are back, take a look at the big picture. What does the community look like? Are there still piles of debris everywhere? Presenting an image of recovery is just as important as the recovery itself, regardless of whether or not your community is still building on the inside. Recommend the best point of entry, even if it take a bit longer to reach your property. If your community begins to look the part again, the positive reviews will help take care of the rest. Finally, when everything is in place, shout it from the rooftops with marketing. While you’ve most likely been hit hard financially by this tragedy, it’s important to make sure that everyone knows your property is open for business again. Even something as simple as an email to all of your former guests can help rebuild your bookings again. Build partnerships with those who have also recovered and work together to help make the community strong again. The rewards will come. At Kigo, we’re here to help however we can as you recover from natural disasters. Access the Kigo support page at any time for assistance.