Crisis management part of the new travel marketing mantra

Crisis management has moved from a peripheral issue for travel marketers to a daily requirement as they wrestle with everything from flight delays and cancellations to terrorist incidents and aviation disasters, the industry has been told.

Katherine O’Neill 

Katherine O’Neill, head of marketing at Trafalgar, said crisis management had become an important measure of a business’ success in the modern age.

“You really see true brand strength when you see a brand that can manage a crisis well,” O’Neill told the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit.

“I think it is part of our every day lives as travellers now and as travel brands that we are seeing crises pop up. It’s about how you have the right team together, make sure you have the processes in place so you can be more responsive and ensure that each element, whether it ‘s the operations team or the marketing team are all working really well and really quickly together.”

She said the importance of crisis management was proven on a daily basis.

“We have certainly seen in recent weeks, we wake up and something has happened in London and our search and our digital guys are already on and jumping to alternate and change what our focus is in terms of our advertising,” she said.

“We get updates straight away from our operations team and we can communicate straight out. You really need them to be together but you also need to be really responsive and to have a clear pathway and make sure you teams understand what’s next.”

Caroline Davidson highlighted Hard Rock Hotel’s handling of Bangkok bombing as best practice

Caroline Davidson, managing director of Davidson Communications, recalled working with the Hard Rock Hotel in Bangkok when a shrine was bombed and said the way in which the business reacted had a major impact on people’s appreciation for the brand.

She said the hotel immediately stepped in to become a crisis centre for media and families seeking shelter in the days after the blast.

“They were very vocal and very participatory in that and that absolutely in terms of engendering a trust around the brand and what they took away from that was a much strengthened from Australians that that was a place of safety, that they trusted that brand to do the right thing and they found it a haven.”

Richard Curtis says expectations have evolved

Richard Curtis, CEO of of Futurebrand said that where trust had become a competitive advantage after the Enron scandal, a similar thing was now happening with safety and security.

“You used to take it [trust] for granted and maybe not so much any more,” Curtis said.

“I think it changes the dynamics in the way you think about building brand and the ways in which you need to have that brand play through a myriad of scenarios whether they are super happy or super challenging.

“I think there is a bit of reality check around how do you build the brand and then future-proof it for this day and age and do so with integrity in the way that you can then deliver that brand experience as opposed to simply selling the dream and if it all goes pear shaped hoping someone else will pick up the pieces. That’s just not feasible these days.”


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