20 Feb

Opinion: Travel companies must prepare for severe weather

The recent bad weather in the UK underlines how important it is for travel firms to have a contingency plan in place, says Abta's Nikki White

Travel companies selling domestic holidays have had their contingency plans tested in the last few weeks, with torrential downpours disrupting transport connections and accommodation suppliers.

Extreme as these conditions have been, the problems caused by even more severe weather conditions worldwide show how important it is for travel companies to be prepared.

Never Forget

On February 25-26 Abta is running the third of its Travel Essentials two-day training events – helping to ensure that businesses are prepared for a crisis, know their health and safety risks and get the latest advice on operational matters in destination.

This training is ideal for directors of small to medium-sized travel businesses, as well as employees who have responsibility for crisis, health and safety or operational issues in their roles.

Ensuring that destinations are properly prepared is also an incredibly important link in the crisis management chain.

The Flood

Companies selling Saint Lucia will need no reminding of the disruption caused by very heavy rainfall over the Christmas period last year.

Floods of this nature have the potential to disrupt the clean water supplies of hotels and cause health issues from sewage overflows. The fact that disruption was kept to a minimum was a tribute to the robust nature of the local authority’s response and its crisis planning.

The Saint Lucian authorities deserve a great deal of credit for their prompt and efficient action to restore services, but they also knew that there are always valuable lessons to be learned and improvements that can be made. Destinations need time to recover, but they also need tourism to help maintain local livelihoods. It is a delicate balance.

Having a robust crisis plan comes into play at times like these. Knowing how to manage your customers – those in destination and those due to travel – as well as your own employees can have a big impact on the welfare of individuals and the way your company is perceived in the future.

Back for Good

Having a health and safety plan allows you to evaluate when you can return safely to a destination and what is appropriate to place back on sale to minimise your risks.

Travel Essentials, Abta’s destination seminars and the 
work being done by the Saint Lucian authorities all are linked 
by a common thread – the desire to safeguard customers and achieve a sustainable future for our businesses and the destinations we visit.

Nikki's opinion piece was published by Travel Weekly.