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By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

 

Credit: Tourism & More Inc.

 

TOURISM & MORE’S

 

“TOURISM TIDBITS”

June 2017

Some of the Best Practices in Tourism Security, Risk Management and Crisis Recovery, Part 1

 

This June we shall be holding the 23rd Annual Las Vegas International Tourism Safety and Security conference and in honor of our conference, this month’s Tourism Tidbits focuses on issuesT of security and safety. 

Although the public, media, and politicians expect continuous 100% safety and security, reality is that total security does not exist.  What is true of the non-tourism and travel world is even more so in the world of travel and tourism. Not only are tourism and traveling security problems often more challenging, but the traveling public can also easily be frightened, and in the case of leisure travel decide simply not to visit a specific locale.  Furthermore, many tourism professionals are frighten by the topic and provide more lip service to the subject than real substance.

To help you think through some of the issues and finds methods to confront these ever changing challenges, Tourism Tidbits presents you with the following ideas for your consideration: 

-Never forget that all travel security and safety begins with a sense of hospitality and caring.  Customer service is the foundation of any security program. Employees need to remember that they should not treat others in a way that they would not want others to treat them.  Customers are not the enemy; they are the industry’s raison d’être.  From the moment a traveler leaves his/her home until the moment that s/he returns the industry needs to project an image of we care, of creating an environment in which customers know that they are not prisoners or cattle but respected guests.

-Understand that in most cases (drugs being a major exception) acts of crime and acts of terrorism are different.  It is rare that poverty is a root cause of either crime or terrorism, and the two social illnesses have a very different interaction with tourism.  Crime has a parasitic relationship with tourism that is to say if there is no tourism then there is no tourism crime.  Although, terrorists may use crime as a means to fund their projects, their ultimate goal is the destruction of tourism and the economic prosperity that it produces around the world.

 
-The most effective security is proactive rather than reactive. This means find ways to layer your security and be aware of where the security weaknesses may be.  Know your property layout and remember that there are no 100% safe places in any building Use combinations of a physical security presence plus technology, such as surveillance, makes sure all your bases are covered. 


-Know local laws!  Hoteliers must know their responsibilities for security within local laws and regulations. Knowing whether issues would result in criminal or civil liabilities can influence security protocols.  Be aware of terror trends: Not every attack is the same.  Over the past several years, many terror events have “evolved to be locally inspired or involve locally trained citizens”.  The newest “trends” in attacks against hotels are small-scale, high-body-count attacks that draw global media attention. Nevertheless, do not forget that terrorism is ever changing and what is true this year may be different next year.

-Partner Simple partnerships with local law enforcement are an easy, low-cost way to keep security top of mind. Invite your local police to spend a night in the hotel or have dinner there.  The better the police understand the property’s security and emergency protocols and see the capabilities, the faster they can react in case of an emergency or advise you on simple solutions as to ways to stop and attack before it occurs. Ask your police department to educate hotel staff on what their own capabilities are and what emergencies they can and cannot handle.  Then develop a formal plan with the local police department and be sure that they have a copy of the plan

-Tourism security does not exist in a vacuum.  That means that tourism security is part of the overall local environment.  If a particular city is not safe, then eventually that insecurity will impact the local hotels, attractions and transportation systems.  What that means is that the tourism industry needs not only to ask for protection but also that it needs to work with local community leaders to bring down the overall crime rates.  For example, communicate with local organizations that seek to lower crime rates.  The bottom line is that what takes place outside of the hotel impacts what occurs inside of the hotel. Regular meetings between government officials, tourism officials, and local managers can save time and lives, and it can reduce from what might have been a major incident into a minor one.   In today’s world security not only adds to the bottom line, it can be a major marketing tool.


-Have multiple plans in place prior to an event and not after the event.  In cases of crises, crisis management is essential, but tourism and travel officials need to ask themselves if the crisis might have been lessened in its severity or even avoided if they had had good proactive risk management plans.  Crises come in all sorts of sizes.  A terrorism attack is a crisis on a large scale, but there are a million small inconveniences that government regulators have imposed on tourism that have created a sense of continual mini-crises.  When tourists need to factor terrorism hassles into their travel plans, many people may choose other methods of communication, leaving the industry in a business crisis. The bottom line is that many small personal crises may produce large industry crises.

-In an age of insecurity tourism officials must make sure that their security agents are not only well trained in every aspect of security including the customs and cultural habits of their customers, but also well paid.  For example, some cultures tend to be more trusting than others and different cultures may have distinct patterns for what is acceptable or not for female guests. It is essential that tourism management develop security patterns that meet not only the local environment but also meet the cultural needs of their guests. In a business climate as unstable as the current one, it is essential that security personnel be the best, that they receive regular news updates, and be able to act not only quickly, but in a caring and professional manner with travelers.  It does no good to have people well trained and then leave the field because of low pay.

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A special reminder: The XXIV International Las Vegas Tourism Security and Safety Conference is June 12-14.  To register please visit: www.touristsafety.org

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Reviewing Some Fundamentals Of The Travel & Tourism Industry

Categories: Tourism Resilience, Tourism Safety & Security Issues
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February 2017: Part 2 of a two part series. Part 1 appeared in January

Last month we looked at some of the fundamentals of a successful tourism business or industry.  Although every local is different, and it is a basic principle to emphasize the unique and different aspects of your business or locale, human beings are basically the same around the world and the best principles of good tourism are the same across both cultures and languages.

Tourism is the telling of a story in which the visitor becomes part of the tale. To travel is to seek the different, to find a way to leave the humdrum of daily life and enter into a world of non-realities. This basic principal means that the tourism industry must allow its visitors to experience the unique and special in a safe and secure environment. Remember we are selling memories and it is our job to help our customers create memories that can be shared.

Do you understand your tourism product in the same way as your customers see it?  For example, you may say that you are a family destination, but if your customers view you from another perspective, it will take a tremendous amount of marketing change the image.  Before launching a new marketing campaign, consider how your destination makes its clientele feel, why people chose your destination over the competition, and what emotional benefits do your visitors receive when they chose your destination.

A smile is universal.  Perhaps the most important technique to learn in tourism is the way to smile.  A sincere smile can compensate for many an error. Travel and tourism is built around principles of high expectations, many of which never get met.  This gap between the image and the reality is not always the fault of the industry. There is little that the industry can do to make a rainstorm depart or to stop an unexpected blizzard.  What we can do, is show people that we care and be creative.  Most people can forgive an act of nature but few customers will forgive a state of callousness or lack of caring.

Tourism is a customer driven experience. In the last few years too many tourism and visitor centers have worked hard at driving their customers from human-based experiences to web page experiences.  The logic behind this move is that it will save large corporations such as airlines a great deal of money on wages.  The risk that these companies will have to consider is that tourists develop relationships with people rather than web sites. As tourist and traveler corporations drive people to web sites, they should be ready to accept the fact that customer loyalty will decrease and that their frontline personnel’s actions become even more important.

We may talk about educating our customers but remember that they are not in school and are not paying anyone to get a grade.  All too often, especially on guided tours, we have the false notion that our customers are our students.  Guides need to speak less and allow visitors to experience more. The average adult, on tour, stops listening after about 5-7 minutes. In a like manner too many police departments and security organizations falsely believe that they can educate the visitor regarding personal safety and security. Assume the visitor will pay no attention and develop security programs based on this simple fact.

Be authentic. Nothing gets unmasked more easily that a lack of authenticity. Do not try to be what you are not but rather be the best that you can be.  Tourism locations that are authentic and natural tend to be the most successful.  To be authentic does not mean only forests or beaches, but a unique presentation of cultural awareness.

Visitors may forget a sunset but rarely forget a good meal.  Emphasize the culinary aspects of your tourism industry. Use whenever local products, presented in both colorful and unique fashions, promote local recipes.  Food can change a good trip into a memorable one.

Seek out and develop new talent. Tourism is hard work and many people find the industry too hard. Be on the lookout for new and creative employees, seek people who are gregarious and extroverted, and people with both patience and a sense of adventure.

Use multiple methodologies to understand trends in tourism. There is a tendency in tourism to use purely qualitative or quantitative analytical methodologies.  Both are important and both can provide additional insights. Problems occur when we become so dependent on one form of analysis that we ignore the other.  Remember people surveyed along with computerized data are not always truthful. Although these methods may be highly valid their reliability factors may be lower than what we believe. Polling errors both in the US and the UK ought to remind us of the principle of “garbage in/garbage out”.

When in doubt, the right thing to do is the best thing to do. Don’t cut corners because times are hard. This is the time to build a reputation for integrity by doing the right thing. Make sure to give customer’s their money’s worth rather than appearing to be selfish and greedy. The hospitality business is about doing for others, and nothing advertises a place better than giving that something extra in a period of economic constriction. In a like manner, managers should never cut their underlings salaries before they cut their own. If reduction in forces are necessary, a manager should personally handle the situation, present a good-bye token and never be absent on the day of a lay-off.

When the going gets rough, be calm. People come to us for tranquility and to forget their problems, not to learn about our problems. Our guests should never be burdened with our economic difficulties. Remember they are our guests and not our counselors. Tourism ethics requires that your personal life stay in your home. If you are too agitated to work, then stay home. Once one is at the workplace, however, we have a moral responsibility to concentrate on the needs of our guests and not on our own needs. The best way to be calm in a crisis is to be prepared. For example, in the post-September 11th world, every community needs to have a tourism security plan. In a like manner, your community or attraction needs to train employees on how to handle health risks, travel changes, and personal security issues.

 

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.
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