What To Do In An Emergency (Social Media Tip)


This post is written for the hospitality industry in response to how to handle communicating to guests and staff during an emergency through Facebook. It originally appeared HERE.

What if there’s an EMERGENCY?

What if something is time sensitive? Something your guests need to be informed about right away? The building next door is on fire, aliens are invading (What? it could happen) or worse?

If you’re a parent, it’s pretty likely that you have a school Facebook page or group (Or other online community hub) that you use to receive updates with regard to school activities, especially in the case of an emergency. Your guests need somewhere to go to get information about what’s going on in your community, and especially at your specific property, and the place they go to is the hotel’s Facebook page.

In light of recent events, it’s prudent to revisit your strategy for handling the hotel’s Facebook account in such a situation.

Personally. I am no strangers to handling emergency situations and communicating through social media. For example, I used social media to work with local news, fire and law enforcement to move information fluidly to keep my community informed when I was evacuated from my own home in 2011.

It’s important to remember that when something happens, you must resist the urge to post to Facebook right away. Remember to use specialists in time of need, and during an emergency you certainly want the best members of your team on the job (Call me if you don’t know what that looks like).

The Westin Dallas Downtown did the only right thing.

The nation is in turmoil over the tragedy of last Thursday night, but none were more impacted than those nearest the event. I recently audited the Dallas area hotel Facebook pages closest to last weeks shooting and found that only two posted anything about the incident at all. Two! And only one provided real valuable information.

Less than an hour after the shooting began, the Westin posted to their Facebook page: “We are aware of the shootings in the vicinity of The Westin Dallas Downtown. The building has been secured. We are working with local authorities to determine when it will be safe to resume operations. If you are on your way to the hotel to check in, please go to the Sheraton Dallas hotel until further notice. We will update you once the building and area are deemed safe.

In addressing the situation, they got the word out the following day that they were doing all they can to put guests first, giving multiple points of contact for the hotel and the GM.

Their post reads: “In light of what has happened over night, we want to assure our guests, both in-house and arriving, that our hotel is safe and secure. We will be operating the hotel as normal. Grill & Vine is also open. Should you have any questions or concerns, please call the hotel at 972.584.6650. You may also email us at GMMatt.Tronsdal@westin.com.

Our hearts are heavy for this city we call home. City officials, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (Official DART page), the Dallas Fire Department, and the Dallas Police Department have our full support. Please keep everyone in your thoughts during this tragic hardship. ‪#‎WDD‬ ‪#‎DallasStrong‬ ‪#‎DowntownDallas.‬”

Proof that this information was well received is evident in the 54 reactions, 21 shares and one comment (that reads, “Great hotel”) accompanying the post (As of this writing).

The reality is that ‘real-time on social media’ is a myth. Things you and I see on Facebook can be several hours (even a day) old before we see it in our news feed. But when things are happening in real-time, that effect current or arriving guests, let’s do everything we can to put their mind at ease through effective communication and empathy.

Post originally appeared on The Social Inn

Note: The Hampton Inn and the Marriott City Center get points for trying, but they still didn’t do any of their guests good by comforting them in a very stressful time.

About The Social Inn: We manage social media for hotels. It’s all we do. Got questions about that?

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