Supporting Your Community: Hotels as Evacuation Support Centers

We’ve all seen instances where community-wide or large-scale emergencies have created the need for hotels to step up and offer their services to shelter and care for people. These can range from unexpectedly severe weather, natural disasters, highway closures, manufacturing plant fires or explosions, and acts of terrorism. Many companies with critical facilities will include local hotels in their own business resiliency planning. 

Why Hotels Are Called to Serve:

Hotels are uniquely qualified to provide certain services in emergencies because they have:

  • Beds
  • 24/7 staffing (trained, often multi-lingual)
  • Water, food, power, communications
  • Meeting and event space

The key to successfully providing this level of support is to pre-arrange and agree upon the level of engagement ahead of time. One of the first steps is to understand who is most likely to be the other party of an agreement for services. 

Consider agreements with:

  • Airlines that have crew contracts
  • Major industrial facilities you have corporate agreements with
  • Major corporations or locally important and established companies (especially in small markets where there might be just a few large businesses)
  • Civic emergency services, hospitals, schools and community event centers


Limit agreement to providing space and services that are normally provided. E.g. do not agree to providing care services, communication services (hotlines, next of kin notification etc.)

Have 24/7 contact person plus at least one alternate from both parties. (Hotel and Company the agreement is with)

Your First Step is to Create a Template for All Agreements

The template should include the following key items:

How is the agreement activated:

    • Call to hotel or call to responsible person from hotel
    • Use of clear language or pre-agreed code
      • If code is necessary, front line staff that could receive the call need to know

What are the first steps the hotel takes:

  • Notification tree to management and hotel crisis team
    • Crisis management is activated
    • Notification to owners and corporate
  • Prepare set up for arrival of evacuees / company responders / or impacted people (families of victims)
    • Access control
    • Room allocations
      • Guest rooms
      • Meeting and event space

General set up

  • Agreed use of hotel rooms
    • Separate floors, separate wing, entire hotel
    • Voluntary checkout of non-impacted guests
  • Agreed use of meeting room space
    • Office space
      • Crisis management
      • Communications
      • External expertise
        • Counsellors
        • Medical
        • Legal
      • Plenary meeting space
      • Separate evacuated survivors from public
      • Separation of victim families (deceased vs survivors)
      • Subsistence set up (24/7 coffee, tea, snacks, buffet meals etc)
      • Evacuee registration rooms
      • Playroom for children


  • Hotel, Company or combination?
    • Rules of engagement
    • Limitations of responsibility
  • Access control
    • To site
    • To building
    • Internally in the property


  • Internal information to staff
  • Information to existing guests and guests due for arrival
  • External information
    • Should be handled by Company or Authorities (hotel is “just” a venue)

Finance and Pricing

  • Corporate contracted pricing is valid and used
  • Costs of e.g. relocating guests or arriving guests, cancellation of guest reservations, booked and planned events etc. to be logged and billed to Company

What if it’s YOUR Hotel that’s impacted?

  • Hotels should have reciprocal agreements with nearby hotels
  • If no hotel nearby, consider alternatives such as schools, churches, event centers.

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