Key Takeaways
COVID has likely caused changes in hotel operations and resources; hotels need to ensure that their Emergency Response Plans are still fit for purpose in light of any changes.

Time for Hotels to Review Emergency Response Plans

Response Plans and their scope and quality are highly variable.  Regardless of the quality of existing Emergency Response Plans, it is likely that COVID driven reorganisations and cuts will impact these critical plans.  Given that hotels will be desperately focussing on sustaining or re-generating business they may overlook how their Emergency Response Plan has been impacted and will not realise this until the plans are tested and fail ‘in action’.  It is therefore critical that all plans are objectively reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose given the changes in organisation and resources.

Post-COVID Emergency Plan Reviews

Some things to consider as you review your hotel emergency plans.

Safety Equipment & Systems:
  • Are these systems still being maintained, serviced, and tested to specification?
  • Do we still have the budget and people to manage and maintain the equipment and systems?
  • Are general staff still being trained to respond to and operate equipment and systems?
  • Do plans reflect any changes in staffing or consolidations?
  • Do plans consider potential resource availability due to budget constraints?
  • Do we still have the people to carry out the actions in the way and time as demanded by the plan?
  • Do remaining staff need to be assigned different roles in regards to their Emergency Response duties given any staffing changes?
  • Do changes in plans require a review of the Training Needs Analysis?
  • Are training programs still relevant considering potential changes in the plan?
  • Do training plans and programs need to be adjusted to meet plan amendments?
Exercises and Testing
  • When was the last time emergency response plans, such as hotel evacuation, last conducted?
  • Since the Emergency Response Plan has been amended when will exercises and testing be conducted?
  • Have plan changes been correctly reflected in Emergency Response documentation?

Planning Challenges

Best Practice: Involve the team that will be executing the plan in the planning process.

The challenge of any planning is for the planner to mentally stress test their plans to understand why and how the plan might not work; many planners look at their plans through ‘rose-tinted glasses’ seeing only how their plans could work. I have been guilty of this myself ‘I conceived and wrote the plan so it must be good and will work – right?’  As I became a more experienced planner, I would ask the team that would execute the plan to try to and unpick it and identify likely points of failure. This approach also fosters team stakeholdership in the plan.

When reviewing hotel Emergency Response Plans, I always extensively walk the hotel to understand the ‘arena’ in which the plan will play out and review available resources, manpower, systems, and equipment.  I then visually play out the plan as a ‘mental film’ using the plan as a Director.  As the plan is visualised, using the building and resources, it soon becomes clear where and how the plan will not work. 

8 Reasons Why Plans Fail

  1. The plan is incoherent and poorly articulated
  2. There are not enough people to successfully execute the plan – especially at night when hotel manning is minimised
  3. There is not enough, or the required, equipment to deal with the emergency
  4.  Response actions are poorly coordinated and fail to deliver the appropriate capability at the right place at the right time
  5. Over delegation by senior management driving responsibility for planning too far down the management chain
  6. Lack of objective review
  7.  Failure of senior management to conduct a detailed review
  8.  Failure to conduct annual reviews or reviews when the threat or hotel resources change  and record such reviews

If there is a sister hotel in your area, why not exchange Emergency Response Plans for mutual review – you could learn a lot!!


Questions for Consideration:

  1. When was the last time the Hotel Manager reviewed the hotel emergency response plans? How many issues did he/she pick up and demand change?
  2. Have any changes in operations and resources been assessed and where appropriate reflected in hotel Emergency Response Plans?
  3. Will the plans work? How do you know? When was the last time you tested them?

This is an excellent time and opportunity to review your Emergency Response Plans to ensure they are fit for purpose and aligned to the new business situation, protecting guests, staff and building trust. Let NorthPoint know how we can help.