The NOAA 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season forecast is above normal activity with 11 – 17 named storms and 5 – 9 Hurricanes predicted. They even forecast 2 – 4 Major Hurricanes. The islands of the Caribbean have to use this information to actively prepare. We at Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios Jamaica have found that a four pronged approach has served us well in the past.
Knowledge – We ensure all Team Members have an understanding of the common terms used during a hurricane forecast. The severity of the threat to our area is then easier to detect and respond to. We designate one or more persons to be the “storm watchers” with the responsibility of tracking and broadcasting information of storm threats in the region. We find that Watersports personnel at the resort is always a good choice as they monitor weather conditions on a daily basis for their operations. The use of Group Chats for quick and widespread communications, including photographs, is highly effective.
Be Proactive – At the start of the season (June 1) establish a H.E.A.T. team – Hurricane Evaluation Advance Team who are tasked with scouring the property to identify potential threats which a storm will exacerbate. Once a checklist is established, take corrective action and clear drains, gullies and waterways to prevent flooding. Anchor, remove or discard items which could become missiles. Prune trees and repair roof damage as is necessary.
Detailed Plans – Before and during the storm, have a detailed plan of action where individuals know what their specific responsibilities are in advance. Establish a Command Post which centralizes the directives from Senior Management to the Team. Help key personnel to secure their own homes and families which frees them up to prepare the resort for the storm.
Recovery – Make a plan for a quick recovery with a dedicated Recovery Team. This should include specialty technicians in electrical, plumbing and mechanical repairs. General Maintenance and clean-up crew should be activated as soon as it is safe.
Once things are back to normal, have the PR Team aggressively put the word out to industry partners that you are back in business. This will help to mitigate any negative effects the news of a hurricane may have had in slowing bookings to your hotel. Partner with neighbouring tourism entities to increase the impact.