Preparing your tourism business for emergency events

Preparing an emergency response plan is a key task for your business. This should not only map out a plan for weather events, but also other potential risks or emergencies that may affect your business.

Effective preparation can:

  • help you stay focused on response and recovery during a potentially stressful time
  • ensure visitors and staff are kept safe
  • help protect your investments
  • minimise loss of earnings
  • help control and manage fixed and variable costs
  • get your business back up and running quickly after the event.

Assess the likelihood and impact of risks

Once you have identified the emergency events or hazards that could impact your business, the next steps are to:

  • assess the likelihood of these events taking place
  • evaluate the impact they could have if the worst happens.

For each of the risks you have identified, think about the following.

How likely is this type of risk or emergency?

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High

What impact could this risk scenario have on your business?

  • The consequences are dealt with internally or by routine operations. Loss of revenue is low or negligible.
  • Your business is not threatened directly but operations could be affected. Loss of revenue is medium.
  • Threatens functionality of your business and will require intervention. Loss of revenue is high.
  • The risk threatens survival of your business. Loss of revenue is very high or extreme.

Minimise risks

Once you have identified risks and their potential impact and likelihood of taking place, the next step is to identify practical and cost-effective actions to minimise the impact on the short and long-term health of your tourism business.

Think about the steps you can take to minimise risk impact.

Managing physical risks

  • Identify options for moving essential stock and equipment to safe locations.
  • Plan how to secure entry points and windows for a range of risks.
  • Complete your emergency kit.
  • Keep up-to-date with essential premises management including:
    • maintaining outdoor areas, such as clearing gutters
    • addressing any key structural building issues
    • purchasing and regularly servicing fire safety equipment.

Planning for financial risks

  • Limit financial risk by having appropriate insurance cover—think about business disruption as well as building, contents and liability cover.
    • Understand exactly what is in your insurance policy and know what you are, and are not, covered for.
    • Explore a range of insurance options to suit your business by going online or contacting an insurance broker.
    • Weigh up the costs and benefits of investing in insurance versus the level of impact and likelihood of the risk event taking place.
  • Ensure appropriate booking and cancellation policies are in place, and plan the approach (including any goodwill measures) you would use with customers in certain events.
  • Consider your financial reserves and any emergency financial measures you could put in place with your bank.

Securing your data

If your digital systems and data are not backed up or managed properly, you may not be able to access vital booking, customer and financial information.

If your data is stolen or accessed inappropriately, you could also be at risk of breaching privacy laws.

Read more about information technology risk management.

Form a crisis management team

Having a trusted team of people working together for your business during an emergency event is essential. Think about the following points when creating your crisis management team.

Populate your crisis management team

  • Think about who would respond best and remain calm in a crisis.
  • If you run a small business, think about including your family, friends or business advisors.

Identify roles and responsibilities for staff and management

Think about who is best placed to fill roles such as:

  • team leader
  • first aid officer
  • evacuation warden
  • financial or legal advisor
  • crisis logistics advisor
  • human resources officer
  • communication representative (with guests, staff, media, insurance).

Think about an alternate person for each role in case someone is not available. One person could also fill multiple roles and responsibilities.

Share contact information for each of your team members

With permission, share contact details of each member with the team. Ensure details are kept up-to-date and in an easily accessible, but safe, location.

Conduct regular team meetings and emergency drills

After meetings and drills, record any learnings or improvements needed, and update procedures and training needs.

Read more about your obligations to provide emergency training.

List key contacts and communication strategies

In the event of a crisis, contact details for key internal and external stakeholders must be available immediately—5 minutes can make all the difference.

You are not responsible for everything during a crisis, but you do need to know who to contact for help at a local and regional level.

Essential contact details

Tourism organisations

Staff

Keep an up-to-date list of staff contact details (both on-site and off-site), including an emergency contact or next-of-kin for each person.

Emergency alerts and updates

Understand how you can keep up-to-date with alerts about emergencies affecting your local area.

  • Local radio
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Email and SMS alerts from local emergency or disaster dashboards (visit your local council's website)
  • Local council (disaster management groups) support and alert mechanisms
  • Social media (Queensland Police Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services)

Create an evacuation plan or emergency shut-down procedure

Make sure you have an up-to-date evacuation plan for your site and all staff know safety and emergency procedures.

Think about:

  • the evacuation or shut-down activities for high-risk or high-likelihood emergencies
  • the safest and most appropriate routes for evacuation
  • the location of staff and customer assembly points
  • which staff members will be responsible for coordinating an evacuation.

Learn more about preparing evacuation procedures.

Build an emergency kit

If you need to evacuate your business, an emergency kit that can be easily carried or stored off-site is essential. The kit should contain key documents such as your contact lists and business recovery plan.

Your emergency kit should include the following items.

Documents

  • Evacuation plan
  • Emergency action plan
  • Business recovery plan
  • Employee contact list (including mobile phone numbers)
  • List of key contacts (emergency services, utility companies, local authorities, insurance company, suppliers)
  • First aid register
  • Building site plan including location of gas, electricity and water shut-off points
  • Latest stock and equipment inventory
  • Key financial and insurance documents
  • Business registration documents
  • Deeds to property
  • Copies of any licences, certificates or awards
  • Key business or supplier contracts

Equipment

  • First aid kit and manual
  • Portable radio
  • Torches
  • Spare batteries and/or powerbanks
  • Computer back-up tapes, discs, USB memory sticks or flash drives
  • Spare keys and security codes
  • Marker pens (for temporary signs) and general stationery
  • Mobile phone with credit available, plus chargers (including car charger)
  • Face masks for dust or fumes
  • Hazard tape

On the day items

On the day of an emergency, think about adding the following to your kit:

  • Cash from premises
  • Keys for buildings, vehicles and equipment
  • Important or valuable equipment that is easily moved
  • List of current and expected visitors or clients with contact details

Prepare a crisis response plan

A crisis response plan should include steps to happen in the first hours of a crisis. Some actions may be common sense, but the stress of a crisis can affect your ability to think rationally. A checklist of immediate actions should clearly outline steps to take, who is responsible and who to notify—this will save time, money, and potentially even people's lives.

Think about the actions to take immediately, in the first 24 hours, in the first 1–2 days and post-crisis.

First 15 minutes after disaster

  • Establish what has happened
  • Contact emergency services
  • Activate your crisis response plan
  • Assemble your crisis management team to allocate roles and responsibilities as well as communication procedures
  • Collect your emergency kit (which should also contain a first aid kit)
  • Evacuate the site if necessary (using your evacuation plan) and determine whether all staff and customers have been accounted for
  • Identify any injuries and respond with first aid
  • Decide whether to close the business
  • Start an event and image log
  • Monitor emergency broadcasts for updates on the situation

15-30 minutes after event starts

  • Assess the impact of the crisis and take photos of the scene
  • Contact emergency services and provide regular updates on injured people
  • Continue to administer first aid and take photos of injured people
  • Activate your crisis communications plan and protocols
  • Update staff on the situation and brief them on key messages to be relayed to customers
  • Contact relevant key stakeholders off-site and brief them on the situation
  • Contact your local tourism organisation to update them on the situation and advise of messages for media communication
  • Monitor social media and news channels for regular updates on the crisis
  • Monitor emergency broadcasts for updates on the situation
  • Assess the severity of the crisis and its financial and legal implications
  • Maintain event and image log
  • Keep in regular contact with your crisis management team, and provide update to team leader

30 minutes – 1 hour after event starts

  • Identify critical business activities that have been impacted
  • Provide regular updates to emergency services on injured persons
  • Continue to administer first aid and take photos of injured persons
  • Update staff on the situation and brief them on key messages to be relayed to customers
  • Update your social media channels and website as per your crisis communication plan
  • Monitor emergency broadcasts for updates on the situation
  • Maintain event and image log
  • Keep in regular contact with your crisis management team and provide update to team leader

1–5 hours after event starts

  • Provide regular updates to emergency services on injured persons
  • Continue to administer first aid and take photos of injured persons
  • Update your staff on the situation and brief them on key messages to be relayed to customers
  • Update your social media channels and website as per your crisis communications plan
  • Contact customers expected to arrive or visit in the coming days with an update on future operations and any changes that will occur as a result of the crisis
  • Contact suppliers with an update on future operations and any changes that will occur as a result of the crisis
  • Initiate back-up or alternative source operations (if available and required – e.g. a generator for electricity)
  • Monitor emergency broadcasts for updates on the situation
  • Maintain event and image log
  • Keep in regular contact with your crisis management team and provide update to team leader

Within first 24 hours of event starting

  • Initiate back-up or alternative source operations (if available/required – e.g. a generator for electricity)
  • Obtain financial and legal documents from emergency kit and contact insurance provider
  • Contact bank or financial provider about accessing emergency or advance funds for staff wages or recovery activities
  • Contact government agencies and the Fair Work Ombudsman about worker rights and your obligations as an employer
  • Monitor emergency broadcasts for updates on the situation
  • Maintain event and image log
  • Provide event log to team leader
  • Keep in regular contact with your crisis management team and provide update to team leader
  • Set priorities for the next day

Post-crisis

  • Implement your recovery plan
  • Provide staff and customers involved in crisis with information and contact details for support services
  • Send positive news stories following crisis to customers and publish on your website and social media channels
  • Undertake post-crisis review with your crisis management team
  • Coordinate routine evacuation training with staff

Contact

General enquiries 13 QGOV (13 74 68)