|A missed opportunity: A metro Atlanta hotel ended up with hundreds of stranded guests in its lobby, but no procedures on how to help. This man made do with a tablecloth snatched from a table.|
By: Cindy Miller
January’s Atlanta Snow Jam 2014 provided many examples of effective communication – and numerous examples of poor communication. Some stories warmed our hearts, others should be a wake-up call to those that push planning down the priority list.
Social media is bursting with stories about people and businesses that stepped up to do the right thing last week. There was the Dad who walked miles to spend the night at school with his five-year-old, who had never spent a night away from home. And the Publix that delivered food to the high school across the street. Not to mention the thousands who reached out to stranded strangers with everything from a bottle of water to a bed to sleep in.
But lurking behind these warm and fuzzy stories are too many examples of companies that failed the test under pressure. A major hotel ended up with hundreds of stranded motorists in the lobby for the night, yet didn’t provide them as much as a pillow. A friend of ours was among the stranded, and sent us the photo of a man forced to take a tablecloth off a table to use as a blanket. A movie theater was accused, perhaps falsely, of turning away stranded people at 1 a.m. with a terse, “Employees only.” Another hotel is accused of asking a woman and child to leave because their small dog violated the chain’s No Pets policy.
Did these companies fail because they have bad intentions? We don’t think so. In the case of the hotel chain that didn’t provide the stranded pillows or blankets, we know first hand that the hotel manager was trying to help people. It’s likely that the breakdown in his hotel was because no crisis plan existed, so what-to-do-in-a-crisis procedures and expectations were never communicated to every employee.
Are we likely to face last week’s situation again? Perhaps not, but there’s always another crisis ahead. Smart companies prepare.