Yesterday I wrote a blog post about travel survival which covers emergencies on the road, but what about when you make it to your destination. What about being is one of the worst possible places in the event of a tornado or hurricane. And for you guys that like to joke around… what if the zombies attack when we are at the hotel with nowhere to go (I don’t even remotely care about the later, but its all in good fun.)
In my past stay in Texarkana, AR or Texarkana, TX…either one since the town doesn’t know what state to belong to, we had a storm that was going to hit soon and it I had the opportunity to think like a survivalist. I was staying at the Best Western Texarkana Inn and Suites. I took a little time to consider what this meant for me and the family, and what I could do with my resources. I also thought about what I could do to make my next trip better. I did a mini-interview with the General Manager over the Hotel Emergency Procedures and Checklists and what resources they had available.
In a forum, a frequent traveler said the following:
“I was in CA during the recent “San Diego Blackout” that resulted in power outages … I know during a hurricane or other natural disaster, I would just be happy to have a roof over my head, but in this case, I would have thought the hotel would try to do everything they could to ensure guests still had a positive experience…
…they didn’t communicate the situation to the guests, or at least to this guest and my +1… we found an elevator that didn’t work and hallways that seemed sort of dim. On our way up the stairs to the 6th floor, we flagged down a maintenance man and he told us the power was out. Shouldn’t the staff have notified the guests by the pool so they could consider their arrangements for the rest of the day and have the opportunity to use the daylight to their advantage?
Some other notes from the next 8 or so hours without power:
– No effort was made by the hotel to communicate the situation to guests… I was told that they had no idea since their phones weren’t working. Really? Nobody had a cell phone?…
– When I asked what the plan for the evening was if power wasn’t restored before sunset, I was told that I had a flashlight in my room. That’s it. I’m not sure what more I expected, but maybe a little more effort to help us make the most out of the evening?
– …I ended up calling the restaurant myself from my dark room and was told they were cancelling service.
– Turn down service was cancelled…
– No A/C, …there was nobody even offering additional water in the lobby…
– …not one single hotel employee checked in on us and asked if we were OK…
Am I silly to think that they could have done more to make the stay more pleasant…the staff seemed more interested in telling me it wasn’t their fault…
And the answer to his last question is no. They could have handled it better. If you want to see the sections I cut out, click the link I provided above. This hotel could have offered bottled water to hot guests, they could have made it more fun for the guests, they could have kept their guests INFORMED. They were not prepared for a simple blackout and knowing how to provide exceptional service in an out of the ordinary circumstance. Think about how bad it could have been during an actual disaster. The hotel that this forum post was made about was NOT the one I stayed at, just to be clear.
Now to my mini-interview at the Best Western Texarkana Inn and Suites as I was rushing out the door of the lobby:
Question: Where will you take all of your customers in the event of a disaster? Answer: We take them to the stairwell since it has no furniture to cause a threat. My thoughts: With the current layout that I saw, the best spot would be the stairwell, but it is not very interior. It is basically the exterior most rooms in the hotel. What makes it the most ideal place? Every room is exterior and has windows. The stairs are at least metal or cement and provides a shelter in a pinch from falling debris, but not for many people, especially when we consider 1-200 guests at any given time. I followed up later and she actually told me that she believed that they had rebar reinforced cement as the stairwell walls. I am very pleased by this. Good job, Best Western! Please be certain though. Train your people to know this for certain.
Question: What does the hotel have in place in the event of a long term power outage? Answer: We have an emergency generator that will run some basic necessities and the emergency lights only. I think we actually have a couple of generators. My thoughts: This was a good answer. I like knowing that an emergency generator is available onsite to at least give some lighting for everyone to get where they need to go. I still would like to know a few more details, like running the kitchen, which is a vital emergency asset. The manager did not know exactly if the kitchen could be run, or the Lobby AC. I kind of doubt the ability to use the kitchen.
Question: In an extended power outage due to tornado or hurricane, where people were urged to stay inside, what food provisions are available for a typical staff and guest count and for how long? Well we keep about a week or so of stock for breakfast at any given time. Follow up question: But if they are required to stay in the hotel due to hazards outside, how long do you think it would last? Three days or so? Answer: I guess it could, if all they wanted to eat was breakfast foods every day. My thoughts: They didn’t seem to understand what I was asking, but I got the answer. If you were stuck in this hotel, you will probably have food enough for about 2-3 days. This is about what I expected. This hotel, although minimally, seems to give some thought to emergencies for the guests.
This post is going extremely long and I have a lot of suggestions for you all. Most people don’t want to read a novel each day, so I have to cut it down. I will finish up with my survival suggestions for hotels and for the individuals staying at hotels on Monday. I hope this has given you guys enough of an appetite to visit Monday’s post!
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