Mark Chambers: Eden Hotel Collection

Like many, the Eden Hotel Collection was affected by news reporting of the floods earlier in the year. MD Mark Chambers urges hoteliers to fight back!

With spring now well and truly upon us and with blossom on the trees and the unexpectedly warm weather, it is hard to believe that a mere 8 weeks ago the country was in the grip of some of the worst storms the country has seen in years.

Flooding destroyed homes, flights were grounded and the severe weather wreaked havoc on the roads, on agriculture and on day to day life for many people.

Some areas were, of course, hit worse than others but national media coverage of the difficulties was blasted to the public on a daily basis. The sometimes sensationalist reporting styles of many of the national tabloids made out that entire counties were cut off and a ‘no go’, rather than just highlighting the difficulties in specific locations.

Somerset and the South West, where we have a number of hotels, was unfortunately badly hit which had an impact not only on the public, but of course on small, local businesses. Our problem was not that we were battling the weather, but we were hit by the negative media coverage and the sometime ‘scaremongering’ of the national press. Whilst some parts of the counties were certainly in difficulties, access to our hotels was never compromised and guests could happily have reached their destination, however many cancelled due to the nature of the news coverage.

The media simply don’t realise the effect that such reporting can have on small businesses and incidents like these can herald dark times for the tourist industry but there is always something that organisations can do in the face of adversity.

So what can we do? We can embrace the negatives and turn them into positives. We can think outside the box to immediate actions that will counter the inevitable trough periods in trading.

Actionable Intelligence: 5 Top Tips

  1. Forge partnerships with appropriate organisations who share the common problems. To collaborate and share best practise gives us a greater voice.
  2. Seek out media contacts that are carrying the sometimes misleading stories and present a positive spin. Building relationships with these reporters can help to counter balance negative reporting when they are properly informed that not all is ‘doom and gloom’.
  3. Lobby government agencies such as local tourism authorities, MPs and councillors and let them know that businesses in their area are still there, trading and unaffected.
  4. Though we are loath to do this on a regular basis, certain times call for certain measures. Activating ‘distress rates’ with third party websites will help to get the word out that your business is still trading and will induce uplift in business for your trough periods.
  5. Never forget the great British stiff upper lip. In times of crisis the people of this country pull together and often if they can help each other they will.

To quote a popular phrase, in times of difficulty try to “keep calm and carry on”.

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