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U.S. Winter Outlook: Warmer North, Cooler South – How Will Your Plan Adapt? This Month in Business Continuity

If you’re reading this you already know that September is National Preparedness Month and if you watch Game of Thrones you know that winter is coming. Both are true and September is a great month to celebrate preparedness given that it’s usually the peak month for hurricane activity and yet fall is right around the corner. And now that we’re close to being on the heels of what’s been another blessedly quiet Atlantic tropical storm season, it’s time to shift attention to prep for potential winter disruptions.

Does your winter plan need to be updated? As you discuss what could be cut and what needs to be added, a great motivator for your team is to ask what lessons were learned from last winter. Depending on where you’re based, records both high and low were set across the U.S. and the nastiest of the truly bitter cold didn’t hit the Northeast until late in January and into February. Were any resources mistakenly re-allocated away from preparedness before the severe punch late in the season? What was the impact on the company and what could have been done more efficiently?

2015-09 Weather MapI’ve watched seasonal weather outlooks evolve in quality and specificity for more than 20 years – trust me, they’ve gotten a lot better at it – and NOAA’s current take on a continuing strong El Niño deserves respect – most of the other outlooks I’ve looked at concur with their position. Short version: warmer than usual in the north, colder than usual in the south and some rain for the West Coast, which can be both a good and a bad thing depending on how you feel about flash flooding and mudslides. Be informed, prepare and build robustness to protect against black swans. (And despite all this, always plan for the event, not for the seasonal outlook.)

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Personal Continuity: The Pros and Cons of Medic Alert Apps

We’ve all had ICE contacts on our phones for years and medic alert apps (link spoiler: awesome stock photo!) have been around for a while but now there are some newer ones that provide even more specific information to medical professionals in case of an emergency that involves, well, you. The good news is that these apps provide a great deal of information about you should the need arise. The bad news is that they provide a great deal of information about you to anyone who gets a hold of your phone. Unless you have a severe chronic health issue, is it worth the risk? Let us know what you think in the comments section. Knock on wood, I’m fairly healthy so for now I’m just sticking to the ICE. So to speak.

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Deployment Housing: Perfecting Your Backup Plan

Last week there was yet another great ACP Webinar Series presentation, this time by our own Michelle Lowther entitled, “How To Get What You Need From Hotels When Your Plan (And Your Business!) Depend On It.” If that topic interests you, all I’ll say is that the presentation is most definitely not a commercial and that it garnered a 4.6 out of 5 (92% excellent) average survey ranking by the people who attended live. Go watch and share it around because doing so will make you look good. In a nutshell, it very comprehensively details the many items you need to factor when including deployment housing in your BCP.

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Five Ways To Make The Most of Hotel Loyalty Programs

I’m not a regular follower of something called theeverygirl.com but I saw this the other day and thought it worth passing along. A couple of the pointers are just good common sense but two of them resonate: utilize your points for more than just travel (think local perks) and take advantage of discounts and benefits with program partners.

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Marriott Tests In-Room Virtual Reality Service

With competition ever fiercer, hotels continue to ramp up their customer enticements, and the latest comes from Marriott, piloting virtual reality headsets that guests can borrow for 24 hours at two flagship properties in New York and London. The 16-year-old in me absolutely loves the idea but 95% of what I use a hotel room for, whether traveling for business or pleasure, is to sleep. It’s a neat perk but after a long day of doing whatever, I don’t know if I need to strap on a headset for a quick trip to the Andes. What do you think about this one?

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Saudi King Books Entire Hotel

Speaking of black swans, we’ve all heard of entire floors being booked by royalty but the entire hotel?  How’s THAT for an unexpected potential interruption of your deployment accommodations plan? I worked in VVIP travel and event management for more than 20 years and things like this happen way more often than is covered in the media. Always, always hedge your bets.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute planning session, let us know.

Two Reasons for BC Professionals to Join the Association of Contingency Planners: Better Results For You and More Money (Also For You)

I’m probably a little shy of the age (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!) when I can use phrases like “back in the day” but I don’t remember there ever being so very many options for different industry organizations to join.  I remember groups like the American Institute of Architects and the American Medical Association – old school professional organizations that seem to have been around for eons.  Now, however, and especially with the explosion of activity on LinkedIn, there seem to be half a dozen DONT-KEEP-SECRETSprofessional organizations for every industry, sub-industry, niche profession and one-of-a-kind vocation on the planet.  If you’re a left-handed pediatric veterinary cosmetic micro-surgeon, there’s a place for you.  The dilemma we sometimes face now: too many options.  But for BC pros, the Association of Contingency Planners makes it an easy choice.

Naturally the Association provides a number of excellent reasons for joining but for me it boils down to a single reason: opportunity.  Or maybe two single reasons: opportunity that leads to more money earned and more money saved by our clients.  Then there are the opportunities for education, networking and enhancement of my company’s BC and DR plans and suddenly, joining up makes a whole lot of sense. Annual dues (just $125) are pro-rated monthly so if you join this month you only have to pay for the rest of this year.  It’s a bargain.  Full disclosure: I don’t work for ACP in any capacity but Continuity Housing is indeed working with the Association in order to re-introduce their popular and free webinar series for its members.

[Speaking of which . . . the first of the webinar series will be “Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment: A Tale of Two Companies (Case Studies)” on Tuesday, August 12th at 10:30 Central presented by yours truly.  There are more than 60 negotiable terms in a hotel’s group booking contract, and this session will equip you with creative, unique ways to craft those contracts to your organization’s best advantage to fit the unique aspects of a crisis management booking.  Find out more and register for this free, fast-paced, 45-minute webinar here.]

So what’s the ROI on joining the ACP?  Results will vary depending on your level of commitment but let’s take a little field trip across the last eight years of my professional life:

  • 2006: I created Continuity Housing’s patent-pending program to guarantee companies hotel rooms on a contingency basis without having to pay an arm and a leg for them.
  • 2009: I joined ACP. (Should’ve joined earlier.)
    • Which begat a presentation I made to a local chapter about avoiding the pitfalls of securing guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a disaster and/or a business interruption.
    • Which led to me being asked to present similar material to other chapters.
    • Which resulted in me getting to meet ImpactWeather’s business continuity team managed by Ed Schlichtenmyer and, at that time, Mike Thomson who asked me to present not once but twice at the company’s annual Hurricane Symposium.
    • Which in turn introduced me to Ed Goldberg enabling me to present in a number of the original ACP Webinar Series which started in 2011.
    • Which fomented (I’m running out of terms that mean “which led to”) a continuing series of invitations for me to make presentations at national industry conferences hosted by Continuity Insights, EEI, ACP and CPM – as well as the webinar next month for ACP (we posted about that this past Wednesday) and presentations to local ACP chapters in CA, CT, FL, MA, NY, TX and WA.
    • And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on… (Click here if you’re too young to understand that reference.)
  • And all along the way and with increasing frequency, Continuity Housing has been exposed to more opportunities. And by opportunities, I mean contracts.  And by contracts, I mean revenue.

Also as a direct result of my membership, I got one degree closer to Kevin Bacon.  Just kidding.  Although that would be awesome and I encourage you to check out The Following some week.

And no, it’s not all, or even mostly, about the monetary gain.  It’s the less tangible bennies that keep me coming back to ACP.

acp-webinars-awesomeOne of the Continuity Housing team members goes fairly far offshore to fish from time to time and more than once in the past he’s told me about the informal but rigidly obeyed tradition of mariners helping each other out whenever a nearby crew or their boat is in trouble and that the entire BC community acts in much the same way.  We don’t keep secrets.  We share what we learn so that we all get better at what we do and learn new ways to keep even more people more efficiently out of harm’s way.  In fact, we attended a gathering the week before last hosted by the South Texas Chapter (see photo) and had a great time learning some new things, making some new connections and reconnections and hearing about what’s next, which for this particular chapter is a  very cool 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston in mid-August before the monthly chapter meeting and lunch.

So that’s what you get out of the ACP.  An engaged, devoted community, new approaches, better results.  And that’s the real benefit.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America.  Click to enlarge.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America. Click to enlarge.

For more information – including where your nearest chapter meets – visit the ACP website and click on the Membership tab at the top.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

Webinar Reminder: Establishing a Fail-Over Site – Perfecting the Equation of Where to Work AND Where to Sleep

Don’t forget to register for our 40-minute webinar, this Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM Central.  This will be an informative and fast-paced webinar wherein we follow one corporation’s successful fail-over from their headquarters in Houston to their fully functioning recovery site in Dallas. We’ll show how more than 50 of the company’s employees are able to easily and quickly deploy and benefit from the pre-assembly of the following requirements so that they’re able to keep the company operational despite a category 3 hurricane making landfall near Houston:

• Fully-functioning, comfortable working facilities using existing owned or leased ‘skeleton’ infrastructure
• Secure data access to your company network
• Ample parking
• Backup on-demand generator (not pre-installed permanent generator(s) requiring day-to-day maintenance)
• Fully functional mobile backup facilities at the fail-over site for expanded user workspace or additional data center infrastructure capacity
• Single-call activation of a team of hotel experts to manage all housing related issues during a deployment
• Pre-negotiated housing facilities at pre-inspected and approved hotels
• Guaranteed room nights for all employees
• Pre-established hotel rates
• Managed billing for all hotel expenses
• Exclusive logistical support staff to help with any on-site hotel needs

register-button This webinar will be presented by Steven O’Neal of Rentsys Recovery Services and Michelle Lowther of Continuity Housing, both of whom are long-time veterans of successful, durable corporate disaster recovery management.

Even if you’re unable to attend, we encourage you to register so that you receive a link to the recorded version after the presentation. This webinar is free to attend and you can share this invitation with anyone you’d like to. We’ll see you on the 18th!

Register here:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5956251653072421888