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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.

The Perishable Items in Your Disaster Response Kit: The Number One Thing You Should Know About Hotel Rooms In An Emergency Deployment

Take a minute to think of the things that you must consume by a certain date or, one way or another, they’ll go bad.  Expire.  Go away.  A few common examples come to mind.

  • Bananas
  • Milk
  • The batteries in your smoke detector

Now think about your BC/DR plan.  What could possible expire in that?

  • Ride-out supplies, particularly food
  • Fueling contracts
  • Employee contact data
  • Hotel rooms

What?  Hotel rooms?  Surely I mistyped, right?  A hotel room, once built, is there until the building is demolished.  That’s true, but the concept of a hotel room night – any room at any hotel on any given night – is perishable.

Think about it.  A hotel with 300 rooms has an opportunity every single night to sell those 300 rooms.  However, if the night comes and goes and some of those rooms go unsold, then the hotel’s opportunity to sell them passes as well.  The flip side of that is that during peak season or a major event like a disaster that causes a business disruption, those room nights are few and far between.

Kind of a different way to view hotels, isn’t it?  But that, my business continuity friends, is the premise for every interaction you have with hotels.  And if it’s not, it should be.  Every question, every guarantee you ask them to make, every contract you sign.  It’s all based on the concept of hotel room nights being a perishable good.

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Add to that the fact that often times other people want to eat your bananas . . . er, get their hands on your hotel rooms, especially in an emergency or fail-over situation.  The term “unknown unknowns” was a buzz phrase a few years back but there’s a reason.  What do you not know about guaranteed hotel room nights that you might need in the event of a business disruption?

Don’t leave it to chance.  Or luck.  Or even to what you think your agreement with a hotel guarantees.  Those hotel room night unknowns?  Make it a point to know about them.  Or hire someone who does.