Next, it implements alternate methods of communication with the properties as needed, since landlines and cell phones may be inoperable. For example, text messaging and e-mail may be able to get through when voice cannot. It also implements similar backup communication plans with suppliers as needed.
"During Katrina, we couldn't get through by landline, and cell phone service was sketchy," recalls Miller. "We have outfitted all of the hurricane-prone hotels with satellite phones. We also make sure all GMs have Blackberries, since text-messages and e-mails get through better than phone calls."
Hilton also created a website for properties specifically for hurricane preparation and recovery, where it lists available resources. It has also established contracts for refrigerated trucks, lists of hurricane supplies through its suppliers, etc. Hilton also has a plan to update general managers daily on the status of suppliers and whether they will be able to deliver each day.
Accessibility and the ability to get work done may be limited during the post-hurricane period due to curfews, checkpoints, and road closures. As such, Hilton has a program that allows authorized individuals to display Hilton IDs, uniforms, and vehicle markings.
"During Katrina, we were subjected to roadblocks, and the rules for getting around changed almost daily," recalls Miller. "One day, we would need a letter from the sheriff of the parish, and the next day, we'd need a letter from the mayor. The National Guard might let us through, but the local police might not."
As a result, Miller purchased some magnetic signs with Hilton's logo to put on the side of vehicles. "We found that, if we looked official, they would let us through." Miller now has magnetic signs that he can stick in his suitcase and take with him anywhere to stick on rental vehicles.
Inventory control and management is also a post-hurricane priority. Hilton has a process in place for identifying secure storage locations, access control, in and out procedures, and security access. Another strategy involves utilizing regional support. That is, hotels not affected can provide support to hotels in need, such as laundry services and supplies. The next step involves record keeping and controls, such as centralized purchase order logs and maintaining accurate records required for insurance scrutiny.
Update emergency contact for suppliers
Establish alternate communication strategies for key suppliers (cell phone, blackberry, etc.)
Ensure multiple backups for key suppliers
Involve key suppliers in developing disaster preparedness plans
Gather supplier status reports and contact backup suppliers where needed
Gathers hotel status reports including status of utilities, operational status, immediate needs, and damage assessment
Implement alternate methods of communication with both suppliers and other properties as needed
Ensure accessibility using Hilton logos and badges
Identify regional support-what can non-affected hotels provide