Friday, November 30, 2007

Peninsula Manila: Crisis Management 101

(Above: The lobby of the Peninsula Manila hotel. Without the tank.)

I deal with a lot of PR people. A few of them are stone dopes who do things like pitch good story ideas to multiple people simultaneously (you want to P.O. a reporter? There's a very fine way). But most of them are at least pretty good -- and some are absolutely excellent, top of the game, smart and savvy.

The hotel industry, it's been my experience, tends to have some of the very best PR people. In fact, I enjoy all hotel people in general, especially at the big multi-national companies. You routinely run into a savvy GM who's now running the resort in, say, Phoenix, having just come back from a few years running the five-star property in, say, Cairo.

I'm writing a book about my travels in the last eight years, and I find that some of the best stories are associated with hotel people.

They're among the last of the great classic travel adventurers, hotel people are. The good ones can think on their feet anywhere in the world, hit the ground running, never have a hair or a collar out of place, and still manage to keep the kitchen running and the sheets washed.

I'm especially impressed today with the way the staff and management at the Peninsula in Manila appear to have handled the nasty hostage crisis this week, which was the Manila radicals' latest adventure in Woody Allen-land, with crazy armed rebels who evidently had no idea what the hell they were doing.

Two bishops were said to have been part of the rebel group. Manila has one of these half-baked coup attempts about once a year, but this is the first one I've heard of that included a luxury hotel and two bishops. Not to mention a tank smashing through the Peninsula's doors and being driven right into the lobby.

Anyway, it's over.

Savoir-faire is what the best hotel people have, and they showed it in Manila, from what I'm hearing from friends in the industry.

Here are is how the hotel PR people handled the crisis. No fancy flack language, no obfuscation, just the facts -- and the contact names and numbers. No baloney. That's exactly what a reporter needs on a deadline in a bad situation. And it's also what you or I as a business traveler perhaps with plans to stay at the hotel might need to know:


News release Nov. 29, 3.15 p.m. -- "The Peninsula Manila has been occupied by a group of gunmen. There are no reports of any injuries to hotel guests, patrons or staff, and the matter is being dealt with by the relevant Philippine authorities ...The Peninsula Manila is currently being evacuated and hotel guests are being transferred to neighbouring hotels. ... The Peninsula Manila is now closed until further notice ..." {My note: The list of contacts for guests and press were attached, with names and phone numbers}

News release, Nov. 29, 7 p.m. -- "The occupation of the Peninsula Manila has now ended and the rebels have left the hotel. The matter is now being dealt with by the relevant Philippine authorities. Hotel guests are currently being accommodated at neighbouring hotels. ..." {Again, the list of contacts was attached}

News release Nov. 30: -- "Following the recent incident at The Peninsula Manila, the hotel is now closed temporarily and will re-open for business at 3:00 pm on Monday 3rd December 2007.

"Guests with bookings for arrival before Monday 3rd December are kindly requested to make alternative arrangements for their visit to Manila. For assistance, please contact the hotel on + 632 887 2888 or , and our staff will be pleased to help.
For general enquiries, please contact The Peninsula Manila on (632) 887 2888.

"For media enquiries, please contact Ms Irene Lau, Corporate Affairs Manager of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited on (852) 9094 3153 or Ms Sian Griffiths, Director of Communications, The Peninsula Hotels on (852) 9026 5217."

Just the facts.


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