We work in a very life-affirming industry, committed to creating peak experiences for people that form some of their most valued and precious memories.
With such a positive mindset running through the sector, it’s understandably tempting to always hope for the best and to focus on innovation, outreach, development, and growth, rather than spending time imagining the many disasters that could befall even the best prepared.
So when things go wrong and a backward step is forced on us in the form of some kind of incident, it can be jarring from the point of view of organisation culture and leave attractions operators very exposed if emergency planning hasn’t been top of the to-do list.
In this issue, we talk to attractions that have had to face huge challenges and setbacks as a result of fires, floods, earthquakes, and accidents (see page 74). We hear firsthand how they dealt with the challenges they faced and what they learned from these experiences.
It takes a generous spirit to share stories of failure and catastrophe, so we’re grateful to our contributors for sharing their stories and their hard-won advice.
It’s easy to think big national institutions must have things like disaster planning all sewn up, yet this is clearly not always the case, as was illustrated in September 2018, when the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro suffered a catastrophic fire that destroyed most of its two million artifacts. Firefighters didn’t have enough water because two hydrants were dry and 200 years of history went up in flames.
The two biggest challenges in relation to preparedness are having an effective and regularly-updated disaster management plan which can be rapidly implemented and getting decent, affordable insurance which will be a help rather than a hindrance when it comes to making a claim.
With climate change increasing the frequency of disasters, the insurance industry is being squeezed and that squeeze is being passed on to customers, making claiming ever more complex and challenging: it took Christchurch museum seven years to settle after the earthquake, for example.
Attractions that are prepared cope the best, so if your disaster planning needs work, now really is the time to act.