Over its course of 30+ years in business, Resort Collection has seen its fair share of crises. Whether the crisis is a man-made mistake, natural disaster, or global pandemic, we have become seasoned experts on how to survive and still thrive in any hostile environment. In the past 10 years alone, we have encountered our fair share of crises. These were not your typical crises, but circumstances and monumental events that came with no playbook or instruction manual on how to keep a business afloat. Resort Collection has proved to not only overcome these obstacles but become a sought-after resource and example in our industry on crisis management. Let’s go back to where our crisis journeys began…
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
On April 20, 2010, the oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, operating off the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, exploded and sank. This resulted in the death of 11 workers on the rig and the largest spill of oil in the history of marine oil drilling operations. Four million barrels of oil flowed from the damaged Macondo well over an 87-day period, before it was finally capped on July 15, 2010. The effects of the oil spill were immediate and extreme. Other than the standings and deaths of marine and wildlife, the impacts of the economic prospects along the Gulf Coast states were dire, affecting many of our needed industries—especially tourism. Between the national media sensationalizing the appearance of the Gulf of Mexico, the images of tar balls washing ashore, and desperate animals soaked in brown oil, vacationing in Panama City Beach came to a screeching halt. Resort Collection decided it was time to act. We started producing and posting daily, live videos showcasing the condition of our beaches across all pertinent social media channels. These videos were picked out by national media outlets and acquired thousands of views. Thanks to the quick-thinking of Resort Collection’s team to “show” our visitors rather than just tell them our beaches are clean was a great tactic in motivating them to travel to our destination. This almost single-handedly proved Panama City Beach to still be a viable vacation option for the summer of 2010.
Only two years ago, Panama City Beach and surrounding communities were devastated by unprecedented, category 5 hurricane Michael. With maximum sustained winds of 161 mph and over $25 billion in damage, Michael was the first category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since 1992. During the days following Michael, Resort Collection associates displayed extraordinary strength and dedication, putting their personal needs second to the company. We saw them show up for work the day following the storm, when lines of communication were nonexistent, to help in any way they could. They immediately began to inspect units to see if damage was incurred, relayed information through social media and available outlets, bought temporary phones with AT&T to further provide communication, and even drove out-of-state to ensure payments were made on time. Resort Collection was proud to step in and offer help to our community in a time where everyone needed to come together. We cancelled and replaced most guest reservations in October and November 2018 with displaced employees, first responders, and recovery teams. It was an honor to coordinate with local, state and federal officials in their relief efforts.
The COVID‑19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread worldwide and has overtaken the year 2020. Panama City Beach has dealt with beach closures, bar and restaurant closures, mandatory mask mandates, and the most impactful regulation—short-term vacation rental closures. Thankfully, most of those obstacles and mandates have been lifted, but the fear and unknown of this virus has undoubtedly been a crisis for not only Resort Collection, but the entire world. While our state and community has faced the threat of COVID-19 head-on, Resort Collection has been busy working on your behalf by providing everyone with helpful information and tools tailored for our owner’s assets and guests of Panama City Beach. Our associates have stepped up to help others in financial need, managers have encouraged many members of their staff to work from home, and extensive measures have been made to keep our associates employed. These efforts should be recognized and are even more reason to believe that the Resort Collection team is the best. Our team continues to take many preventative measures to mitigate the chance of spreading any such virus. These measures include but are not limited to:
- Installing hands-free hand sanitizing stations in all resort common areas we manage as quickly as possible.
- Wiping down all phones, computer mouses, credit card machines, keyboards, drawer pulls, doorknobs, etc. throughout all work shifts and before leaving each day
- Washing hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Using hospital-grade hand sanitizer
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as shaking hands
- Advising all employees who display any symptoms of the flu or a cold to seek medical assistance and avoid the workplace.
- Our housekeeping policy includes sanitizing measures provided by the American Chemistry Council’s guidelines for cleaning in commercial settings list in between guests.
Other great initiatives Resort Collection has taken during this time to ensure visitors of Panama City Beach and our guests are taken care of include:
- A thorough and regularly updated Travel Information landing page on the Resort Collection website
- Temporary cancellation policies in response to the changing marketplace conditions due to COVID-19
- Brand new bedding in each rental unit that can all be washed and sanitized upon each guest’s departure
Resort Collection’s most recent exposure to a crisis came only recently during the landfall of category 2 hurricane Sally. While this might cause concern for other companies, we consider ourselves seasoned experts in strong hurricanes, still on the road to recovery following hurricane Michael’s impact only 2 years ago. Over the few days prior to Sally, Resort Collection began preparations to ensure our resort properties took every precaution against this storm. From moving pool deck and beach furniture, to placing sandbags around indoor entrances, we believe our team was proactive in preventing damage from wind or flooding. Our teams have an “all-hands-on-deck” mentality and didn’t skip a beat in working through Hurricane Sally, so much so that operations returned to business-as-usual the day following landfall.
Critical Steps & Leadership
Through all these events, there is one common theme in how to best handle every situation—communication and a lot of it. It all starts with anticipation of what is to come and immediately responding. Our guests, rental owner, and staff never have to question where we stand, the condition of our resorts, or any policy changes because we think two-steps ahead of what the next course of action should be. We thank our experiences, albeit unwanted experiences, to our proactiveness and quick-thinking. The best way to fail during crisis response is to think “it can’t happen to me.” Planning ahead, addressing weaknesses, and being flexible are key strengths Resort Collection has acquired over the years. Simplifying the decision-making process and going straight to what will keep our company afloat is the fast-acting responsiveness that has kept us going now for over three decades. We have survived the absolute worst. There really isn’t any better argument in saying we’re crisis management experts.