A natural disaster, such as a bushfire or flood, can disrupt and impact your business in many ways. Contact your guests, employees and suppliers to keep them informed of the situation and if you are open for trade, or when you plan to reopen.
Quick tip: Assess the threat
Consider the weather conditions, any warnings and the possibility that you will need to activate your emergency and evacuation plans in the event of an imminent threat. The Fire Danger Ratings give you an indication of the possible consequences of a fire, if one were to start. The higher the fire danger rating, the more dangerous a fire is likely to be. Check the fire danger rating for your area on the NSW Rural Fire Service website.
Quick tip: Look after your visitors
- Keep everyone safe – make sure you have mobile phone numbers for all guests currently visiting you and stay in regular contact.
- Prepare evacuation messaging and instructions and share with guests, along with details of the local ABC radio station, so they can access up-to-date information in the event of mobile network interruption.
- Reach out to guests with upcoming bookings and provide clear updates and information.
Quick tip: Look after your employees
- Keep in touch with your employees and advise them of the impact the natural disaster has had on the business.
- Check in with your employees to see if they can work or have also been impacted.
- More information about your options and employee leave entitlements during natural disasters or emergencies, and what to do if your business temporarily closes, is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman by calling 13 13 94 during business hours or online.
Quick tip: Stay in touch with your distribution partners
Update your distribution partners, such as inbound tour operators (ITOs) and online travel agents (OTAs), through which your visitors have booked.
Keep them updated on:
- Safety status of your business and visitors.
- Experience or itinerary changes that you are implementing to keep current and future guests safe.
- NSW Rural Fire Service’s tips for visitors on Travelling in a Bushfire Area, which you can also share with your distribution partners to share with their guests ahead of travel.
- Cancellations required due to a natural disaster.
If you are unable to accept bookings due to bushfire conditions or other natural disasters, ensure you update the live inventory on your online booking software to block availability so visitors cannot book online during the disaster – both directly and via the online travel agent platforms that link to the software.
Ensure messaging on social media is in line with the traveller advice
Quick tip: Social media during bushfires or natural disasters
- Acknowledge the event and post safety information. Ensure messaging on social media is in line with the traveller advice issued by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) or local travel dashboard.
- Post factual details about business closures.
- If visitors cannot experience your product or destination due to nearby bushfires or natural disasters, you can consider posting inspiring images so visitors can dream of their next trip once the event is over, if appropriate.
- Perception is powerful. Images of bushfire or flood impacts can create the perception of damage that outlasts the initial impact. If your property or region is not heavily impacted, posting images of this helps to provide real-time information and assurance for potential visitors and distribution partners concerned about damage.
- Post sensitively and show empathy for affected regions at a time when they are vulnerable.
- Avoid posting and sharing misinformation or potential 'fake news’.
If your business is damaged or closed due to bushfires, floods or other natural disasters
- Update your free product listing on sydney.com or visitnsw.com through the Get Connected Program.
- Post closure details on social media.
- Advise your local tourism manager, Accredited Visitor Information Centre and Destination Network.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to advise Destination NSW of any updates to your product offering.
Use the Prepare for the Unexpected - Build a Business Continuity Plan guide
Refer to the Prepare for the Unexpected guide from the NSW Small Business Commission to implement your business continuity plans, using the supplied templates and checklists.
Get accurate visitor information during bushfires
- NSW Rural Fire Service website
- Bushfire Information Line: 1800 679 737
- Fire Danger Ratings
- NSW Rural Fire Service on social media
- NSW Health advice on bushfire response and recovery
- Set your LGA disaster dashboard. Contact your local council for details.
- Phone apps: Hazards Near Me NSW, Emergency+, Live Traffic NSW
- ABC Local Radio
This Quick Tips guide has been produced by Destination NSW in collaboration with Rural Fire Service (RFS). Access the PDF version of this article here.