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Crisis Essay Ice Storms

In: English and Literature

Submitted By codebra
Words 2068
Pages 9
Although an ice storm may not seem to have the same type of effects as some other crises may have on the hospitality industry, there are many negative outcomes from them. Ice storms are very dangerous in the fact that you never know when it could turn into one. Weather may be getting weather, even warmer, but if you’ve got rain, especially at the end of the winter season, it could easily turn to ice in a second. All types of storms can have some effect on any type of operation but in particular, those that are non-essential. As stated by the Government of Canada, “freezing rain is tough, clings to everything it touches and is more slippery than snow. A little freezing rain is dangerous, a lot can be catastrophic” (http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/knw/ris/str-eng.aspx#c4). Things such as electrical, heating, plumbing, gas, and any other type of power outlet can be effected by ice storms, especially with them being outside. The next few paragraphs are an explanation into how ice storms can affect a hospitality operation from the greenhouse, up to the actual restaurant itself. As well we personally interviewed Sarah Scott about her experience with an ice storm at Inn On The Twenty. There are several different areas that can be affected by the severe effects of an ice storm. As the rest of this report will show, the effects can spread right from the farmers to the restaurant/hotel and even directly to the guest at such locations. The primary focus of the interview that will assist in the findings about the consequences of the crisis, how to properly manage such a crisis and what is to be learned after going through the crisis. As previously mentioned, the effects of an ice storm can go from the farm to the customers. For the purposes of this report, the information given will be listed in that order. As found in the online article “Ice storm crushes Godsden farm that old vegetables at Pepper Place”, the effects of ice storms in this situation took out the equivalent to almost $200,000 worth of lettuce and other produce. Rod Palmer woke up to the sound of his 6 greenhouses collapsing due to the strenuous amounts of ice and snow on the top of them. In a smaller community that offers fresh produce in farmers markets and within many of its restaurants, such a large hit to the fresh produce will have a catastrophic effect on sales for everyone involved. This situation relates very closely to the Niagara Region because of the many greenhouses and the fresh produce grown in the area. A situation such as this would have a terrible domino effect on many of the local restaurants that pride them self on providing fresh and local cuisine. “Owls Hollow Farm delivers produce to several Birmingham restaurants… All of them were left scrambling to find substitute providers. Because the greenhouse allowed palmer to grow year round, he could supply lettuce and other vegetables to restaurants at a time when other farmers can’t”. (http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/01/ice_storm_crushes_gadsden_farm.html). Some of the direct effects that this would have not only in Birmingham but if such a situation occurred in the Niagara region would be that restaurants may have to change their menus with no notification due to a lack of local produce. In an operation such as Inn on the 20, when providing for large groups of people and having a set menu, this causes an even bigger issue. When a bride, groom, host to an event chooses a specific menu they may be set on certain dishes and this could cause a lack of product therefore a lack of their wanted dish. This could cost the operation more money than anticipated due to having to find substitute products. In relation to Sarah’s situation, the ice storm affected her daily operations, as she had no power. The ice had knocked out all power and the kitchen could obviously not be used. No warning of such storm had been heard of and Sarah had a breakfast set for that morning for 52 guests. In the circumstances that they were given, instead of closing, Sarah became proactive. She called one staff member and asked them to go to Sobeys to pick up fruit and baked goods and another staff member was sent to Tim Hortons to pick up coffee that had been requested by Sarah. Once these staff members arrived, the kitchen staff aided in setting up the dining room and preparing the food to look as presentable as possible and they were able to complete the breakfast on time. It is a good thing Sarah was as pro-active as such was because there was no clause in the contract for said event and if they had cancelled, it would have been a major loss of money for the Inn. In another situation found in an article called “Ice Storm Delays Grand Opening of Sensu” it shows how an ice storm can cause problems to restaurants and even hotels before the doors even open for business. In the case of Sensu restaurant in Indianapolis, there was an ice storm that was so bad that it delayed the grand opening because of water and ice damage to the building. “The melting of thick ice has revealed to construction crews damage to the roof and exterior walls of the brick building” (http://blog.sensuindy.com/blog/indy-sensu/ice-storm-delays-grand-opening-of-sensu) this is something that cannot be let go. The structure of the building must be at 100% before starting to finish the interior of any building. This situation set back the grand opening by approximately 2 weeks, which is a large amount of sales lost out on due to a storm. Not only did Sensu lose out on potential profit, they would have had to pay extra money to fix the damages. The ways in which they managed this crisis was that they allowed those guests who could not make the rescheduled grand opening date to refund their tickets at full price. There were several charities involved in this particular restaurant opening so many people would leave the money in the charity even if not joining the grand opening. A scenario such as this could happen anywhere in the world but the effects would be the same whether it was in Indianapolis or Niagara region. The restaurant must absorb the cost or hotel that is opening and they must use public relation techniques to properly manage the guests who in this case had purchased tickets. Another scenario that is closely related to that of Sarah Scott’s is in the article “Snow, ice storms have chilling effects on restaurant sales”. In this article found in the Business Publications on www.findarticles.com , it starts off by saying how “restaurant operators have begun thawing out from early-winter ice storms and heavy snowfalls that put sales into a deep freeze for several days” (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_3_33/ai_53657614/). No business especially a restaurant business wants to lose out on sales especially based on something they cannot predict and plan for. Sarah could not have predicted this storm. She was given no advance warning of the storm either, so all she could do when this storm hit was be pro-active. There were some techniques used within this article that could have greatly impacted Sarah’s decisions when in a similar situation. “The chain provided hotel accommodations for the employees so that restaurants could be open”. This would work for Sarah, as there are onsite accommodations that the staff could have stayed in to ensure they would be able to work. In the future, if another ice storm of this magnitude were to hit, hopefully Sarah will have the advance warning. If not, their should be some staff that stay on site, so that there are people that can work in a crisis, where others may not be able to make it in. The cost of the rooms would be absorbed by the fact that business is still able to go on. Without staff, no operation would be able to function and without business, there is no money. The chances of the rooms being sold out at a time like that would be very low so the opportunity cost is not very high. For both Sarah and the New York restaurant owners in the article, even if they had to close the doors, there would still be fixed costs so even minimal sales is better than none. The article also speaks to how the harsh winters typically result in lower store sales. With such icy roads, guests are afraid to drive to a restaurant, conference, and hotel unless it is out of necessity. Luckily for the Inn On The Twenty, most guests that stay there or come for events are staying at the hotel. Another article that directly relates to the same situation as Sarah is that found on www.examiner.com. The main topic covered within this article is the effects that an ice storm has on not only the food and beverage portion of a conference, but the event planning, scheduling, etc. As Sarah was the Banquet Manager at Inn on the 20, she would have been the direct contact with the people who were planning the breakfast. She would have had to change plans minute by minute based on how many people were able to show up if they even did show up. In the article, it talks of how the decision is easy for the guest of a conference. They can always wait until the next day of the conference or until later in the day when the weather conditions lighten up. As far as the managers (Sarah) are concerned, this is one less person arriving at the hotel, arriving for lunch, dinner and taking place in the meeting. As previously mentioned, it is almost equally as hard to predict how many staff members will be able to make it to work given the icy weather conditions. Without staff, the guests that do show up will not be given the experience you want them to remember. “Hotels have to make revenue & ice storms create havoc” (http://www.examiner.com/hotels-in-nashville/ice-storms-versus-hotels). This is a perfect example of what is being covered in this report. Regardless of what the situation is, any operation is always in business because they are there to make a profit as well as to provide a product or service. All in all, Ice storms can be a major disaster and create quite a crisis. You never know when they can hit and what may start out as rain, can turn into a freezing hell. If you have the ability to predict such weather, you are lucky, but for the most part you need to have plans in place if you get hit. From the articles found and the interview with Sarah, we can see you can do things to keep business moving in said storms, as long as your pro-active. You always need to be one step ahead and looking to solve the worst. Never resort to closing or giving up, until you have exhausted all avenues and options for your operation, as you can usually find a way around said storms.

APA Citation
1. Government of Canada, gov’t info in ice storms, 2010-08-03, Ottawa, Ontario, http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/knw/ris/str-eng.aspx#c4
2. Swant, Martin, farmer greenhouse collapse and effects on local restaurants, Birmingham News, January 22, 2011, http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/01/ice_storm_crushes_gadsden_farm.html
3. Monroe, Janet, delay of grand opening due to ice storm and its effects on structure of building, Indianapolis, IN, February 24, 2011, http://blog.sensuindy.com/blog/indy-sensu/ice-storm-delays-grand-opening-of-sensu
4. Papiernik, Richard L., lowered restaurant sales and volume and techniques used to continue business, Nation’s Restaurant News, January 18, 1999, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_3_33/ai_53657614/
5. Carter, Gregory A., hotels/ banquets and how to manage storms, Nashville Hotels Examiner, December 16, 2010, http://www.examiner.com/hotels-in-nashville/ice-storms-versus-hotels…...

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