Conference Aims to Help Hospitality, Tourism Industry Respond to Crisis

September 21, 2007 - News Release

There’s no way to predict when a crisis, emergency or disaster will occur, but helping hospitality and tourism professionals manage the risks and respond to such events is the goal of a conference being organized by the University of Guelph.

The conference, presented by U of G's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) in partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, runs Oct. 1 and 2 at the Renaissance Toronto Airport Hotel.

Crisis situations can potentially affect millions of people, said conference organizer and HTM professor Tanya MacLaurin. “The hospitality and tourism industries serve vast numbers of people and are responsible for their well-being,” she said.

“Many members of the industry may not have had to deal with a crisis event, but it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and preparedness will help lessen the loss and speed the recovery.”

Situations such as the BSE crisis, SARS, 9/11, hurricane Katrina and the looming presence of a global flu pandemic have all heightened the need for the tourism and hospitality industries to develop ways to effectively respond to a crisis and minimize the negative outcomes, she said.

“These sorts of unanticipated events have really got the global and Canadian hospitality and tourism industries thinking about preparedness planning and emergency response," MacLaurin said.

"Everyone talks about crisis management, but when the unthinkable strikes, there seems to be a real disconnect between the response plan and its execution.”

The conference, which features speakers from Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia, will address emergency preparedness in Canada at the federal level, a reality check for safety and security in Canada by the RCMP, preparing for the 2010 Olympics, crisis recovery management strategies, crisis communication, terrorism and crime, and health and safety issues. Key features of the conference are a global best practices panel and a corporate preparedness interactive activity.

HTM professor Jamie Gruman will open the conference by discussing the current state of the hospitality industry’s state of preparedness based on findings from a recent research study he conducted with Guelph professors Nita Chhinzer and Geoff Smith. Other speakers include representatives of Public Safety Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP, the Justice Institute of British Columbia and McDonald’s.

More information and a complete list of presenters is available online.

Prof. Tanya MacLaurin
School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
519 824-4120, Ext. 56309

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1