Planning for a crisis

Operating with risk is a reality for any business. Risks can be generated from within a business or from external circumstances.

All tourism businesses are subject to Occupational Health and Safety legislation under which you have a duty of care to protect your staff and customers. It will simplify the management of a crisis situation if you have thought through the range of possible risks, and have identified how you would respond or cope with them.

Planning for a crisis gives you the opportunity to:

  • acquire appropriate resources you may need to respond effectively
  • implement processes that will address the crisis situation
  • train staff accordingly

Steps to managing risk

Managing risk involves working through the following steps to develop a risk management plan:

Step 1: Understand your business

To manage risk in your business requires understanding how your business operates. This means understanding what the essential ingredients are that make your business operate smoothly and successfully.

Consider things like:

  • suppliers or systems important for your business to work
  • technical systems your business relies on
  • important records or information that are essential for your business
  • security systems that require knowledge of codes or passwords, or keys to access important property or equipment
  • particular people or other businesses that you rely upon to survive
  • legal or other obligations that you must comply with as part of your business practice

Using the above examples, compile a list of all the essential things that help your business operate.

Step 2: Identify the risks

Your business faces some sort of risk from natural hazard no matter where you operate in Victoria.

Some parts of the state are more likely to be affected by certain types of disasters than others. In Victoria, regular crisis events such as bushfire, floods and blue green algae blooms can have significant impacts on the tourism industry.

An important stage in the risk management process is to identify which risks are relevant to your business.

List all of the potential risks in the Risk management plan - template (PDF 15.04 KB)PDF icon

Refer to the potential crisis events page for a full list of events that could affect your region or the State and may have an indirect or direct impact on your business.

Ask yourself:

  • What harmful incidents could occur within my business?
  • What types of natural or human disasters outside my business could prevent or hinder my business from operating?
  • What other events have occurred or could occur nearby or in the region that would have a major impact on my business?

Think about the:

  • physical or environmental hazards within your business
  • natural disasters – flood, fire, storm, drought
  • disease epidemics
  • human threats – computer hackers, terrorism, crime
  • unexpected events – power outages, blocked water pipes, gas leaks, supplier problems, building damage

It's important to note that events such as a bushfire can occur a long way from your business but still cause a significant downturn in trade. Your risk management plan needs to identify how you would manage this.

Get advice

Local councils

Talk to your local council to find out which risks are relevant to your area.

Each council also has a Municipal Emergency Management Plan which identifies the risks for your area. For further information on municipal emergency activities, read our page on official emergency information.

Emergency services agency

If your area is prone to flooding or bushfires, talk to the relevant emergency service agency such as the Country Fire Authority (CFA) or the Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) to find out how to best prepare your business.

Do your research

The Department of Justice has developed an Emergency Risks in Victoria Report which you can use to assist in assessing the emergency risks to Victoria that could affect tourism businesses.

Find out more about assessing a broader range of risks relating to your business, such as financial, political and employee risks.

Step 3: Assess and plan to address risks

What is the likelihood of these risks occurring and what would you need to action to address them if they occurred?

After you have identified possible risks to your tourism business, the next step is to estimate the likelihood of these events occurring and the level of impact on your business if they did occur.

Each business will have a different approach to risk:

  • You may be highly risk-averse and want to spend the time and resources on addressing almost all possible risks.
  • You may be prepared to accept that some risks are unlikely to occur and are perhaps too costly to address.
  • It is valuable to consider your approach to risk – what risks will you accept and which ones must be addressed.

Use the Risk management plan - template (PDF 15.04 KB)PDF icon to document your assessment of each risk identified. Give each risk a rating such as high, medium or low for the likelihood they will occur. Do the same for the level of impact on your business if they did occur.

Plan how you will address each risk

After identifying the most important risks to plan for:

  • consider what actions are needed to address or minimise each risk identified
  • plan how to reduce the impact of these risks on your business
  • document your work in a risk management plan

Prepare a risk management plan

Update your plan regularly

It's useful to review and update your risk management plan annually to keep it current. A more regular update may be required if an emergency or incident occurs or there is a change in your operating environment.

To minimise risk, staff should be trained on the actions you've identified. Operations manuals and position descriptions can also be updated to reflect your risk management plan.

Make a list of important contacts and information

Make a list of important contacts and information for use in the event of an emergency.

Handy tools