Is Your Business Prepared for a Disaster?

And I mean the big one. An earth shaking, falling from the sky, don’t come into the office for a couple of weeks sort of disaster? It will never happen to me I hear you saying. Hmmm. It almost happened to Tourwriter recently and it is probably happening somewhere in the world as I type. I ask again, are you prepared for a disaster?

Wellington Earthquake

Rubble on the streets of Wellington

We have had a few big earthquakes (6.5 on the Richter was the worst) recently in Wellington, home of TourWriter HQ. Nothing too serious although we did have a broken window up on the 22nd floor. We evacuated pretty smartly if you were wondering. We were out of the building for a couple of days whilst engineering reports confirmed the building was safe.  Not too big a deal, it could have been a lot worse. Christchurch suffered a disastrous earthquake in September 2010 and again in February 2011 with lives lost and buildings destroyed. Three long years later and the city is rebuilding, however some businesses still have no access to their old premises. Some businesses lost a lifetime of data. Could you or your business survive such a disaster?

After the Wellington quake I was at home within the hour working from my laptop, in the cloud. Which if I had wanted a cheeky afternoon off was a bad thing. I was still keen to work though, just not in a very tall building when aftershocks were expected. So I was glad we are a very cloud based business. We only really have an office because we like talking with each other. Half of the company works remotely from a number of places around the globe. Our business structure ensures TourWriter will remain operational no matter the disaster. Have you considered moving your data storage to the cloud?

Once back at TourWriter HQ we had a quake debrief. Our infrastructure was good, how about the people?

After laughing at our hiding under the desk moment (Ed note: the quake struck during a team meeting, so we all dived under the same desk. A bit of a squash and a squeeze) and rejoicing in our survival it was decided we could be better prepared for next time. Key points we identified were the not so orderly evacuation and that we weren’t prepared for an overnight stay if we couldn’t evacuate.

newspapper weather update

Dominion Post weather update says what we are all thinking.

During the quake debrief we realised we didn’t have an evacuation strategy. We have since created an office phone tree and check list so no one gets left behind. We have purchased survival blankets and staff have signed up for First Aid training. I guess you could call this disaster planning.  It is about identifying potential hazards and working out ways to best cope through staff training, preparing emergency supplies and preparing communication systems. Google search ‘disaster planning’ for advice. It’s what we did and I think we are now better prepared to look after each other in an emergency.

What happens in the weeks that follow a major quake though? Identify your assets then plan to protect these assets and ensure access post earthquake, flood, volcano…. If your business is reliant on physical infrastructure it is about creating contingencies to ensure if the worst was to happen, your business, your clients and your employees can move forward from a disaster. Tour Operators don’t generally rely on a building to operate, however they do need the data in a building. Ensuring your itineraries, quotes, supplier and client records are backed up in multiple locations is the only way to ensure business continuity.

For those Tour Operators interested in having access to their business outside the office using software designed specifically for your business, TourWriter can help. As well as saving you a fortune in system efficiencies we can host your data with a dedicated Amazon server. With internet access you can continue working from any computer with the TourWriter application installed.

If you haven’t already ask me for a Free Trial. Your TourWriter trial database is a chance to trial cloud hosting for yourself.

And I would love to hear about your top tips for disaster preparedness so add a comment below. You can never be too prepared.

NB. Earthquake image courtesy NZHerald

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