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Disaster Preparation Basics

By Lauren Searcy

Hindsight is 20/20. But when disaster strikes, you don’t want that to be your motto. Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Now is the time to get your business prepared. Having a plan will help save you time, money and could help position your business after a disastrous event. Knowing the basics will help you plan out the rest.

EOC Basics:
Disaster recovery happens in three phases. First, local response teams step in, state aid is sent in as needed, and national aid comes in as a last resort. Your county or area Emergency Operations Center (EOC) should be your initial contact as to what is happening prior to, during, and after a storm.  County EOCs are comprised of law enforcement agencies, firefighters, paramedics, weather experts, area business leaders, and local elected officials. They will be able to let you know when you need to close down your business for evacuation and how soon you will be able to reopen. It’s a good idea to go ahead and have a contact readily available in case you need other services, like a tree removed from your building or a gas leak contained. Your local EOC will also be able to help you with that. State Emergency Operations Centers can assist you in creating a plan for your business. You can now store files, numbers, and information on their database. has a myriad of information on how to create a plan, important contacts, and links to every county EOC website. National relief only comes in if state and local efforts are overwhelmed, as was the case in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

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Florida Residents Travel Deal: 25% Off Orlando's Newest Resort

With summer travel fast approaching, many Florida residents will be heading to Orlando, one of this year’s hottest travel destinations that recently topped the Hotwire 2012 travel value index study for best U.S. value destinations. The new Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek ( is welcoming Florida residents with an exclusive resident’s rate of 25% off, making the starting rate for resident’s $105!

A few of the resorts most interesting attributes include:

  • deep blu seafood grille84 bunk rooms (complete with an alcove for tiny travelers with twin bunk beds and an extra sink in the bathroom at children’s height)
  • Three signature gourmet dining facilities with deep blu seafood grille (, offering gourmet dining of sustainable fusion fare for resort guests and park goers alike, recently named an OpenTable Orlando Diner’s Choice Winner
  • Creative activities that engage and involve all family members and ages including resort wide scavenger hunts, poolside blackjack tournaments, and the Wyndham Grand Kids Club
  • Zero-entry, lagoon-style pool and adjacent pool complete with a pirate ship waterslide
  • Stunning, full-service Blue Harmony Spa with products and treatments infused with filtered sea water
  • Located within the Disney complex in beautiful Bonnet Creek

In Customer Service Consulting, Disney’s Small World Is Growing

By Brook Barnes, The New York Times

Maryland teachers were instructed to engage children by crouching and speaking to them at eye level. Chevrolet dealers were taught to think in theater metaphors: onstage, where smiles greet potential buyers, and offstage, where sales representatives can take out-of-sight cigarette breaks.

Responding to advice from the Disney Institute, a Florida Hospital campus in Orlando hired a ukulele-playing greeter. A Florida children’s hospital was advised to welcome patients in an entertaining way, prompting it to employ a ukulele-playing greeter dressed in safari gear.

These personal service tips came from the Disney Institute, the low-profile consulting division of the Walt Disney Company. Desperate for new ways to connect with consumers, an increasing array of industries and organizations are paying Disney to teach them how to become, well, more like Disney.

Revenue from the Disney Institute has doubled over the last three years, according to Disney, powered in part by its aggressive pursuit of new business. Over the last two years alone, 300 school systems across the country have sought its advice.

Other clients range from very large entities — Häagen-Dazs International, United Airlines, the country of South Africa — to small ones: three Subway restaurants in Maine, a Michigan hair salon, a Boston youth-counseling center.

The Disney Institute recently hired a network of field representatives to sign up clients and started dispatching its executives to companies wanting help; before that, advice-seekers traveled to Walt Disney World here or Disneyland in California.

“We’re putting our people on planes all day every day, domestically and internationally,” said Jeff James, who runs Disney’s consulting branch. “Some clients are in great shape and want to improve even further, and some are truly clueless.”

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Hotels Generating More Revenue per Room for Remainder of 2012

Meetings and Conventions Driving Increases in Occupancy

Revenue per available room (RevPar) for hotels nationwide is tracking ahead 7.9 percent, based on 2012 reservations on the books compared to a year ago.  This is the highest increase in more than six months, according to data from TravelClick’s March 2012 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR).  The March NAHR looks at group sales and individual reservations for hotel stays that are booked by March 2012 for the calendar year (January 2012-December 2012).

Key highlights from the report:

  • RevPar across all segments is up 7.9% (the largest increase in six months)
  • Group business is driving occupancy (this is not only a good thing for the hospitality sector but good for overall business as this represents meetings & conventions)
  • The second quarter at this point looks strong

Florida markets performing above average in terms of occupancy (03/12 – 02/13 vs 03/11 – 02/12) include:

  • Tampa: +10.5%
  • Miami: +6.5%
  • Orlando: +7.8%

Average Daily Rate (03/12 – 02/13 vs 03/11 – 02/12)

  • Tampa: +6.0%
  • Miami: +6.1%
  • Orlando: +5.6%

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Pool/Spa ADA Compliance Date Now May 15

Towards the end of the 2012 Legislative Session, FRLA senior staff and board members attended the AH&LA Legislative Action Summit in Washington, DC to become familiar with pressing issues facing the lodging industry on a national level.  During this trip they visited elected officials to discuss the necessity of extending the timeline for compliance with ADA requirements regarding pool lifts in Florida’s lodging establishments.  The meetings were very successful, and eight members of the United States Senate wrote to the U. S. Department of Justice to request the extension.

As a result of FRLA efforts and those of the AH&LA,  a 60-day extension for compliance with the pool lift requirement was extended.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with a 15-day comment period for a potential 6-month extension “…in order to allow additional time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance with these ADA requirements….”