Sadly Las Vegas is the latest in a long line of destinations that have suffered tragedies at the hand of Man. In recent times we have experienced the horror of attacks in Brussels, Madrid, Paris, London, Manchester and Barcelona.
How do you respond when a client asks you whether or not a destination is safe?
Shortly after an event you could say that that particular destination is perhaps safer than anywhere because security will be heightened with a greater police presence. And yet we know that sometimes tragedy can strike twice (or more) in one destination.
It is understandable that the public should look to you, as a professional, for guidance but, of course, you cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. The fact is that no one, apart from the perpetrators themselves, can say where terrorists or mass killers will strike next.
So what guidance can you give?
The sad fact is that terrorism and other heinous crimes have become an unfortunate fact of life and a risk about which everyone must make their own judgement. Every day we all of us are assessing risks: we are running our own mini risk assessments inside our heads. From crossing a busy street to posting a picture on Instagram, we assess the likely outcomes of our actions and assess the risk of a negative outcome. If the risk of harm is minimal we take action, if the risk is higher than we are prepared to accept we take no action or we take alternative action. And everyone’s attitude to risk is unique to them and to each situation.
Knowledge is king
As with most things, knowledge is king. The more you and your clients know about a destination the easier it is to make an informed decision. You will have built up your own body of knowledge, whether from your own experiences or from training courses, and this you can pass on to your clients.
The best source of information available to you and your clients is of course the government’s FCO website. The UK Government is going to be as well informed as anyone about the dangers in any particular destination.
Although neither of these things will give your client’s a definitive answer to their question ‘is it safe?’, they will give them more information to help them make up their own minds, to make their own risk assessment.
In our everyday lives, having made our mini risk assessment and taken action, we are constantly looking for feedback: “have we made the right decision?”, “is the situation changing?”.
The same should be true when on holiday but of course we all know (often from personal experience) that once we have boarded that holiday flight our brains often disengage until we arrive back home again. The fact is though that, like it or not, in order to stay safe we must be constantly on our guard: we need to protect ourselves from anything from petty theft to a terrorist threat. There is of course no guarantee that vigilance will save us but it will certainly help stack the odds in our favour.
Stay calm. Be professional
In summary, in our opinion, you should not feel the need to make a decision on behalf of your client. You can empathise and show understanding of their predicament. You can provide them with facts rather than opinion and you can direct them to the FCO website but ultimately the decision must be theirs
What do you think? How are you dealing with client’s concerns about travelling in these troubled times?