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Disaster Recovery

08 февраля 2016

By HRG Business Manager

HRG Australia was approached by a public sector client to deal with the travel requirements of key personnel during the flooding in January 2011, the flooding covered an area twice the size of the UK.

Our team’s objective was to manage the movement of all relief staff who would restore essential services to communities across the affected region. The first step was to hold a meeting with the client to assess what was needed in terms of group travel to support the relief effort and excess baggage requirements for the transport of equipment.

Simultaneously, the HRG Brisbane office had to deal with being evacuated, initiate a disaster recovery plan and handover existing and future travel requests to other offices in Australia. Within 24 hours of the flood waters subsiding HRG Australia manage to deploy 40% of its clients workforce to other states. We also took over conference rooms in unaffected hotels to create satellite offices to handle client travel requests.

Our next step was to ramp up our Emergency After Hours Travel Service in anticipation of increased demand and with the help of colleagues in the UK and Victoria, we coordinated a truly global response.

One of the greatest challenges over the period was dealing with the high volume of non-GDS activity which meant ongoing telephone contact with suppliers. The scale of the flooding also impacted telecommunications networks meaning slow internet response times and at times we had to switch to manual processes.

It was as we continued our work with our client in the aftermath of the flooding, that Cyclone Yasi threatened to hit the Cairns area.

The clients health department engaged our support to accommodate 100 outpatients from the Cairns Base Hospital and transport them to Brisbane for treatment using military aircraft and commercial charters.

We called on one of our global hotel partners to provide accommodation for 70% of the patients at its property in Brisbane and dealt with all logistical arrangements such as food and beverage including specific dietary requirements, hospital transfers, central meeting points and communication channels for both patients and our clients’ health staff.

We are proud of our team’s efficient handling of the operation and the tangible saving of approximately £130,000 we achieved for the client by direct negotiations with suppliers.

As HRG Australia completed work with the clients’ health team, our client called on us once again to manage overall travel requirements for the cyclone relief effort. We set up a travel unit and helped prioritise which personnel needed to travel in order to restore essential services.

We then turned our attention to accommodation and adequate food and beverage for the 4,000 staff in the affected area. We decided to use hotels in Cairns and arrange a daily pick-up and drop-off service for the one-and-a-half-hour journey between the hotels and the cyclone hit region.

Since the natural disasters we have been working on a Major Incident Travel Management Plan with our client which will include the processes to be followed in the event of future crises. The plan involves using our most experienced people, includes agreed processes, contact details for key suppliers and a detailed communication strategy. We are also looking at potential automated solutions for recording air and accommodation manifests, how we can best deploy HRG staff in the event of future crises and improvements to the reconciliation process for payments to emergency accommodation, food and beverage and transport suppliers.

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