We caught up with Intercruises Health & Safety Manager Robert Doma, who gives us an update us on the very latest developments from the department.

What was Intercruises main focus for Health and Safety in 2017?

We faced quite a lot of challenges following the acquisiton with HBG, as many of our H&S processes were based on TUI’s policies and procedures.

One of the most challenging tasks that we had was to replace the Risk Console and implement our own procedures that more tailored to the needs of Intercruises. Therefore, the main focus for Health & Safety last year was on the development and implementation of CRIM. CRIM is our new in-house incident management tool which was introduced to the entire Hotelbeds Group last year. We played a key part in the development of the tool and were responsible for the implementation and training for the whole DM. We used our online training tool (IELP – Intercruises eLearning Platform) to reach over 550 trainees worldwide.

Our second main goal last year was to develop and begin implementing our Crisis Management plan, which we plan to finalize in 2018. Our first objective was to create the plan itself; then we needed to identify the different levels and roles that would be necessary, and later developed trainings for each of the roles. We trained 167 Incident Coordinators worldwide through GoToMeeting. Moreover, we conducted three table-top exercises (in UK, France and US), and hope to do more in the near future.

Thirdly – as both Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean have a strong focus on disability – we developed training materials on Disability Awareness and Assisting Guests in Wheelchairs (these are both available on IELP on demand), and later became accredited wheelchair pushing trainers in Spain. We reviewed the ADA & EU regulations and aligned our training material with the cruise lines’ requirements.

Accidents will always occur, but it is important to find ways to minimize the probability of them happening to us. To learn from our mistakes, we started to create “lessons learned” documents by analyzing different crisis situations to see what we could learn from them. The most recent one is the bus crash accident in Mexico (which we were not involved with), which is a clear example of how important it is to conduct risk assessments in order to reduce the possibility of an accident.  We conducted a webinar on February 21st on this topic. Please let me know if you were not involved but would like access to the information.

What are the focuses for 2018 and what are our priorities?

Crisis Management:
This year, our main priority is to finalize the implementation of our Crisis Management Plan worldwide for the three brands. We are currently focusing on rolling out the basic Crisis Management Plan, as well as the release of our Major Accident and Emergency Helpline. Our organization is complex and this complexity can cause breakdowns in the transfer of information. One of the hidden effects of organizational complexity is that it blurs the lines of responsibility. With the help of this helpline, we will enable a quick transfer of information and implement a clear protocol on the assignment for the Incident Coordinator, which is the most important step of an effective crisis response operation.

Being aware of potential problems at the early stages of the process contributes to:

  1. Having more options to deal with the situation
  2. Responding with a lower level of intervention
  3. Making it is safer from a personal and organizational perspective

We have started to focus/concentrate on security and have already created a series of security-awareness articles over the last seven months:

Health & Safety Update: Vehicular Terrorism

Security is EVERYONE’S responsibility

Ultimately, we want to add value to our products by helping the different departments. We can help the Sales Department by improving the already-existing processes with new protocols and organizing them into a clearly defined management system in order to gain competitive advantages over our competitors. The Contracting Department can benefit from our advice when choosing the right suppliers, making sure that we fulfill the obligations agreed in the contracts with our clients. We can support the Operations Department by implementing security-related procedures, making sure that our staff knows what to do and stays safe, ultimately giving better service to the final users of our services.

Education and Training:
H&S and security awareness should be an integral part of every aspect of the organization’s operations. It’s clear that the Intercruises’ H&S department has a role to play in developing both the appropriate corporate culture, as well as specific skills and capabilities. It is the H&S Manager´s responsibility to ensure that everyone within the organization is aware of their role, how they can contribute to general organizational safety, and what specific steps should be taken in the event that potential threats are detected or actual incidents occur.

Care Team:
This year we are going to put our efforts in revitalizing our Care Team services. In March 2018, Rosa Planas will attend the 2018 Europe Air, Land, & Sea Workshop + HSR™ Training in London, where they will discuss, amongst others, the Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting case and the survivors or the Tunis Bardo Museum Attack, highlighting the unique and positive influence that company Care Team/Special Assistance Team members have on the long-term healing of survivors and family members.

Can we expect to see any big changes this year?

We try to embed and strengthen our H&S culture further into the compan’s culture. The biggest change we’ve seen is that H&S and security is becoming more and more important. We have clear examples where we can see that H&S and security play key factors when a client chooses their suppliers.

If we look back at last year’s events, we can see that a lot of them happened right on our doorstep: Fort Lauderdale shooting, Marseille, Nice or Barcelona, just to name a few. There was also an unfortunate accident (in which we weren’t involved) in Mexico where 12 people died in a bus accident. I´m sure cruise lines will go harder and harder on risk assessment, H&S and security. We all know that dealing with risks and incidents is an inherent part of doing international business, but facing a crisis is a different story. Lives will be in danger, together with the reputation or even the existence of our organization. We have to be as ready as we can be, by preparing our protocols, crisis team members, infrastructure and leaders.

How are our efforts towards Health and Safety in comparison to others in the industry?

I have been to ABTA seminars, participated in the preparation of one of the conferences for ITCMS. Besides learning new things, participating in those events and being able to talk and to listen to others gives us the opportunity to see where we stand when comparing to others. I can say that Intercruises is quite advanced compared to others in the travel industry. It’s not perfect but we have all the tools available and just need to use them in order to gain advantage over our competitors. Accidents, such as the one that recently happened in Mexico, can be used as an opportunity to proactively offer solutions for cruise lines.

What are the main challenges we face this year, and how are we planning to overcome them?

Each year, accidents are always going to be a challenge due to the industry we are in. Some may be severe, and others not so, yet their unpredictability leaves us with very little to do in order to avoid them. This is why it is paramount that we have a Safety Management System firmly in place  – one which we continue to develop and update as often as possible.

The H&S Department recently attended the UK Security Expo in London – an event that focuses on the very latest developments in global security. By attending events such as this one, we can ensure to stay on top of our game when it comes to modern day security practice, to combat modern threats such as terrorism and cyber attakcs. This knowledge is absolutely crucial if we want to maintain best practice within our industry.

Anything else to add?

I would just like to stress the importance of reporting incidents timely through CRIM in order to respond to them immediately and correctly.

Should anybody from any team require any information or materials from any of the events or topics mentioned above, don’t hesitate to email me.