Service failures as organisational crises in business travel: origins and operational strategies as perceived by events professionals
Abstract Justified purpose of the topic: Research on crisis management in the meetings industry only focused on the process of crisis preparedness and the perception of meeting planners towards crises, with little research carried out on the strategies adopted to manage crisis within the meetings industry. Objective: This paper explores crisis management perceptions and practices by meetings professionals from two perspectives: origins of crisis and crisis management strategies. Methodology: The study adopted an exploratory perspective through interviewing 11 Turkish meeting planners who were asked to revisit past crisis experiences through the critical incident technique. Results: Meetings were shown to be highly prone to smaller scale, operational crisis in particular. Therefore, to meeting planners crises are more about service failures than major disruptive events that question the organisation’s existence as per the traditional definition of crisis. Crises are classified using a matrix that considers the source of the crisis (internal/external) and the degree of control (controllable/non-controllable). Meeting planners tend to attribute crises events to others than themselves and perceive them as mostly uncontrollable, related third party suppliers (including venues/hotels) and clients. Crisis management strategies employed in each of the four phases of crisis (prevention/preparation, coping, recovery and learning) were carried out at an individual level, with little formalisation at the organisational level evident. Negative perceptions about the need for formalisation were reflected in the rejection of developing crisis management plans. Originality: This paper contributes to the literature by demonstrating that crisis management frameworks can be employed to examine crises that are essentially service failures. As a consequence, the distinction between the notions of service failure and crisis may be artificial rather than real. Therefore, researchers planning studies on crises-service failure should consider looking at both literatures in order to integrate both bodies of knowledge.