Barrhead Travel has a well-developed disaster recovery plan that is followed when a supplier fails or an ash cloud strikes.

Nichola O’Brien, one of the managers who leads Barrhead’s Crisis Management Team (CMT), describes how the plan unfolds.

Hours 1-3

Communication is key from the first moment we hear of an event that threatens to disrupt the running of the business.

All available information is gathered, managers are briefed and the information is cascaded to their teams.

Our IT department sets up a separate section on our company intranet with all the latest updates.

Reports identify affected passenger numbers – both overseas and those yet to travel – and these determine how many staff are needed for the CMT in our Glasgow Oswald Street call centre.

Our public websites are updated regularly, and a helpline number and email address is put in place for customers.

The branches deal with customers affected in person, but for speed and efficiency, all crisis calls are transferred to the CMT.

Hours 3-12

We’re in full flow now, and the calls are coming in thick and fast.

Team managers help the CMT with any sticky situations, making decisions on the spot.

The intranet and websites are updated with new information, and managers brief their teams on significant developments.

Our Glasgow airport branch is on the frontline, as our own customers, other agents’ customers and the supplier’s customers besiege the desks, looking for information and assistance.

24 hours

Motivation is important as time passes and adrenaline starts to flag, so we make sure the CMT is fed and watered with pizza and soft drinks!

Days can be long and stressful, so we’ll get a masseuse in to give back and neck massages.

We also hold team energisers throughout each day, giving the team a break from calls and the chance to win prizes.

If necessary, we will draft in more staff to help clear the lists.

CAA claim forms are despatched to customers.

48 Hours

Depending on the extent of the crisis, we continue in this vein until the last customer has been spoken to.

1 week+

Our admin team now collate and process returned CAA claim forms.

Depending on the volume of claims, the time taken for the CAA to process them can vary from weeks to months.

As call volumes decrease, the overall situation is assessed, and once the calls become intermittent, the CMT stand down – until the next time.


Nichola O Advice from Nichola O’Brien, manager of crisis management team at Barrhead Travel