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The blackout of '03 took many hoteliers in the northeastern United States and Canada largely by surprise. Hotel managers found themselves scrambling to serve guests overnight in darkened hotels, many of which did not have running water, let alone expected amenities. Despite the challenges, hoteliers responding to a postblackout survey reported that their staff members were up to the task of providing hospitality for guests—often by devising creative processes for check-in and checkout, food service, and the like. For their part, guests were mostly understanding about the power failure and appreciated hotel employees' efforts on their behalf. However, guests were surprised that hotels often did not have backup power to maintain critical systems after emergency power failed. Service quality and the guest experience typically suffered at those hotels that lost power and were ill prepared to deal with disruptions in the service system. This article examines these problems and provides insights for how to safeguard service when the unexpected happens.


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