Iceland volcano erupts for the first time in 900 years sending molten lava spewing into the skies as a red glow is seen for miles and flights are banned

This headline appeared on international news channels last week. In my position as CEO of a crisis management company all awareness sensors immediately sprung to attention. Confident that the A3M team and technology would perform accordingly and manage the potential crisis, my thoughts drifted to a meeting held in Berlin almost eleven years previously to the day.

Back then in 2010 and in the early days of A3M my main task was to convince the travel industry establishment of the necessity of a “around the clock crisis management system” A system which would allow tour operators real-time access to global crisis information. A system which would automatically compute scale, relevance, potential impact etc. of a crisis and advise the tour operator on a suitable course of action, a duty of care.

I had just assumed ownership of A3M, a company who specialized in tsunami early warning systems with the ambition to develop a best of breed 24*7*365 crisis management system for the German leisure travel industry. Determined to be a market leader, maybe even set an industry standard.

One must remember eleven years ago the terms holidays and crisis management by nature repelled. Whilst consumers are planning the well-earned “trip of the year” any reminder of potential disruptance was counterproductive and detrimental to the sales process. This of course was 2010 and to associate crisis management with cooperate brand value was yet a distant cry.

That was my pitch and I was very aware of the impending uphill battle. 

It was March 20th, 2010; I was invited to Berlin to present my project to the management team of the DRV, the German travel industry association. To my advantage and due to previous projects I enjoyed a certain reputation and dare I say vision in the field of travel technology. Hence my audience was curious and due to the subject matter a little apprehensive. Half way into my presentation the door opened and to the astonishment of the gathered it was announced that the north Atlantic airspace had just been closed, this due to a dust cloud. Enter Eyjafjallajökull.

What followed was weeks of confusion, stranded passengers, grounded flights, transcontinental car rentals etc. Tour operators and charter airline aligned in a common effort, a true sign of industry solidarity. What also followed was the recognition that in times of crisis a coordinated approach and crisis management is essential. A3M won industry support and developed Global-Monitoring, today the standard crisis management system in the German travel industry.

Then, should an Icelandic  volcano erupts after 900 years of being dormant sending molten lava spewing into the skies and flights are canceled, the travel industry today is better prepared. Fully automated processes inform tour-operators, airlines, passengers and ancillary services alike. By way of Apps, essential information available at your fingertips, file-keys evolve into QR-Codes. Current crisis information as a utility. 

A3M will strive to develop state of the art software for crisis management.  We continuously expand the impact of Global Monitoring in the crisis management value chain and are today equally represented in both – leisure and business travel market place throughout Europe.

In A3M folklore, Eyjafjallajökull, The day the penny dropped.

Take care, stay healthy and a very Happy Easter.

Tom Dillon