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WTTC’s Global Summit: Crisis Management Panel Recap

Kenyon CEO Robert A. Jensen reflected on what he shared with those who attended the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2017 Global Summit in his article Which Leader are You?. The panel he keynoted held more information, however, and we wanted to elaborate on its key takeaways.

The panel, appropriately titled “Shock Waves – resilience through crisis,” explored how organizations could weather a crisis. Jensen, alongside Thomas Cook Group’s Peter Fankhauser, Indian Hotels Company’s Rakesh Sarna and AIG Travel’s Jeffrey C. Rutledge, shared firsthand experiences in handling crises and the lessons they learned from them.

The Takeaways

Be prepared.


“You can mitigate the risk for your business by preparing the organization.” – Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook Group

Focusing on the broad approach leads you to exhausting critical resources and time on crisis prevention, when crisis prevention just is not possible. You cannot prevent attacks or natural disasters. What you can do is ensure your company is prepared through crisis management planning. When planning, your focus should be on managing the response and the consequences of a crisis and not on the prevention of one.

Respond quickly.

This is where many organizations fail. Human beings are creatures of habit and routine. We take the same daily paths and when something like a bombing or accident disrupts those paths, chaos ensues. Your crisis management plans are the systems that bridge the disconnected pieces of an affected person’s once-perfect path. The quicker and more efficient your response, the quicker you help those affected transition from what was normal to their new normal. A poor response carries a long-term impact on your organization – most especially on the people connected to the crisis.

Tell the truth.

“The most important thing in my mind is to be kind.” – Rakesh Sarna, Indian Hotels Group

Following a crisis, the victims, their families and, if a crisis is large enough, the public, are in shock. They need reassurance and that comes from you, a credible source, who should supply them with transparent and easily understood information. Reassurance comes from you saying “I’m sorry,” and as intimidating as that may be, companies tend to face less litigation from families post-crisis when sincere apologies are made mid-crisis.

Success is found in understanding the needs of the people. At the end of the day, it is about the people: about their culture, about their beliefs, about their needs. It doesn’t come from panic or from a company denying their fault in the crisis. Accept the inevitable and focus on leading those affected by the crisis forward. Access the session recordings at the {2017 WTTC Global Summit website}.