Robert Jensen CEO Kenyon International Emergency Services: Global Tourism’s Master of Disaster
Kenyon International Emergency Services has been in the tourism risk and crisis management business longer than any other private company. Their history stretches back to 1906 when Kenyon funeral directors were charged with dealing with the remains of victims of an American train crash. The director of the undertaker company saw an opportunity to provide a service which would cover every aspect of a disaster from risk management to managing all aspects of a crisis. This includes stakeholder and media communications, rescue, relief, family counselling, legal affairs and managing the remains and the personal effects of victims.
Today Kenyon services over 500 travel related clients including most of the world’s leading airlines, tour operators and hotel chains. In 2002 IATA outsourced its crisis communications unit to Kenyon. During the WTTC‘s Global Travel Summit I caught up with Kenyon’s CEO, Robert Jensen. At first sight, Robert reminded me of Kevin Costner who famously starred in the hit movie The Bodyguard. In common with the bodyguard character, Mr Jensen radiates a sense of calm and control in the face of the most chaotic and bloody events. His own experience include managing crises ranging from an earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, plane crashes, the Indian Ocean tsunami and a list of crises which have impacted on travellers and tourism.
Mr Jensen gave one of the most thought provoking keynote speeches at the WTTC’s Global Summit in Bangkok least week. In that address and his interview with me he stressed the importance of expressing genuine empathy with victims of a crisis and the management and staff of companies going though it. CEO’s had to show genuine care when a crisis arises because the buck stops with them. When a crisis event occurs there is no room, for lies and obfuscation. The public may forgive a mistake but they will never forgive cover ups and corporate doublespeak. The management of a crisis event can either enhance or destroy business reputations.
Kenyon‘s comprehensive services range from dealing with corpses and body parts of deceased victims to piecing together destroyed aircraft following a crash, assisting clients with crisis communications, running risk management drills. Robert Jensen‘s greatest wish is that his company’s services will never be needed but in 2017 he is on regular call and can turn up in any corner of the world.
For a company which has over 500 corporate clients Kenyon operates a very lean management structure. The core team is made up of 26 full-time management and staff. Kenyon has four main office and depot locations which include staff and associated equipment in Texas, UK, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic.However their global network of associated individuals and companies means that in a major crisis event. Kenyon can mobilize hundreds of people at any place in the world.
An e poll conducted at last week’s The summit revealed that over 70% of major travel industry CEOs regard themselves as under-prepared to manage a crisis event. While most tourism professionals are well aware that risk management is an important part of doing business there is still a big gulf between the intention to act and putting good intentions into action.
For more information please CLICK HERE