Silent travelers can be found in every organization’s travel program. How are you listening?
By: George Kalka, Sr. Director, Global Sales
Silent travelers certainly present more challenges to hear. Often they are technology-forward, self-sufficient employees who are less likely to communicate through traditional channels. And with the increasing numbers of Generation X and Millennials in the workforce, the silent traveler population is growing. In fact, multiple studies indicate Millennials will represent 50% of all business travelers by 2020.Travel programs investing in listening to the silent traveler today will have the foundation to engage this traveler base in the future.
You may be asking, what exactly is a silent traveler? They book travel online, check-in for their flight using a mobile device, bypass the car rental desk heading straight for their assigned car, and in many hotels use a kiosk to receive their room key. Basically, they rarely depend on human interaction while traveling.
Similar to how they travel, silent travelers don’t share their experiences – or displeasures – through traditional methods such as email, phone, or a live communication. Silent travelers take to social media to post, tweet, or snap a photo of their travel experience. This will only increase as Millennials choose social media for customer-service interactions. Travel suppliers are investing in social media communication, engaging with travelers while they are still in a hotel for example, or even in-flight. Problems are resolved before the traveler’s experience with the supplier is over. When this happens, a silent traveler is far less likely to report back through a formal communication to the travel program. From their perspective, the issue is considered resolved.
“Listening” to this live, instant interaction will reveal where your organization’s travel program and suppliers both delight and disappoint. Establishing a formal travel program presence on sites like Twitter and Instagram, or simply “following” your organization’s travelers on social media, will deliver new intelligence to help shape your travel policy or negotiation of preferred suppliers, among other benefits.
As a first step to connect with silent travelers, Fox developed a proprietary “Traveler Voice” system for a business travel customer that wanted to engage travelers beyond traditional channels. This mobile-optimized custom technology created by Fox allows travelers to post questions and feedback in a live environment. The result: the organization’s travel administration directly communicates with travelers while keeping the conversation within their portal rather than on public sites. And as an added bonus, the discussions can be open to all travelers so everyone can benefit from the exchanges on the site.
While formal channels will continue to deliver useful information, silent interactions reveal additional insights that must be considered when shaping a travel program. How are you listening? Share your thoughts with us.