Op Ed: George Kalka On Why You Need To Hear The Silent Traveler

Fox World Travel’s George Kalka highlights why corporate travel programs may need to refresh the ways they gather input from travelers.


Silent travelers can be found in every organization’s travel program. How are you listening?

These travelers are our most challenging travelers to hear. Often, they are technology-forward, self-sufficient employees who are less likely to communicate through traditional channels. With Generation X and Millennials representing the majority of today’s workforce, the silent traveler population has significantly grown.

Travel programs that invest in listening to the silent traveler today will have the foundation to engage them for years to come, as well as the first Generation Z’s now beginning their careers. In an era of health- and safety-conscious travel, keeping a pulse on traveler sentiment has arguably never been more important.

A silent traveler typically books travel digitally, checks-in for their flight using a mobile device, bypasses the car rental desk to head straight for their assigned car and, in many hotels, uses a kiosk to receive their room key. They rarely depend on human interaction while traveling.

Fox World Travel VP of business travel George Kalka

Similar to how they travel, silent travelers won’t always share their experiences or sentiments through traditional methods such as email, phone or live communication. Silent travelers take to social media to post, tweet or share photos of their travel experiences; this content isn’t the same as direct feedback. The behavior will only increase as next-generation workforces turn more to social media for customer-service interactions.

Travel suppliers are investing in real-time and sometimes scheduled social and text communication for travelers. Engaging in the midst of travel, such as inflight or while still in a hotel, provides convenient and time-relevant space for travelers to express their sentiments. This on-demand engagement provides travel suppliers the opportunity to make it right before the experience has ended. If a problem is resolved during the trip, it reduces the likelihood of a traveler sharing a poor experience on social media and mitigates reputational risk.

“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 platforms like Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, or simply following your road warriors on social media, will deliver new intelligence to help shape your travel policy and inform negotiations with preferred suppliers.

Net Promotor Score can engage travelers beyond traditional channels. “Would you recommend your travel program?” Frequent and consistent application of this request for feedback provides an easy and timely opportunity for even the most silent travelers to provide their feedback. The result of this real-time traveler feedback offers an opportunity to provide immediate service recovery to travelers when needed and gather customer insights to improve the traveler journey. 

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.


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Author: George Kalka

George has over 20 years of experience in hospitality and travel, serving in regional, national and executive roles. His accomplishments in strategic planning, business development, client relations and associate engagement support growth and service delivery initiatives at Fox World Travel. George has earned GBTA's Global Leadership Professional designation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia Darden School of Business. He was a founding member of the GBTA payment solutions committee and is a former GBTA chapter board member. As VP of business travel, George oversees Fox’s business travel operations, client solutions and global sales teams. Find George on LinkedIn.
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