When Expedia announced its “Upgrade Options” display this week, it was no coincidence that Delta was named as its sole U.S. airline partner.
The partnership builds on Delta’s customer-driven approach, offering a full description of the flight experience passengers are buying. Expedia’s new display lists fees for checking bags or canceling a reservation, as well as the perks of a particular fare. Delta provided all of the product, fare and cost information.
The move, which attracted media attention, signifies the latest step in Delta’s effort to consistently give customers the information they need to make educated choices about the kind of onboard experience they want, whether buying through delta.com, traditional or online travel agencies.
“By partnering with online travel agencies, Delta is giving our customers more control in the type of travel experience they’d like to have on Delta versus simply choosing the lowest available fare,” Chris Phillips, Managing Director – Distribution, said.
Having made progress through a steady stream of onboard investments and upgrades, Delta announced a range of flying experiences for its customers in 2012.
Today, those offerings include Delta One, First Class, Delta Comfort+, Main Cabin and Basic Economy. They provide customers with a variety of options — from perk-packed to essentially just the seat — all with the common denominator of Delta’s unmatched operational reliability and customer service.
Simultaneously, the airline was working to make the choices and prices transparent to customers not just on delta.com, but anywhere the customer chooses to shop for Delta flights. That’s when Delta decided to team up with online and other travel agencies to ensure all customers would have a transparent view of options when booking Delta flights.
Historically, both traditional and online travel agencies relied on commoditized shopping displays that differentiate airline carriers only by logo and price.
In addition to its partnership with Expedia, Delta had previously worked with Orbitz to enable a display providing a more retail shopping experience. The Orbitz partnership was the first step in providing customers the same level of choice, control and transparency that Delta customers have on delta.com.
“When we started clearly showing our customers on delta.com their options for booking First Class, Delta Comfort+, Main Cabin and Basic Economy, the overall reaction was very positive.
“We found that, given a clear choice, customers often choose to buy the full experience versus just the lowest available fare. The natural next step was to take this best-in-class online shopping experience to all of our distribution channels, including the online travel agencies.”
The numbers back up Phillips’ comments on consumers’ reaction to the changes. Delta President Ed Bastian noted in last week’s earnings call with investors that Delta Comfort+ sales are up 42 percent and more customers are choosing First Class.