Delta Airlines: Is This Spin, Good Marketing, Or Both?
If you’re an occasional Delta Airlines customer, you’re going to find it harder to reach “Medallion” frequent flier status in 2016. If you’re a frequent Delta Airlines customer, you may find it difficult to retain the status you’ve already earned.
Delta Airlines announced big changes to its 2016 frequent flier policy late last week which, in aggregate, reduces benefits to customers. In one article, The St. Cloud Times characterized the changes rather negatively as, “New Delta Policy Further Squeezes Economy Travelers.”
Delta sent an email to customers late last week to announce the change and help control the message. The manner in which they did so caught my eye; here’s the email I received:
Delta had two options: They could have written a letter to customers defending and justifying their new policy (economic realities in the airline industry necessitated the change, blah blah…) or spun it as a positive.
They chose the second option. They wrapped their announcement, which would widely be seen as a negative (it’s tougher for me to accrue points!) and presented it as a positive (our frequent fliers deserve to receive exclusive treatment).
Their email continued:
I saw right through this PR approach immediately, but I’m not sure I disagree with it. They wrapped the changes around a virtue—our best customers deserve the most exclusive service—and I suspect their best customers will appreciate being prioritized even more.
It’s a fine line between spin and straightforward communication, and the lines are often blurry. Some of this blog’s readers might view this PR approach as spin that intentionally buries the lead and ignores the bad news. And I’m not sure I find the memo entirely credible (when they write, “That’s why we’re adjusting the 2016 Medallion Qualification Dollars thresholds,” I’m skeptical—I suspect the changes were simply the result of a strategic business decision).
But in the end, I’m with the Delta PR team on this one. I support their approach of using exclusivity as the mechanism to announce these changes, and believe they made the most of a tough announcement.
But that’s just my view. What do you think?