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Delta Air Lines will roll out a new facet of its Delta Edge
program on Aug. 1. Called Delta Edge Meetings, the program will allow corporate
clients both to associate meetings spend with their overall transient spend as
part of their total volume and to isolate meetings spend from transient travel
spend within Delta Edge reporting. This makes it easier for client corporations
to calculate the impact of Delta air travel costs on the value of their
meetings. Beyond reporting, Delta Edge Meetings will ensure Delta Edge corporate
benefits like priority boarding and preferred seating and other inclusions extend
to meeting travelers.
"Since our merger with Northwest Airlines, we've had a
very large department that deals directly with meetings: association,
corporate, you name it," said Delta vice president of global sales Bob
Somers. But for many companies, especially those that do not have corporate
travel management or travel procurement staff involved with meetings, individual
event contracts do not necessarily dovetail with overall corporate transient travel
contracts. The often-fragmented nature of the meeting planning function within
an organization can result in lost travel data that should contribute to a
corporation's overall travel volume. On the flip side, some organizations
leverage the existing corporate contract for meetings travel but fail to get
the benefits that a unique meetings contract can provide. According to Somers, Delta
Edge Meetings represents the first time an airline has provided a solution for
"Very clearly through the course of our client
interactions, they told us we had to attack meetings and that no one had really
addressed that yet," he said. "Whether [corporate travel buyers]
owned meetings or not, they asked us for a solution that they could display to
their organizations so anyone with a meeting planning function could take
advantage of it."
Delta Edge Meetings is built into the Delta Edge corporate
solution as part of an overall corporate contract. The program automatically
provides corporate clients with Delta's best available pricing by comparing
Delta Edge Meetings discounts with the company's corporate sales agreement
discounts. Under Delta Edge Meetings, meetings travel counts toward fulfillment
of the targets under the customer's corporate sales agreement. Additionally,
all the corporate preferred benefits like priority boarding, preferred seating
and preferred rebooking during trip disruptions extend to meeting travelers,
who in some circumstances may not otherwise travel for business or have loyalty
status with Delta.
[Our clients] told us we had to attack meetings and that no one had really addressed that yet."
Jennie Ho, managing director of specialty and Canadian
sales, spearheaded the program's development. She told BTN Delta piloted the program with approximately a dozen companies
and that once a meeting is registered with Delta, travelers continue to book
through their designated corporate travel channels. "We use a [meeting]
identification code, travel dates and destination in the reservation record to
identify corporate meeting traffic," she said.
Somers added that in the past, the meeting identifier code
and the ticket designator code that identified the traveler's company were not associated
with one another. "It required some significant investments, but we
figured out how to blend them and build in more simplicity for the travel
From a reporting standpoint, Delta will track meetings
travel with the same granularity as transient travel. That includes the "beyond
contract value" associated with the corporate preferred benefits. Travel
and meeting managers will be able to view air spend in multiple ways: associated
with individual meetings, meetings spend as a bundle or combined with transient
"What we are hoping to do is to encourage travel buyers
who are not controlling meetings to start. It's in their best interest to
capture more of the travel and more of the spend," said Somers. It's in
Delta's best interest to capture that, as well.
Asked whether corporations would shift more
meetings share over to Delta based on the program, he said, "The trend is
toward consolidation with meetings, so we think we are hitting the market at
the right time. We built Delta Edge Meetings in collaboration with our clients
and with agencies that need to serve our clients."
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