United Airlines has announced a benefits program for business customers. It is comparable to a corporate recognition program that Delta has established in 2014 and that has recently been extended to joint venture partner Air France-KLM.
United Corporate Preferred gives priority to eligible travelers for upgrades, reaccommodation and standby space. Those who are at the highest level of three levels are given additional grid flexibility when it comes to weather differences. The highest level later this year will also enjoy the preference on board and the choice of seats. The revenue contribution of an account and the contract performance determine the level.
Senior vice president of global sales Jake Cefolia said the program would help the airline to be "sticky" with its corporate accounts. Especially in the middle market he said: "travel managers are under pressure to show more than" negotiated flight rate discounts ".
"It's not only about dollars and cents, but also about experience," Cefolia said during a discussion last week The Company Dime in San Diego. "It is important in a tight labor market because people do make decisions with regard to travel friction."
Cefolia said United is considering how the value of Corporate Preferred benefits should be calculated and reported. What, for example, is worth knowing that you are embarking on board early, finding space in the luggage compartment and not having to check bags? United already offers soft-dollar reporting via the Jetstream portal.
Asked about what customers had requested but did not enter the program, Cefolia stated discounts for booking their holiday vacations. "We may be investigating an offer of United Vacations discounts," he said. "We are still working on it, we saw it as nice to have more than needed."
Southwest Airlines officials had a similar view of that benefit. "We get requests," says senior director corporate sales Matt Smith. "It is not part of our program, we need to work closely with the marketing department to meet the needs of different roles of the traveler, for example Salesforce One of their top priorities is employee satisfaction, not just for business travel, but for all traveling, so there are things we are starting to think creatively about how we can meet that need. "
To receive benefits as part of United's program, travelers must book flights operated by United or United Express.
That is what Delta stayed ahead of. The airline announced that its Corporate Priority program would apply to Air France-KLM bookings and flights, starting in the fourth quarter. The program includes priority selection of seats, boarding and service recovery during irregular operations.
"Customers told us that seams between alliance partners is what we need to focus on," Delta SVP said about the worldwide sales of Bob Somers. "We see alliances as a differentiator The contract is the basis, but how do we create non-transactional value in the tools we offer to take the customer experience to a new level?"
Delta wants to further expand the priority of companies by attracting more alliance partners.
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