What to do when you make a mistake? It was not a PR move. Federal regulations require Delta honor the prices, so they’re really getting the shaft on this.
But, if Delta plays its cards right after what looks like a colossal pricing gaff, they could easily become America’s new sweetheart Airline.
Don’t believe me?
If I was Delta’s chief marketing officer, I’d start playing into the media’s obsession with the $25 ticket story. Delta should re-tweet every post about the story with the hashtag #MyBad. They should joke about it, being as self-deprecating as possible – do a few interviews, post some blog posts. They should unabashedly tell the truth about what happened, why, how many people got low-cost tickets, and how much money they left on the table.
They should reach out personally to each person who snagged one of those low-cost tickets. Chances are, they’re at least a little tech-savvy if they were buying tickets online. These folks will know how to tweet and, hopefully, use Instagram.
They should congratulate the ticket holders and give them an automatic upgrade to First Class with all the trimmings. They’ll do this because Delta knows the next news story is that these ticketholders are likely to be vilified for keeping their tickets, at least a little.
They should ask each ticketholder to Instagram or Tweet a picture of themselves on their trip using the hashtag #MyBadVacation and send Delta’s marketing manager an email about the story of their trip. Delta should take all these pictures and stories and post them to a new Tumblr blog: #MyBadVacation. They’ll do this to humanize these ticketholders, sending an official signal that “Delta is cool with this”. They’ll eat the easily-forgettable and short-lived bad press that maybe it really was a PR stunt after all, because it’ll provide those ticketholders with the cover they need to not look like those jerks who snag foul balls from kids at baseball games.
It will be savvy, heartfelt, and if they want to – they can repeat a controlled form of the “gaff” again next year, but make it clear these tickets will be a PR stunt. They get free press near the busiest travel season, a few giggles at their expense followed up by the warm tingles of a company doing it right, they make a few lucky people really happy, and they get a stream of positive stories and social media posts from their customers with very little effort.
What do you think? Would my plan work? Could they pull it off? Would you do something different? Let me know in the comments.