In the 2017 Travel Industry Survey, agents were asked what types of suppliers they use to book tours and packages, and while traditional tour operators maintained their position as the most popular type of supplier by far, small gains were made by both airline-branded packages and online packages, both of which increased by 4 percentage points compared with last year. Senior editor Michelle Baran spoke to Delta Vacations president Jennie Ho about why airline-branded packages are resonating more with retailers.
Q: Why do you think the airline-branded packages and online packager segments are seeing growth?
A: From our perspective, the airlines and this is Delta Air Lines, of course have really made an investment to improve our level of service. It's [increasingly becoming a brand] that customers can trust. It starts with the core airline brands and customers and that relationship getting stronger. Of course, as the airline wholly owned vacation package provider we are part of the same brand. And we equally challenge ourselves to grow and improve like the airline. The customer satisfaction metric is one that we monitor very closely.
Q: How does Delta's loyalty program play into the gains you're making with travel agents?
A: When our customers purchase a Delta Vacations package they earn miles. Our customers are getting real benefits from purchasing Delta Vacations because of our connection to the airline. Customers may redeem their Sky Miles to buy any portion of their vacation package. This is a particular area that we have seen returns from in terms of customers being more and more active in using their mileage balance to purchase a portion of their vacation package.
Q: Why are airline-branded packagers such as Delta Vacations still lagging behind traditional tour operators when it comes to travel agent bookings?
A: We continue to see this line of business grow at Delta Vacations because we purposefully invest in the relationship we have with travel agents and offer them resources and tools to help their business grow. We do this because we know the role they play to serve and care for our mutual customers, both on a daily basis and also when the unexpected happens.