Delta Sleeps Around, Cheats on Starwood with Club Carlson

Delta sees itself as a highly valuable marketing platform, they even engaged magazine online ad sales gurus to figure out how to monetize their platform. And they’ve tried to do deals with hotel chains where they envision themselves as an online travel agency like Orbitz and Expedia, seeking to take large commissions for the bookings they send to lodging chains.

The big deal they did this year was with Starwood, the introduction of Crossover Rewards that allows reciprocal entry-level elite recognition for the elites of the other program and also ‘double dipping’ points earning between the two programs in a fairly modest way.

Starwood and Delta essentially entered into a ‘best friends’ agreement to share customers and reward each others’ customers. The extent to which the benefits are modest, though, I was fairly curious and even skeptical that the relationship would drive business worth its cost.

Despite getting so close with Starwood, and I suppose entirely predictable given Delta’s desire to monetize its marketing platform, it was reported this morning at that Delta is sending out targeted emails offering instant Gold status in the Club Carlson program for new account signup.

Now, this is a targeted offer — Club Carlson requires a Delta frequent flyer account number when registering, and instantly checks it against a list of eligible account numbers. If you are a Delta Skymiles elite member you may be targeted.

But what makes this interesting to me, or at least revealing, is that Delta’s deal with Starwood is pretty clearly not exclusive when it comes to sharing elite members and pitching hotel chains to their elites.

Will Starwood get jealous?

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I got this email today but it is only available for people that “DO NOT have a current or past Club Carlson account”. Thus, I am not eligible but I was still targeted. Go figure!!!!

  2. It’s easy to sleep around with hotel chains because they’re all about getting you into their beds.

  3. Not surprised, look at how DL has been treating fellow Skyteam member Korean Airlines

  4. It’s funny, United used to have the Westin Heavenly co-brand. I’m teasing about the SPG jealousy, it’s just interesting that the relationship didn’t include greater exclusivity. If I were Starwood I would have just rented Delta’s elite names, and offered them enticements directly.

  5. I got the offer. Never been with Club Carlson. I usually stay with Starwood and now as of this year Hyatt. Is Gold status with them worth anything?

  6. That’s a real benefit for frequent travelers to Europe/Africa due to CC’s 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 deals for gold elites and up.

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