How Delta Plans to Foster a Lifetime of Loyalty

Years ago United used to offer ‘College Plus’ — the biggest benefit of which was 10,000 miles upon graduation.

It’s hardly a new idea to get to consumers early while they’re forming their preferences in hopes of a lifetime of future loyalty.

Delta is partnering with 9 new universities to try to do just that — going “beyond logo placement and into campus life.”

Here’s what Jeff Robertson, who used to run SkyMiles, has to say about the strategy:

“College students are a savvy group of consumers,” said Jeff Robertson, Delta Vice President – Product Development, Sky Clubs and Marketing Communications. “By creating campus and alumni events that incorporate our people, our unmatched focus on customer service, leadership and more, we will give students and alums the opportunity to really get to know our airline. Ultimately, we believe this will position Delta as their trusted partner over a lifetime of travel.”

These are the 9 schools Delta will be partnering with:

  • Duke
  • University of Florida
  • Indiana University
  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan State
  • Notre Dame
  • Ohio State
  • Penn State
  • University of Wisconsin

Delta has existing partnerships with Boston College, Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, UNC, and Syracuse.

Some of the events planned include:

  • Delta employees helping at Michigan’s State’s move-in day as 10,000 freshmen arrive

      Delta employees helped out at the Freddie Awards in 2015

  • A lounge space and Delta grill that looks like an airplane at football season tailgate parties. Entrance requires SkyMiles membership and students can sign up for the mileage program to get in.

  • Football watch parties with alumni associations

But no miles for graduation, perhaps because without award charts Delta wouldn’t be able to tell students what they could do with their points.

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. Not at all surprised that Slippery Jeff is trying to pull a fast one and get the kids hooked on the mileage drug at an early age. That said most people who are smart enough to go to college know that you should never trade in a currency that has no published value. The list they did include features some great universities who attract educated people. They should have stuck with schools like Stetson which, sometimes confused with $10 cologne sold at Walgreens, appeal to the Glen Hauensteins of the world. Parents and college kids will book the most affordable fares based on schedule. Nice try.

  2. Be interested to see some more details of this, if only to see what (and if) they set up at a Nittany Lions game this season

  3. Snarky comment there…in the new FF world kids will figure out how to use the miles. Because let’s be honest here, when any of us was new in the game we had little idea how to best use our miles anyway. Maybe Delta has a grand scheme to ‘give’ out miles by getting these college students to sign up for a credit card 🙂

  4. Not sure if this was part of the new partnership but over the summer we were informed by Duke that anyone affiliated with Duke from students (including grad students like me) to professors could provide their Delta SM number and have it linked to the Duke code, enabling us to receive the corporate discount Duke receives.

  5. I am in college now and you would be surprised college students are one of the worst when it comes to frequent miles usage

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