transcripts : November 1st, 2000


Moderator
There's a few of you tonight. Welcome.....

Tolarian Wind
Hello

jtg_seattle
Thanks for having us

Moderator
Here's a progress report on where I think we are and what needs to be done next......let me type in this information for you all -

Tolarian Wind
Have you had any industry feedback from the saveskymiles site?

Moderator
What I have done so far is to let Delta know that a groundswell group of concerned SkyMilers is putting together a series of comments and suggestions to share with them. These are being gathered through the balance of the year and I also made them aware of SaveSkyMiles. Our approach will always be open with Delta.... Now -

Moderator
I have purposely not let them know a timetable for our suggestions as I think we've all got plenty of things to contribute to the effort. In just the first few days of the SSM.com Web site, we've got over 500 SkyMilers registered and they represent over a quarter billion SkyMiles. Our goal will be to significantly raise the number of people signing the petition...

Moderator
Last week we mailed out the first few thousand of "Boarding Cards" and have run out and have ordered 10,000 to be delivered here tomorrow. So if you haven't received any yet, they are "almost" in the mail.

Rssrsvp
Moderator, it would be nice if we could at least get a dialogue going with DL before the end of the year, so that we don't waste miles for 2001. Also, I couldn't download the cards and have used Adobe software before. My computer froze up. Please check this out.

Moderator
What I'd like to ask you all tonight is some help. As a "groundswell" initiative by SkyMiles members, I'd like to get some help form you as concerned members. Specifically I need some help with content for the SSM.com Web site. I need someone to volunteer to recap the current changes to the program, someone else to recap a competitive analysis and someone else to keep track of our proposed solution.... Volunteers anyone?

Moderator
We will check out the Adobe Reader. I actually printed it out the other day with no problem, but we perhaps need to test many more computers OS and browsers. Sorry.

Track
I'd be happy to keep track of our proposals.

Tolarian Wind
I would volunteer but while I am concerned about what is going on and support the group. I really don't have the in depth knowledge needed as I have not been flying the last couple of years and only recently returned to the sky

Tolarian Wind
So, I don't think I would be the best person for that task

dswallow
I think doing the competitive analysis recap is something I could get into, though I sometimes wonder how easy it is to get into the fine print and really try to compare apples with apples, from the attempts at it I've seen done in the last few months.

Tolarian Wind
The ff-talk site had a good chart

the scribbler
I'd be happy to write up why SkyMiles has made it self-less competitive. My knowledge of other carries is only CO, AA and UA, though

Moderator
I'm afraid of starting a dialog with Delta too soon because we don't yet have a mass of members that can be considered important to Delta. I don't believe 527 people is represented for the 30 plus million members of SkyMiles. So, with some urging, we need to get our numbers up....

Tolarian Wind
http://www.ff-talk.com/IDX%20DL%20Award%20Charts.htm

dswallow
Yeah... I've seen it, but think that's where my comments apply. :-)

Moderator
Tolarian, good idea. I wouldn't want to just take that information. Would you be so kind as to ask (politely) if we could use it here?

Tolarian Wind
As a cut and paste or a link to that site/page?

dswallow
I'm more than willing to have a go at it. I think there's a lot of room for improvement over that sort of charts.

Moderator
I can certainly provide the competitive analysis from InsideFlyer which we'll acknowledge.

Moderator
Now, we need ideas on how we can really get more people registered for the petition. Anyone? I know it's early in our efforts, but let's decide on what number is a good one to then go to Delta with? Ideas anyone/

the scribbler
It we knew for certain, what it is DL is trying to do with the program changes it would be easier to concisely explain why they're making a mistake. I think it's important to keep things straight to the point, target a few key issues at first, ones that we're really serious about and see where they meet us on those. If we throw too much stuff at them, they're libel to feel overwhelmed of pick the things that are least important to us to change--if they change anything.

Track
It would help if we knew how many ftalkers there are. What percentage of the total is 500?

Moderator
Track......with those registered and those lurking, FT probably represents over 75,000 people....

the scribbler
So I understand where has the 500 come from so far. Just word of mouth and FT?

jtg_seattle
How about an email to all registered FT's?

Moderator
Just word of mouth. But let's be realistic.......this is only a subset....Delta members only and there are far more UA and other program members on FT who have no interest in this....

Moderator
I can arrange an email blast to ask for support, however, I'd like to know from you tonight.....Would you think members at large will consider that spam?

the scribbler
Okay, so 500 people from purely word of mouth. What would happen (not saying we'd do this, or have the means to do so) if they were banner ads on travel sites, etc.

jtg_seattle
No, if it can happen at DL, then NW, UA, AA, etc....

the scribbler
Members of FT, no, not spam

FewMiles
I'm not a DL member, but I would say I and other non-DLers have an interest in this issue. Basically, if DL can "get away with" these kind of changes for its elite members, what's to stop other airlines from attempting the same, particularly when the ranks of elite's are growing faster than ever.

jtg_seattle
Everyone will take it seriously

Rssrsvp
Moderator, one of the most important points to make is that the new program hurts the SM and GM members more than the SM's and we are the majority of the medallion members. All of the FT DL board posters would respond.

Moderator
The scribbler....... I can have some banners ads created and don't mind buying some from other Web sites......

the scribbler
I read other airlines that I don't fly

dswallow
I can't think of a simple way, but I would presume it would be best to try to draw people who aren't habitually mileage watchers... people that might be traveling and "just happen" to be earning miles they like to get... I'm sure there's plenty of travel forums around the various travel sites online that we could solicit through.

Track
I found the split up of the 500 interesting. GMers constitute the biggest group, logically, as they're most affected by the changes. People are signing because of their direct interest in the subject.

Rssrsvp
The NW members would be interested.

the scribbler
I'm just saying that 500 people with word of mouth. What DL should consider now is how high we can get that number if we start going to town. They might not want that and might be interested in discussing just the 500

Moderator
I can purchase about 200,000 banner ads from trip.com and I think I can barter/buy some ads from biztravel.com Any ideas on where else?

jtg_seattle
Travelocity/Expedia?

Rssrsvp
Home pages on ISP sites like Earthlink.

jtg_seattle
Yahoo Travel

Moderator
I think once we represent one billion miles of SkyMiles then I can attract the media who might help the issue...... we're a quarter of the way there.....

Tolarian Wind
To borrow from a current movie, I think each of us should "Pay it Forward"

dswallow
Generally I find that AOL'ers represent as much as 17 to 25% of the traffic at some of the web sites I run; does anyone here know someone who runs whatever AOL has for travel online?

jtg_seattle
Isn't AOL a Sabre shop?

the scribbler
Out of curiosity, why is the number of miles important?

Moderator
AOL will probably be tough to approach given their new relationship with AA and probably not interested in these types of things since it might come home to haunt them of ever there was SaveAAdvantage.com

the scribbler
What are sites/companies, etc. indigenous to CVG, ATL, SLC...

Tolarian Wind
How about getting one of those lurking reporters to do a story on the issue

dswallow
I think it's a matter of some "magic hook" that attracts attention... like "a BILLION miles" represented... WOW. Etc.

dswallow
Now if we could have a TRILLION... :-)

Rssrsvp
Wall St Journal, NY Times travel section, etc.

the scribbler
Okay, I do think we should have our story straight before the press does their "take" on it.

Moderator
Number of miles represent power.....Look closely at the current SSM.com average, almost 525,000 miles per petition person. Part of the focus of these changes are what SkyMilers will do if unhappy with the direction that Delta is taking. If it's just a bunch of low end SMers who average balance is only 53,000....I doubt Delta will take it too seriously....

dswallow
Are you totaling lifetime miles or outstanding/unused miles?

Rssrsvp
GMers start as SMers , and guess where PMers come from.

the scribbler
And all those miles do affect revenue, once people start spending miles instead of money on DL

Moderator
No program wants to risk losing members who represent that kind of revenue business to them....

Moderator
Total lifetime..., which equals total revenue contribution.

the scribbler
My gut feeling suggests that SkyTeam is a lot of this problem. Any thoughts on that Moderator?

Rssrsvp
AF is hurting us.

dswallow
I'd say AF more than SkyTeam. They were chintzy to begin with.

Moderator
I thought about that, but the reality is that SkyTeam, other than create new elite members doesn't have upgrades honored from those partners and it will be about 15 months before the alliance impact hits Delta......

Tolarian Wind
Thanks, I meant to ask if Moderator knew Rudy of sav trav fame, maybe he would put a link to saveskymiles on his site

the scribbler
I see already a lot of Korean Air people in J on LAX-JFK; my guess is they're paying for it. DL seems to benefit the most from this alliance so maybe they figure they don't need to worry about us so much anymore if they can see full fare to other alliance member pax

Moderator
I do know Rudy Maxa and consider him a pretty good guy. Once we have a nice platform - better content on SSM.com, we'll approach him, Peter Greenberg of NBC travel, USA Today and of course The Wall Street Journal....

the scribbler
Yes, DSswallow, my point is that if you live in CDG why bother with an AF account, the benefits are nil, when you can have a SkyMiles account, get systemwides--which you wouldn't get with AF

Rssrsvp
Moderator, do you wish to list the important issues now?

Moderator
Yes, good idea - let me list them as I see them:

Rssrsvp
Changing the program mid-year without advance notice.

Moderator
1) Below competitive standards.

Moderator
2) Confusing information announcing the changes

Moderator
3) Revenue drain from losing members

Moderator
No sign that they have ever considered internal solutions

the scribbler
"Internal solution" meaning...

Tolarian Wind
Firing all the marketing people!

Rssrsvp
Send Mullen to AA

Moderator
The "MySkyMiles" proposals discussed last chat whereby Delta would assign upgrades by type of demand...some preferring domestic, others preferring SWUs

FewMiles
What are you trying to send to AA??

dswallow
Moderator, my feeling is that we're not hearing anything close to the truth behind why these changes were made, and it's very hard to make an argument for a fix to something when you're going off in the wrong direction. Nothing Delta has said makes sense about "why." It's obfuscation.

Tolarian Wind
Domestic on any fare!

the scribbler
AA I've heard will take you upgrade points (unused) and turn them into miles

Rssrsvp
There are plenty of empty BE seats on international routes.

Moderator
Here's what I have been told. They are making the change because there doesn't seem to be a way they can please a significant number of members. Apparently they have heard feedback that members have little or no chance to use them, so the solution is not to offer something that doesn't have a reasonable chance of being honored by the members....

FewMiles
Scribbler you are right. If you fly mostly international, you can trade 4x500 earned upgrades for 10k-bonus miles.

Moderator
They are coming at it from trying to have the highest percentage of "cleared" upgrades in the industry...

Track
Moderator, do you mean 800-mile coupons not being used or SWU's?

the scribbler
If you do a search on FT in the DL section, you will notice that no one ever reasonably complained about not being able to use a SWU

FewMiles
If people can't use them, then they should offer an opportunity for those people to "trade" the SWUs for something else... domestics or miles.

Moderator
Now, there seems to be something missing from this chat......have you not all been frustrated with using them?

the scribbler
No!

dswallow
And what I mean by saying I think we haven't heard the REAL reason, is that nobody in any of the talks or on the forums has said they've had any regular trouble using SWU's EXCEPT when there's an L fare involved. My personal experience is the same; never a problem using them when the fare was OK for it.

ak
Moderator, I have never had any problems using my SWU's for international travel.

Track
I've always been able to use my SWU's, but I have piles of 800-mile coupons expiring soon.

Moderator
Then there is either a disconnect from DL or it's a very likely smoke screen for protecting "revenue" at the risk of loyalty....

Tolarian Wind
They must have gotten the feedback from a pop up delta.com survey, instead of a real focus group!

Moderator
This is actually very good news tonight...you never know what I'll/you'll learn. I guess I've thought that most of you were frustrated with the use of SWUs

the scribbler
What they're saying is simply not the truth. They want people to use miles. If they were selling the seats hand over fist, they'd be putting more in. There's too much non-flight mileage out there and there's only going to be more. What they're missing is that they're penalizing the people who earn the miles on their planes as opposed to solely at the supermarket.

dswallow
We should be careful not to weight our reasoning on the basis of anything they've said is their reason for the changes; it should be supported more by the "changes made make a lot of people unhappy" than by trying to support other ways to solve what they've said is the reason.

Moderator
But, let's be real here.....How many of you are comfortable that tonight's focus chat is a true representation of the entire Medallion base?

Rssrsvp
The 800 milers are unfair. They should be applied to the total mileage of the trip; not individual segments and we should be refunded unused miles after the trip. Why do I have to use 4 upgrades JFK-LAX when the trip is 2475 miles? I should get a credit for 775 miles.

Tolarian Wind
Not comfortable with that

Moderator
Tolarian.... Which point?

dswallow
There's always that concern, though I know more people who are mileage accumulators from credit cards than from actual flying, so I wonder if the skew is off in a direction I'd never thought of before now.

Tolarian Wind
Not a true representation

the scribbler
I'm relatively comfortable saying that there are going to be very few people happy about not having SWUs anymore and having to pay higher than L to upgrade.

Tolarian Wind
I agree with that, but I don't think u can say that we are a valid cross section

the scribbler
People obviously know about the SWUs because they apparently can't use them. Taking them away is not going to make them any happier.

FewMiles
Not true representation: there are only 5 people in this room with DL logos + ak, so that makes 6 people. I don't even fly DL.

Tolarian Wind
I don't often see people at the gate tearing them up because they cant use them!

Moderator
By getting a larger segment base of petition people at SSM.com, we'll be able to then query the group to answer questions along this line: percentage times upgraded, 2) happy with the current situation of supply and demand, 3) likelihood of moving some business away, etc.

Rssrsvp
True

Track
Great idea! SSM.com should have a questionnaire.

Moderator
FewMiles.....Thanks for making the point about a true representation...

the scribbler
Considering they probably made this decision with 12 people in a focus group--if they bothered with one at all, 500 should be a good cross section.

Rssrsvp
Moderator, back to my 1st point. They changed the program mid-year!

Moderator
We've got work to do. We need to get the word out and if I can rely on those of you who volunteered tonight, we'll get the content up we need in just a few days.....

Tolarian Wind
How bout what CO just did! That takes some nerve

Track
For me the worst was reducing the benefits and billing it an improvement to the FF plan! The crust!

Rssrsvp
Which was?

the scribbler
Might take me through the weekend to put my words together on why they're less competitive. What do I do with it when I'm done?

Tolarian Wind
Automated upgrades. No more calling, based on lots of criteria, but the low level elite will probably not get upgraded

Tolarian Wind
I was going to move to CO but that's out now

Moderator
Rssrsvp......Yes they did because according to the suggested NAAG guidelines and their own fine print, a program should give 6 months notice to major changes in the program and with the annual qualification being 12/31 and new benefits launching in Feb...They did meet that qualification...... no lawsuits possible here....

Rssrsvp
Still unfair to those that invested miles the 1st 6 months

Moderator
The scribbler...sends it along to me...I'll add and edit and assist you. The purpose of my asking for help is that this doesn't need to represent the members themselves, not just another rant from Moderator and InsideFlyer....

dswallow
Where's the line we should not cross? I mean, if I were running an airline frequent flyer program, I know all sorts of things I could manage to come up with that would be minimal cost. Heck, never let a FC/BC seat go empty if there's someone you could put in it that'd appreciate the perk of ... well, you know... but where do we draw a line on what we try to ask them to do?

the scribbler
Great. Got to run. Thanks again Moderator!

Moderator
No, thank you....

Tolarian Wind
cya

Moderator
Anything else to discuss tonight folks?

Track
If I'm to keep track of our proposals, in what form should this be?

Rssrsvp
We can email you

Moderator
To recap...over the next few days we'll update content and competitive charts on the Web site. We'll all start to ask fellow flyers to support these efforts and we'll meet back here in two weeks.....

dswallow
Moderator, we should all try to figure out a way for those of us doing things to contact each other... now's no trouble, but in the future as it grows; like I know no ones email. :-) Well, yours I know now.

Moderator
Please email me about anything.....

ak
Moderator, is Delta aware of SSM.com....?

Track
Ok

FewMiles
Can you send the folks who are preparing further proposals etc. the chat transcript?

Moderator
ak, Yes, I alerted them because this effort is not going to be a bushwhack.... We're going to always be up front with our concerns....

ak
Thanks.

Moderator
FewMiles...yes, though the chat transcript is always available on the SSM.com Web site under Talk the Word...

Rssrsvp
Moderator, have they appointed a new head of the Sky Miles dept?

Tolarian Wind
I would like to apply for that position!

Moderator
Not yet......truthfully, there's a lack of people who can really handle the responsibility.....

Rssrsvp
There is always Hillary.

Moderator
Actually, Christine Pierce who heads it now is pretty good....but this issue is a stickler...

Tolarian Wind
I would like the job

Rssrsvp
How about Bill after he leaves office?

Moderator
They are looking at 10 years loyalty experience, airline preferred, MBA, all the stuff...

Tolarian Wind
I have been loyal to DL for over 10 years.. they are an airline, so I qualify on that one. No MBA

FewMiles
But sometimes the most important credential for a leader is to have a clear vision. It is after all, the people s/he leads that have to do the real "grunt" work.

dswallow
So they're just trying to do "more of the same" not try to create anything new/better.

Rssrsvp
Moderator, are we to email you proposals or send them to Track?

Moderator
Let's remember, Delta has always followed a different drum......remember they had a 30,000 mile award when everyone else was 20,000?

Tolarian Wind
But they had double rewards for their medallion level

dswallow
hehe... well, then there's a need for LOYALTY isn't there? Because cost and miles aren't going to be why people stick around!

Moderator
Rssrsvp...Whatever you are comfortable with. I think Track is up to the task and I can connect with him later.... Thanks for your volunteerism...

Rssrsvp
What is Track's email address?

ak
Moderator, will the proposals be posted on SSM.com....?

Moderator
But there were always more regular members than Medallion.... Let's see who has the best program: 20,000-mile award or 30,000 mile award...guess which line was longer/

Track
I'm at [omitted for privacy]

Moderator
ak - Yes.

Tolarian Wind
I know that.. I'm talking about rewarding the loyal and giving an incentive to make it there and a reason to stay!

Moderator
As you all know...once loyalty is established...it can be taken advantage of....

Rssrsvp
Case in point

Rssrsvp
Moderator, are you aware of any other airlines trying to woo DL members?

dswallow
Yeah; I wonder how I'd feel about all this if it were easy to pick up my miles and go somewhere else without the drudgery of requalifying... right now I feel a little stuck; not altogether unhappy about Delta, really, but just stuck in my commitment.

Moderator
Everyone is interested but they all are cautious because many want to say they will move their business just to get another elite card but most don't....all talk, no miles.

Tolarian Wind
If I moved, I would stay where I moved to

FewMiles
You can always ask for comp status, though I don't believe other airlines would give a special deal to DL members. It wouldn't be fair to their current elite's and people being comped from other non-DL programs.

Moderator
Until that airline disservice you.....

Rssrsvp
AA did comp me last month.

Moderator
Did you take the Challenge?

Rssrsvp
No elite challenge

Track
From/to which level, Rssrssvp?

Rssrsvp
They based it on my lifetime miles, not this year's.

Moderator
Time's up - I don't think Delta means harm....they just need all your guidance and understanding that you would all like them to be a better program......until next time......enjoy your upgrades...see you in TheBuzz....have a good week all.

Chat Transcripts:
Missed out on a SkyMiles chat event? We've kept transcripts from our scheduled events and will post them for your convenience. They'll be posted as soon as they're available...

(Transcripts have been edited for brevity and editorial content)

February 3, 2003

January 29, 2003

January 27, 2003

November 16th, 2000

November 1st, 2000

October 19th, 2000

October 5th, 2000

...more to come


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