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You Can Now Book Delta Tickets Through Facebook, But Who Would Want To?

August 16, 2010 at 4:36 PM | by | Comments (0)

At the end of last week, Delta announced that they'd become the first airline in the world to offer seamless booking, from the initial search through the final purchase, all via the airline's Facebook fan page. This landmark innovation, which was definitely being developed by EasyJet and probably being pursued by other airlines, will empower Delta's customers to integrate their travel life with the managements of their social networks in the context of... YAWN.

Listen. When Orbitz rolled out their Facebook application last year, that was pretty stupid. The idea was that people would share their itineraries with their friends, then their friends would be inspired to splurge on the same itineraries, then Orbitz would make money. The problem - in sharp contrast to what consultants tell the middle managers of travel companies - is that phrases like "social media," "viral advertising," and "user generated content" aren't actually magical. They have to make sense against the backdrop of how customers actually use products, and people don't buy tickets that way.

You know what the salient difference is between that Orbitz application and this Delta application? Absolutely nothing. We could get technical about this - Facebook's demographic prioritizes price and so uses meta search engines; the demographic that sticks to one airline like Delta isn't prone to use Facebook - but let's not muddy the waters. The silliness of the Ticket Window lies in the fundamental fact that people don't buy tickets that way.

What's the theory here anyway? That someone will be hanging out on the Delta fan page and suddenly get overcome by the urge to purchase a ticket? It can't be that the airline wants customers to use the fan page as their primary destination, as opposed to delta.com. That wouldn't make much sense. Not to worry though, because Delta is planning to export the technology into banner ads, another portal that people don't use to book airline tickets.

There's an entire additional post to be written about how Delta mismanaged the social media rollout on this, but we don't have that kind of time. Suffice to say that just under 1% of their Facebook fans have "liked" the announcement, and that many of the comments underneath the blurb range from moderately critical to outright nasty.

Related Stories:
· Delta beats EasyJet as first airline to offer booking engine within Facebook [TNooz]
· Social Media Travel [Jaunted]
· Social Media [Jaunted]

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