Way back when – that is, in 2012 we sleuthed out via Delta job openings the EOS or “Evolution of SkyMiles” yielding the hybrid program we have now. I say hybrid because unlike programs that have fixed value, i.e. cents per point, Delta still uses award charts for redemption they simply (and shamefully) hide them from public view. During the EOS Delta was ready to move to a fixed value for redemption but in the end got cold feet before launch and stuck with award charts.
Before we dive deeper into this post let me make one thing clear. The real value of SkyMiles (i.e. greatest value to you and me) is either in premium cabin redemption (Delta One or Premium Select – not Comfort+) or when Delta has monthly “flash sales“. Also, if very low cost coach tickets can yield you 2 cents or greater in value. Almost anything else (Sky Club drinks, change fees etc.) are just flushing value down the drain.
Most of us are in fear of what Delta is planning to do to the Medallion part of the SkyMiles program next. But that is very different from the award side of the loyalty equation. I personally, for now, value the elite perks and points program much more than the SkyMiles redemption side. We shall see how long I continue to feel this way. Why?
Again we are trying to glean any tiny bits of data from public sources and Delta looking for a “General Manager of Information Technology – Loyalty (SkyMiles) Program” got my attention. Here is the part that stood out in the job posting:
“Be an IT champion and foster innovative thinking to develop the road map for next generation of SkyMiles products and develop framework for nimble delivery. Lead the team in the development and implementation of SkyMiles initiatives that will be leveraged across the enterprise.” from – delta.greatjob.net
So where could this go and what could the “next generation of SkyMiles products” be? To me the writing is already on the wall and it is just the final step of what EOS intended in the first place and that is a move to a fixed or at least a mostly fixed value to SkyMiles to be spendable just like cash on anything Delta offers.
What Delta wants is the same thing Delta always wants – that is, more money. If they can sell SkyMiles to Amex for some large number and get you to spend them at a much lower number they win on the difference. Next, if they can get you to spend them with partners and take a cut again not only are they winning on the value proposition (for them, not you) but also on the referral part of the equation.
Thus, to me, “leveraged across the enterprise” means that Delta wants your SkyMiles to be the currency you go earn, and then Delta can be a part of everything you spend them on and not just on award tickets. Think hotels, cars (maybe even Gogo one day). Anything Delta can have a hand in to get a referral and credit back for you burning your miles in a way that yields less value to you will mean more value to them.
Clearly for me I hope they can remain the premium cabin option but a fixed point value makes that very hard to accomplish. But another thing Delta should fear is folks doing the simple math and moving to better choices. If elite perks can not be gained from card spend and any number of bank cards offer a higher point per cent value, then sticking with earning SkyMiles just becomes a foolish endeavor.
Your turn to speculate. What do you think the minds in Atlanta have on tap for us for the “next generation of SkyMiles products”? – René