The truth can now be told -- Delta Air Lines has no website strategy.
Instead, the airline has a digital strategy covering the website, mobile, Facebook, airport kiosks and even gate information displays and Sky magazine.
That's the mantra articulated by Bob Kupbens, Delta's vice president of eCommerce, who says the airline is focusing on giving customers a positive digital experience regardless of which channel they use to interact with the Delta brand.
Kupbens formerly was vice president of technology services at Target so presumably he knows a bit about retailing and can apply that expertise toward Delta's digital strategy.
When he arrived at Delta in the Spring of 2010, Kupbens says Delta.com resembled an ATM machine and was all about transactions with little focus on the user experience.
Since his arrival, the website has undergone a makeover, Delta launched a Ticket Counter app on Facebook with booking capabilities and check-in, and there's been "a ton of emphasis," he says, on mobile.
"There is a richness in the way we merchandise products and it involves content, the business rules around how and when it is available and we want to make sure that richness gets fully represented in any channel we sell the product," Kupbens says.
Part of the strategy is to identify products that have value and to promote them in new ways. Kupbens says Delta, for instance, has introduced a monthly payment option for SkyClub membership and made First Class upsell "simpler and more retail-like. It's not just about paying for your bag."
On the mobile front, Delta passengers equipped with smartphones can now take advantage of eBoarding in 69 cities worldwide, including 17 in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
In fact, in recent days the airline has reached the point where 85% of its check-ins globally take place in "preferred channels" -- Facebook, mobile apps, Delta.com and airport kiosks, or any venue that doesn't involve standing in line at a ticket counter.
Delta's mobile options account for a mid-single-digit percentage of total check-ins, Kupbens says, acknowledging that mobile check-ins have grown much faster than anticipated.
And, Delta has several new mobile features on the agenda.
In late June or early July, Delta plans to give its Fly Delta iPhone app seat selection and standby upgrade capabilities. The app recently began offering the ability to rebook in the event of an irregular operation.
And with existing Fly Delta apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android, a Windows Phone 7 app is in the works, as well.
Interestingly, while you might think that a majority of Delta Medallion-level frequent flyers wield Blackberrys, the airline has found that 40% have iPhones, 25% handle Blackberrys and 23% use Android devices, among the top three.
Siting in his office at headquarters in Atlanta, Kupbens offered some interesting points about Delta's Facebook Ticket Counter app, which got a lot of publicity because it was a first for U.S. airlines.
Facebook is the most-frequently used Delta site visited among travelers using Delta's in-flight Wi-Fi, although in terms of ticket bookings, the Facebook app "clearly is not going to be our biggest channel," Kupbens says.
And the Ticket Counter app is not a Facebook-only thing for Delta, Kupbens says.
For example, you can now find the Delta Ticket Counter app on The Greenbrier resort website and the airline has plans to deploy the app on other sites, as well.
It's all part of Delta's evolving digital strategy.
After all, that was then and this is now.
Here are the before and after photos of the Delta.com homepage from July 2010 and today.
And today's homepage:
And, for Kupbens, there's plenty of more work to do across myriad channels.
Disclosure: Delta Air Lines provided the writer with a free flight to its Atlanta headquarters.