by Lisa Grimaldi | August 01, 2005
Mark BondyDelta Air Lines, recently under fire from the industry for eliminating its Delta Meeting Network earlier this year, has tweaked its group booking policy.
    Since January, planners have had to provide Delta with winners’ names 30 days after blocking seats 90 days or more in advance for domestic group programs; for international programs, names were due 60 days prior to departure.
    As incentive winners typically are not named until weeks before a trip, the new policy was denounced by incentive companies and the Chicago-based Society of Incentive & Travel Executives.
    Last month, Delta revised its international group program. Now, planners can provide winners’ names 45 days before departure to Europe or Asia and 30 days prior to Central/South America, Mexico and Caribbean trips.
    However, the existing domestic group policy “will remain in place,” according to Kathleen Eddy, Delta’s manager of meeting, association and trade sales.
    Industry leaders say the change, while encouraging, is not enough. “It’s a move in the right direction, but we all know that if the domestic policy does not change, planners will bring their business elsewhere,” said Brenda Anderson, CEO of SITE.
    “Delta took itself out of the market when it created this policy,” said Mark Bondy, partner and president of Traverse City, Mich.-based Viktor Incentives & Meetings. He added that he will consider Delta only for international programs or when extra seats are needed at the last minute.