“Delta Clean” is a sign of things to come

The world will be a different place once we’re on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis and consumer behaviour will change. Just one example, we could see the end of many movie theatres, with online streamed premieres becoming more common (which as an aside has interesting implications for IFE).

Certainly in the West, there will also be much greater awareness of hygiene.  This was a point reinforced by South China Morning Post CEO Gary Liu in a recent TED talk where he pointed out that in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, the 2003 SARS outbreak made things such as wearing a mask when you are sick, or regularly disinfecting public buildings down to the elevators, part of everyday normal life.

While Covid-19 is with us, airlines have realised the importance of showing how thoroughly they clean their aircraft, with everyone from Alaska Airlines to Qatar Airways producing videos featuring staff in protective clothing scrubbing the seatback tables and armrests with disinfectant.

Delta, however, has gone one stage further in a new video entitled ‘A New Standard of Clean.’

The video is fronted by Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, Bill Lentsch (who has also been the face of the airline’s other Covid-19 videos).  Within the first 10 seconds, Lentsch gets straight to the point – “ensuring the highest levels of clean should not be reserved for times of crisis.”  He then says that this is why Delta will be “changing the definition of airline cleanliness.”

After that comes the big reveal.  This isn’t just any old clean, this is “Delta Clean.”

Let’s think about that for a second. Delta has gone so far as to give it a name.  It recognises that “clean” will in future be just as important a brand message as ‘best IFE’ or ‘best in-flight cuisine.’

Arguably it will be even more important, as it’s as much a safety as a service message.  Just as consumers shy away as an airline they consider unsafe, they will do the same with anywhere they perceive they might get sick (even if the reality is otherwise).

Delta tries to own ‘clean’ as a brand attribute long term

As a result, Delta is putting its stake in the ground now in trying to own ‘clean’ for the long term.

The rest of the video then goes into detail about what “Delta Clean” actually involves.  This includes fogging all domestic flights, and before every flight thoroughly cleaning “high touch” items in what Delta says is an “industry-leading change.”

In fact, Lentsch claims that Delta’s commitment to ‘clean’ is so thorough, that staff will be empowered to halt boarding of an aircraft and bring back the cleaning crew if their spot checks show that something is amiss.

The video is backed up by a press release, which includes the same messaging, namely that the cleaning measures introduced during the pandemic will be kept long term.

Overall this is smart. It shows that Delta is thinking about the post-Covid-19 world now.  It is stealing a march on its major competitors, who will almost be certainly be forced to follow suit.  It also shows how full-service airlines will be at an advantage vs LCCs, whose whole model has involved a quick turn around of flights with cabin crew often having to perform cleaning duties themselves.

Have you seen our dedicated Covid-19 page?  It features a series of free resources for airline marketers.

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