A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines

Companies that do “year in review” features for their customers can often spark continued engagement by supporting the key psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. By reviewing all of the customer’s activity, showing how it adds up to bigger outcomes, and how the customer is part of a larger community, the reviews can make people feel like their consumer habits were meaningful. I’ve received these sorts of round-ups in past years from Map My Run and Blue Apron and found them engaging.

Then I got my 2016 Year in Review from Delta, one of the airlines I fly most loyally (yo Delta, hit me up). It was . . . somewhat less effective than the other examples I mentioned. Check it out:

OK, so far so good. I like the reminder that I had Gold Medallion status, and the language (“rewarding”) suggests good news. Let’s read on.

OK, another compliment, but now I’m starting to feel a little disturbed. I flew enough to buy six award tickets? And having sat in 14 window seats may not seem that bad (a little more than one flight per month), except that I prefer aisle seats and usually select those. So how much of my life did I spend soaring through the air in a tin can?

Oh. Sixty-five hours. More than 2.5 days. That’s just great.

On paper, Delta’s doing the right things here. They’re supporting competence by showing how all of my shorter flights added up to a big period of time (65 hours!!). They’re supporting relatedness by emphasizing the relationship we have together thanks to all the flying I do. And by emphasizing that they care about my input as a valued customer, they’re supporting my sense of autonomy.

But somehow, my overwhelming feeling is less motivation and more shock at how much of my life is spent on getting places instead of being there. An alternative might have been for Delta to focus on the experiences they enabled: How many destinations did I visit? How many days between round trip flights did I spend at my location (especially if it was vacation and not work)?

So yes, Delta has motivated me with this year in review round up, but probably not in the direction they’d hoped. Here’s looking forward to a year where I spend more time being there and less time getting there.