Northwest's Smart WorldPerks Marketing

Last Updated Aug 13, 2008 11:05 AM EDT

Five years after my last trip on Northwest Airlines, I've finally booked another one. That five year gap was actually by design. I've never been a huge fan of Northwest, but I thought I'd give them another shot, especially since the name could disappear as soon as the Delta merger gains approval. About a week after I booked I received an email from the airline, and I really am surprised that I haven't seen this from anyone else yet.

The email came with an important-sounding subject "Important information about your past booking on nwa.com." Naturally, I figured my flight had been canceled or there had been a schedule change or something else painful like that. (It's already happened twice on this itinerary.) But that's not what it was. Instead, it was a solicitation to join the airlines frequent flier program, WorldPerks. It read:

We noticed you did not include a WorldPerks number when making a booking on nwa.com in the past. If you didn't subsequently add your number to your reservation, you may have missed the opportunity to get credit for your miles.
It went on from there, but you get the point. Now I actually entered my Delta SkyMiles number when I booked the flight, but Northwest was clear to notice that it wasn't a WorldPerks number. Now, I consider myself educated on frequent flier programs, and there's a reason I'm not in the Northwest program . . . I never fly them and I can earn Delta miles. But I imagine there are plenty of people out there who don't know the first thing about this, so a simple virtually cost-less email probably yields positive results. It's not an intrusive communication, and it's very clear why I've been chosen to receive the email.

This is the kind of proactive marketing that I think airlines could be doing a far better job at. Nice work, Northwest.