JetBlue Airways has launched aprogram, bucking a recent trend that’s seen competitors like Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines completely do away with their meetings products.
The program, CompanyBlue Meetings, is geared to planners who are booking flights for at least 15 travelers to the same destination. JetBlue has set up a dedicated meetings desk and will offer planners a complimentary travel certificate for every 40 meeting attendees booked. In addition, meeting planners also get a credit for future travel on JetBlue that is equal to the dollar value of the average fare (minus taxes and fees) for every 40 seats booked.
The airline has for the last several years “definitely been interested in the corporate market,” says Chad Meyerson, JetBlue’s manager of group sales, who was hired a year ago with the objective of developing CompanyBlue Meetings. Over the last year, Meyerson conducted a series of meetings with individual corporate meeting planners to determine what they would like to see in a meetings product. “This [CompanyBlue] provides them with the incentives and flexibility they wanted to see,” says Meyerson.
While airlines like Delta and Southwest have done away with their meetings program, Meyerson says “from our perspective, this is a very attractive market.” According to Meyerson, JetBlue has long been known as a company that caters to the leisure market and has had no trouble filling planes during the leisure market’s peak periods. “Going after the corporate meetings market is going to allow us to fill our planes” off-peak, says Meyerson. “It’s a great piece of business.”
Other features of the program include a provision where JetBlue will hold seats for up to two weeks without a deposit for travel booked at least 60 days in advance. After that time, a deposit of $50 per traveler is required, with final payment due 30 days before departure. In addition, planners will be able to change 10 percent of the total number of seats booked for a group without paying the airline's $30 change fee.
In an introductory offer, any planner booking a meeting with at least 15 travelers by July 1 will receive 10 free travel certificates. “We want to make a pretty big splash as we get this up and running,” says Meyerson.