Delta Airlines this morning launched a Facebook feature that allows viewers to complete flight bookings without leaving the site. And the same feature will begin appearing in the next few days in the airline’s display ads on various major news and publisher sites, said Paul Skrbec, Delta spokesperson. “There will be an arrow consumers can click that will expand a window right on the site they are currently on,” he said. “The entire transaction happens in the ticket window.” Indeed, powered by Alvenda’s technology, the feature allows the viewer to buy airfares directly on Facebook or publisher sites. 1-800 Flowers began using a similar feature – allowing checkout to occur on Facebook – last year, explained Wade Gerten, CEO of the Minneapolis-based service provider. Gerten said that transactional data such as credit card information and home address is passed through Alvenda’s system and onto Delta’s secure server “within about a nanosecond.” The airliner posted about the tickets-buying feature today on the social site, including the copy: “Note: Information collected here goes to Delta and not Facebook.” On Delta’s Facebook page, the feature is pushed via a “Book a Flight” tab. Viewers who click on the tab are then asked to allow the app to access their basic information, such as name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, and list of friends. After the flyer allows or disallows the inclusion of such information to the flight search process, he arrives at a ticket window directly on the Facebook page. To be clear, the feature doesn’t float in a separate window on top of the page. Tickets shoppers can then enter departure and destination cities and dates before they’re served pricing and travel time options. During the selection process, a Share button appears. If viewers click through, a city-specific version of the following copy will appear in their newsfeed: “I’m using Delta’s Ticket Window to find flights from Lincoln to Newark without leaving Facebook!” That newsfeed post will include a “Book this Trip” button that takes friends who click through directly to the tickets window feature. Meanwhile, the tickets shopper is able to enter in all the standard information (credit card number, e-mail address, security code, frequent flyer code, etc.) required to buy flight tickets online. The same experience will be leveraged in display ads, Skrbec from Delta said. Though the feature would seem to call for a bevy of city-targeted Facebook.com ads for Delta, the spokesperson couldn’t shed light on the airline’s campaign plans. “We do a variety of search engine and paid ad placements,” he said. “Our ad placements are constantly changing depending on where the business demand is.” Skrbec said that Delta was the first airline to offer a direct-purchase Facebook.com feature – a plausible claim since marketing and sales applications on the social site are still at a fairly nascent stage. Given Facebook’s 500 million-plus users, competitors will likely follow.

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