Delta representatives named this year’s winners of the Delta Air Lines Mid-Semester Module International Travel Competition. Winning students pictured: Louis Wolff, Marine Harris, Taylor Richardson and Sakinah Watts

“How can Delta Air Lines best communicate its various community-based and socially responsible efforts in a way that would resonate with millennial travelers?”

That is the question Full-Time MBA students were challenged to answer as part of the third annual Delta Air Lines Mid-Semester Module International Travel Competition. This year’s presentations focused on Delta’s corporate social responsibility efforts.

Delta and Goizueta launched the creative, interactive competition as a way to consider company-student engagement and encourage meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships. Students were asked to submit a short essay in response to the question posed by Delta. From those submissions, 12 finalists were chosen.

The finalists presented to Delta executives on November 2, with four winners selected to receive $1000 in travel vouchers on Delta Air Lines.  The vouchers can be used for any type of travel, including the students’ mid-semester travel modules which take place every spring.

Representing Delta at the competition were Tad Hutcheson, managing director of community engagement; Julieta McCurry, managing director of marketing and communications; Karla Zientwoski, general manager of marketing, customer engagement and experience and Sarah Honeyman, general manager, East region and focus cities marketing communications.

“Millennials don’t exist inside a box, and neither should corporate social responsibility,” said Marnie Harris 20MBA, one of the four winners. Harris recommended that Delta use everyday communications to show millennial travelers that “by flying Delta, they are saving the world.” The travel voucher will be useful to Harris, who has two international trips scheduled for 2019. Harris will be traveling to Uganda in January to work alongside the Kyaninga Child Development Centre, and to Guatemala in March with Social Enterprise at Goizueta to help specialty coffee growers increase the financial sustainability of their operations.

In his pitch, winner Louis Wolff 19MBA recommended that Delta “double down” on its corporate social responsibility efforts, using consistent and modest messaging to put its values first. “What truly resonates with consumers is when a company simply lives its values,” he said. Wolff, a participant in the Delta Leadership Coaching Fellows program, will use the travel voucher to attend the program’s culminative experience in St. Thomas.

Competition finalists and representatives from Delta

“A successful brand ambassador program should start by looking within Delta’s current passenger base and giving its most engaged passengers an official way to get involved with their brand,” suggested winner Taylor Richardson 20MBA during her pitch for an ambassador program that would promote social impact initiatives in return for SkyMiles. Richardson is traveling to India for her mid-semester module and will use the voucher to offset travel costs.  

While documenting a recent trip to Italy, Sakinah Watts 19MBA was reminded of the power social media has to transport an audience to another time and place. Watts decided to make social media a key component of her winning presentation, which focused on how Delta can “Go Beyond” the information in its annual Corporate Responsibility Report to humanize and profile the many members of the global community who help push Delta’s initiatives forward. Watts will be studying finance at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina this winter and will use the voucher to supplement her travel.

The four winners will also get to present to Delta executives at its headquarters after returning from their mid-semester modules. For an inside look at the international experiences of last year’s winners, read their travel diaries.

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Kaylyssa Quinn
Kaylyssa Quinn is a former communications specialist at Emory University Goizueta Business School.