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Case Study on Virgin Holidays

Learn from this case study of how Virgin Holidays reinvented their customer journey.
Despite a healthy yearly revenue, Virgin Holidays were making measly profits desperately trying to compete with cheap deals from bigger rivals. So rather than aiming at the head, we focused on the heart. With mood enhancing comms that play to key emotional states in the customer’s purchase cycle. The dreaming phase. To ensure that holiday research was never a chore, we gamified inspirational content with quirky competitions and enticing rewards. The anticipation phase. In the holiday buildup, our ready to travel program preparation stress-free with one sort of comms to drain away anxiety then a second stream to fuel the holiday bugs with booking celebrations, live countdowns, even augmented reality weather forecasts. The reminiscing phase.
Upon their return home, we kept up people’s holiday highs with tailored ideas across the 60 day prime rebooking window. Miss you already postcards awaited on doorsteps. Holiday planners efforts were toasted with personalized mugs and recipe emails kept local food memories on simmer. To make each mooding concept as potent as possible, we used cutting edge AI, Phrasee’s machine learning to optimize subject lines, and Adobe campaign to time deliveries to bespoke behavioral triggers. And boy, did we deliver. Engagement rates were through the roof, up to 92% compared to a previous average of 20%.
Survey scores for the ready to travel program were up by 25% to a high of 8.7 out of 10 and NPS were at 47, two points above the company’s target. In fact the end to end customer journey enjoyed a 10% increase in brand loyalty and the more customers engaged, the more Virgin Holiday’s bottom line improved. Upsell increased by 11% for a total of 3.3 million alone. Overall, total incremental revenue from email increased by 58% to generate a whopping 14.5 million pounds. Good moods all around.

Let’s look at an example of how Virgin Media reinvented each step of their customer journey to maximise their profits.

To move away from competing just on price, Virgin analysed the booking cycle over 3 years. Analysing thousands of touchpoints, across multiple channels, they discovered three key mood states to target:

1) The dreaming state: Holiday research; seeking that holiday high.
2) The anticipation state: Pre-travel anxiety and excitement; managing the holiday high.
3) The reminiscing state: The returning home holiday blues; keeping the holiday high.

A series of mood focussed communications were created including a set of emails triggered on behaviour.

Changing the mindset to serve customers’ emotional needs not only hugely enhanced the customer experience but impacted profits, with a 58% increase in email revenue and a 10% jump in loyalty scores.

Let’s now summarise this using the planning framework:

Group / Stage Research phase Pre-holiday phase Post-holiday phase
Descriptive name The dreaming state The anticipation state The reminiscing state
Objective Make research fun Create and keep the holiday anticipation Use the holiday high to generate a 2nd booking
Tactics Games and activity rewards Share function, holiday countdown content, personalised itineraries, airport guides Miss you already postcards, personalised mugs, personalised next, destination ideas
Activity Campaign emails Trigger emails Direct mail
Success measures Open and click of emails, conversion to booked holiday Open and click of emails, conversion for up and cross-sell of holiday extras Conversion of next booking

Join the discussion

Is there anything that you would have done differently had you been involved in Virgin’s campaign? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign? What did you find interesting about it? 

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Introduction to Marketing: Understanding your Customers

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