Virgin Holidays reveals why personalisation is the key to your omnichannel strategy

Customer SuccessDigital Marketing

Vir­gin Hol­i­days is one of the UK’s favourite hol­i­day com­pa­nies, known for bring­ing the Vir­gin Group’s unique per­son­al­i­ty and flair to the trav­el expe­ri­ence. But the way peo­ple book trav­el has changed tremen­dous­ly in recent years.

We now spend hours research­ing hotel com­par­i­son sites, blogs, restau­rant reviews and Insta­gram accounts while plan­ning a trip. Some even argue this process has become as excit­ing as the trip itself.

The chal­lenge for Vir­gin Hol­i­days was to adapt its sales jour­ney to a less lin­ear form of hol­i­day plan­ning, which required a more inte­grat­ed way of work­ing. The company’s pre­vi­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions were designed for the tra­di­tion­al cus­tomer jour­ney, mak­ing them too frag­ment­ed for an audi­ence that wants greater choice at every stage of the process and uses a range of dig­i­tal chan­nels.

The big change came when Vir­gin Hol­i­days cen­tralised all of its com­mu­ni­ca­tions and data onto a sin­gle plat­form, Adobe Cam­paign.

This allowed it to map the entire cus­tomer jour­ney and orches­trate a flu­id omnichan­nel expe­ri­ence across email, mobile, direct mail, and out­bound inter­ac­tions.

The First Cam­paign

The first cam­paign Vir­gin Hol­i­days con­duct­ed after its trans­for­ma­tion was a huge test, but one that paid off. On Jan­u­ary 2017, the com­pa­ny rolled out a series of per­son­alised email expe­ri­ences packed with con­tent to help each of its cus­tomers get over their post-hol­i­day blues.

The sim­ple com­bi­na­tion of tim­ing and rel­e­vance had peo­ple swarm­ing to book their next hol­i­day. Web traf­fic jumped 33%, mar­gins rose 37% and aware­ness explod­ed by 66%.

The results spoke for them­selves and the Vir­gin Hol­i­days mar­ket­ing team swift­ly got sign off to fur­ther invest in a uni­fied and per­son­alised dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence.

 Per­son­al­i­sa­tion is the key

What this teach­es us is that a per­son­alised expe­ri­ence is the secret to win­ning cus­tomers over, as obvi­ous as that may sound. Rough­ly 50% of peo­ple are more like­ly to con­sid­er per­son­alised offers when mak­ing a pur­chas­ing deci­sion.

Fre­quent trav­ellers are even more dis­cern­ing, with 85% expect­ing brands to under­stand and antic­i­pate their needs.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion is also cru­cial if you want to avoid turn­ing cus­tomers off. We all receive too many emails and have no patience for irrel­e­vant ones. It’s no won­der 65% of peo­ple feel numb to adver­tis­ing in the absence of a per­son­alised cam­paign expe­ri­ence.

Too often, the issue aris­es when dif­fer­ent teams work in silos, unable to share knowl­edge eas­i­ly in the inter­est of deliv­er­ing a more uni­fied cus­tomer jour­ney.

For its part, Vir­gin Hol­i­days pre­vi­ous­ly used three dif­fer­ent email sys­tems, which meant each team had its own view of cus­tomers based on its lim­it­ed view of each person’s data. More than ten depart­ments were con­tact­ing cus­tomers in dif­fer­ent ways, inevitably result­ing in con­fu­sion and aggra­va­tion.

With Adobe Cam­paign, Vir­gin Hol­i­days was able to redesign its cus­tomer data­base from the ground up, allow­ing it to han­dle seg­men­ta­tion, per­son­al­i­sa­tion and emails using just one tool. As a result, it can now cre­ate entire cam­paigns from end to end with­in a sin­gle work­flow.

Here are four more take­aways from Vir­gin Hol­i­days and its dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney:

  • Sim­ple design changes can have a major impact: the most com­mon (and time-con­sum­ing) calls field­ed by the Vir­gin Hol­i­days ser­vice team were con­sis­tent­ly from cus­tomers who could not find their book­ing ref­er­ence num­ber. By sim­ply includ­ing this in the head­er of all its com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Vir­gin Hol­i­days drove up cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and freed up its ser­vice team to focus on issues that are more com­plex.
  • Rel­e­vant con­tent adds val­ue: once cus­tomers had booked a trip, Vir­gin Hol­i­days began send­ing them bespoke des­ti­na­tion teasers and air­port guides, putting all the infor­ma­tion they might need for an easy trip at their fin­ger­tips. Adobe Cam­paign helped ensure cus­tomers received the right com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the right time.
  • You can do more with less: Vir­gin Hol­i­days rolls out over 300 cam­paigns per year, all dri­ven by a team of just four peo­ple. That means it needs to be agile and quick to deliv­er fun and time­ly com­mu­ni­ca­tions at scale. Adobe Cam­paign is also help­ing in this regard, dri­ving up engage­ment rates 10-fold, increas­ing pre-depar­ture scores by 5%, and improv­ing upsell per book­ing by 11%
  • Get buy-in and build for the long-term. Vir­gin Hol­i­days secured buy-in from across its busi­ness from the start, even mak­ing a video to help all poten­tial users and stake­hold­ers under­stand their objec­tives and con­tribute to the project’s suc­cess from day one. With the entire com­pa­ny on board, Vir­gin Hol­i­days was then able to com­mit to a three-year part­ner­ship with Adobe to see its goals through.

For more about how Vir­gin Hol­i­days and oth­er brands are adapt­ing to a dig­i­tal audi­ence and become expe­ri­ence-dri­ven, vis­it our Expe­ri­ence Mak­ers web­page.

And if you’re plan­ning to attend DMEXCO this year, drop by our stand (Hall 6 / A011 – B016), to learn about the lat­est tech­nolo­gies from Adobe and how these are fuelling dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tions for some of the world’s most respect­ed brands.


Customer Success, Digital Marketing
Maria Mihajlovic

Posted on 03-09-2018


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