Virgin Atlantic makes travel experiences more personal

Personalized experiences help Virgin Atlantic become the most-loved travel company.

logo

70%

increase in marketing channel visibility

50%

of acquisition target achieved in first fully integrated campaign    

checkbox icon

Objectives

Integrate and automate customer data within product capabilities

Break silos among specialized teams

Enable consistent end-to-end customer experiences

Increase personalization across multiple touchpoints

graph icon

Results

Delivers personalized campaigns at various stages in the customer travel journey

Increase in asset testing and utilization of test performance data

70% increase in marketing channel visibility

Achieved 50% of acquisition target in first fully integrated campaign

Builds brand loyalty among Flying Club members


“At the moment, we're talking to Adobe Customer Solutions around competitor and forward-looking analysis on digital strategy. To make sure we're staying on top of changes in the digital technology, we have to make sure we're providing the right touchpoints for our customers. We're working with Adobe to solve those questions. ”

 
Neil Letchford

Head of Digital Enterprise at Virgin Atlantic


Red on the inside and outside

As the Head of Digital Enterprise at Virgin Atlantic, it’s no surprise that Neil Letchford flies on the airline quite often. He’s mostly successful at keeping a low profile. Sometimes, though, he runs into travelers who recognize him. Or maybe it’s the ID lanyard he’s left on by accident in the security line.

 

Neil had one such moment with two passengers flying to Manchester. Describing it, he says, “I immediately turned on that brand ambassador role. I knew the type of aircraft they were flying on, the 747. I could talk to them about the experience they were going to have.”

 

After a discussion about Virgin Atlantic’s new aircraft, the long-time passengers let Neil off easy for his not-so-subtle brand loyalty.

 

This is what Steven Radford, the Digital Operations Manager at Virgin Atlantic, calls “being red on the inside, red on the outside.” Red on the inside means aligning values around how to better benefit their customers. Red on the outside means making sure customers receive the experience they’ve come to expect from Virgin Atlantic. Whether it’s interacting through the website, in person at the airport, or in-flight, that experience should feel personal.

 

To make this a reality, Virgin Atlantic needed to rethink their digital strategy. The small teams working on product capabilities needed to integrate and automate their customer data. Breaking these silos would give their customers a seamless experience. As Neil explains this vision: “We want to build that experience across the entire user journey. We want to build ourselves fully end-to-end and become

the most-loved travel company.”

Flair to do differently

Virgin Atlantic has always been different. They were the first airline to offer a premium economy seat, and to serve ice cream in-flight. It’s the vision that Richard Branson started, and continues today with innovation in that same spirit.

 

Now it’s achieved through personalized customer experiences. It’s the extra sparkle of having customer’s favorite drink ready for them as they board. It’s recognizing customers who have flown with Virgin Atlantic before to build loyalty with Red, Silver, and Gold Flying Club members.

 

Steven explains that this experience should start on their website: “Our ultimate goal is that everyone sees a unique homepage that no one else would see. Making our customers feel unique and valued. That’s what’s going to make us stand out as a brand. That’s the Virgin Atlantic way.”

 

Virgin Atlantic wanted to create unique personalized experiences, but they needed some guidance. They looked to Adobe as a partner with shared values. As Steven says, “We needed that Adobe flair, to improve, to enhance, to make things better, and to allow us to move at the speed we want to move.”

Flight path to success

Virgin Atlantic relies on Adobe’s knowledge of the products inside and out. When it came to optimizing relevant offers in Adobe Target, it was no different. Dan Rolmanis, an Optimization Manager whose teams are dedicated to the end-to-end customer journey, explains: “There’s a library of knowledge at Adobe we’ve been able to tap into. We’ve been able to target customers that we wouldn’t usually be able to in a specific way.”  Take a Red Flight Club member who shows interest in New York. They receive travel information to turn trip ideas into confirmation details.

 

Adobe offers enabled know-how around targeting the right customers. Now, Virgin Atlantic also needs to test that their campaigns.

They need to deliver “Red Love,” as Neil describes is the personality behind the brand.

 

The Ready to Fly campaign does just that. Virgin Atlantic offers personalized experiences to passengers at different frequencies before they fly. A customer flying in three months gets reminders to check their passport or visa status. Someone traveling in 24 hours receives information on their terminal and flight status. They also get opportunities to upgrade their flight, enhance a meal, or book a limo from the airport.

 

This level of personalization is a result of Adobe expertise. To manage customer journeys, Adobe guided the integration of Adobe Target and Adobe Campaign. Tom Nowell, the CRM Enablement Manager, says about this partnership: “Being able to lean on Adobe Customer Solution makes it so we can become self-sufficient. We take the knowledge and learnings they offer us, but then expand ourselves as

individuals in our day-to-day operations.”

Support in the seatback pocket

Virgin Atlantic tests everything with Adobe Audience Manager before putting campaigns into development. For now, Adobe is there to help optimize the runway to efficient, accurate reporting. Training sessions give best practices around how to navigate the different capabilities. Eventually, Virgin Atlantic will gain the confidence to do it themselves.

 

With support from Adobe, they’re on their way. As Dan explains in a recent milestone in adoption: “The other day someone asked me, how did that test perform? Because I’m just about to do a design on this page, and I need to know how it performed in Adobe Target first. It’s those little milestones that are as good as any kind of data that we can get out of the test: it’s people saying that they’re using our reporting.”

 

Virgin Atlantic is also learning how to measure their marketing efforts. An issue on the website wouldn’t align data to customer bookings. As a result, Virgin Atlantic couldn’t see their true marketing ROI. That was stalling their investment in pay-per-click experiences. Adobe consultants performed a full-site analysis to uncover the problem areas. Virgin Atlantic’s marketing channel data wasn’t properly tracking activity that led to customer clicks. Collaborating with third party vendors, Adobe increased Virgin Atlantic’s marketing channel visibility by 70%.

 

Adobe also enables Virgin Atlantic around better day-to-day analysis and reporting performance. Challenges around data sharing and organization made insights hard for teams to use. Now, Weekly regional and global performance dashboards are automatically sent out. “Adobe's consulting made an immediate impact. They are driving not only teams at Virgin Atlantic, but also our third-party suppliers.

 

They’re configuring Analytics and fixing a number of issues we have,” says Neil, “The consultants’ knowledge, proactiveness, and

communication has been a great advert for Adobe Customer Solutions.”

In-flight integration

Virgin Atlantic continues to grow their digital journey. Adobe has the expertise to set ideas into action. When integrating the Adobe ecosystem, the product knowledge of the Adobe team has made the difference. “We knew it was possible, we just didn’t know the buttons and levers we needed to pull to make that happen. We engaged heavily with the Adobe Customer Solutions team to help us achieve that goal and connectivity,” says Steven.

 

This hands-on relationship with Adobe helps Virgin Atlantic deliver personalized experiences faster. An example is when Virgin Atlantic first started building their new managed platform. Their images were slow to load and optimize, and it was creating a lag in their productivity. “Adobe created a brand-new workflow that resolved the issue quickly,” says Steven, “They know the platform better than we do. That helps us be more and more efficient every day.”

 

Integrating their full Adobe ecosystem gave Virgin Atlantic new, holistic insights. Now they have a view of the full lifecycle of the customer journey. They are able to track engagement and deliver the right message to their customers at the right time. This was especially helpful in their Virgin Money credit card campaign. Tom says, “This was the first fully integrated campaign using each of the Adobe products. The Adobe team is very supportive in pointing us in the right direction, but also in making sure we’re working in a very innovative way.”

 

Customers reacted positively to that innovation. During the initial campaign period, Virgin Atlantic achieved 50% of their acquisition target. That’s more customers reached through more personalized touchpoints.

From booked to baggage claim

The future for Virgin Atlantic is making the personal automatic for their customers. A Red Flying Club member might not fly very often but has a lot of points. Their offer will give them the best experience around how to earn those points. For a Gold member who flies quite often, the experience could be tailored to what their next flight will look like.

 

“At the moment, we’re talking to Adobe Customer Solutions around competitor and forward-looking analysis on digital strategy,” says Neil, “To make sure we’re staying on top of changes in digital technology, we have to make sure we’re providing the right touchpoints for our customers. We’re working with Adobe to solve those questions.”

 

Virgin Atlantic now has frequent communication with Adobe. It keeps them honest about their development roadmap and encourages them to innovate what’s next for personalized experiences. “The Adobe team is almost red on the inside and red on the outside themselves,” says Steven, “They really understand where we’re trying to go.”

Recommended for you