CASE STUDIES .  2 min read

What is it? 

Sir Richard’s newest venture aims to revolutionize the standard hotel model by optimizing the journey rather than solely focusing on optimizing profitability.

Virgin’s strategy for long-term gains is based primarily on investing in the Customer Experience. 

This strategy begins with thoroughly understanding the current landscape and identifying the audience’s points of frustration. Virgin Hotel boldly tackles the things that make staying in hotels dissatisfying – the grievances that travelers have voiced, but previously been powerless to avoid – and tops it off with a charming and intimate product in-line with the Virgin brand ethos.

“Praise the Internet gods, someone has finally gotten it right.” 
- Jo Piazza, Yahoo

A visit to Virgin Hotel makes it delightfully obvious that Virgin set out to eliminate the worst parts of the journey, focusing on the thoughtful details that go a long way in earning love from experienced travelers.

Instead of simply aiming to out-upscale urban hotel competition in extravagant luxuries, trendy dining, spa services and bar scene - which they still manage to do, Virgin Hotel impresses guests in small and surprising human ways. Most notably, the minibar stocked with your personal favorites at street prices, choose-your-own check-in and check-out times, ergonomic headboards customized for laptoping in bed, HDMI to stream your own Netflix, Bluetooth to play your own music, and the eradication of hidden fees for room service and WiFi.

As they put it, “Bandwidth is a right, not a revenue stream.”

We like that.

How is it performing?

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that this could be the future of hotels. It isn’t so much a technical revolution (though that foundation is in place), but one focusing the experience on the customer.”
- Timothy Seppala, Endgadget

Virgin Hotel Chicago is freshly open and earnings have not yet been reported. Early visitors have exalted the unique amenities and published rave reviews about the game-changing Guest Experience they’ve experienced. Virgin Hotel New York, New Orleans, Nashville, and Dallas are underway to open in the coming years.

Why does Green Stone like it?

Being a user-centric Experience & Design firm, we like Virgin’s dedication to its target users. Especially, how it took their needs seriously. The hotel industry was stale and saturated, and Virgin took a stagnant category and reimagined it with Customer Experience as the foremost priority. Instead of aiming to get every penny, they focus on enhancing the present journey for long-term loyalty and profit. A marathon, not a sprint.

The unique pleasures of the Guest Experience demonstrate how well Virgin studied the typical hotel experience and listened to their audience’s frustrations. Elegant, upscale features put forth for design sake alone are something any world traveler has seen before. It is the attention to human detail with a deep understanding of the consumer’s creature comforts that sets Virgin Hotels apart. And in turn, threatens to overthrow the discerning travelers’ hotel industry.

What are the key take-aways?

1. Pick your battles. For example, the minibar: There are other ways to profit beyond fleecing guests at the end of a long day.

2. Start with the frustrations. If you’re trying to reinvent a category, start with points of contention that your target audience shares. Show them that you get it and they will show love in return.

3. Know your audience. Virgin proves that the best path to differentiation in a competitive market is to eschew profit maximization in favor of dedication to Customer Experience. By demonstrating that Virgin Hotels understands its guests’ needs, even before they do, in subtle and stylistic ways, long-lasting connection is formed at the most personal level. 

“My night felt… inviting. It should be something that’s industry standard, but sadly isn’t. Like taking a cross-country flight with Branson’s airborne baby, my stay at Virgin Hotel actually made me look forward to my next visit, not dread it. That’s a future I can get behind.”  
- Timothy Seppala, Endgadget

Source: Virgin HotelsCurbed