Virgin Holidays reveals why personalisation is the key to your omnichannel strategy
by Maria Mihajlovic
Posted on 09-03-2018
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.
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.
Topics: Digital Transformation, Customer Experience Management, customer journey, customer journey map, customer management system, email marketing best practices, omnichannel, Omnichannel Retailing, unified communications, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA