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Intelligence Briefings: Targeting High-Value Customers

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Case study: How Virgin Atlantic discovered the business value of fun

Virgin's 1995-96 Heathrow lounge redesign was triggered by feedback from the sales force and comments from passengers. The airline carried out qualitative and quantitative research to identify the needs of its customers in detail.
The outcome was the new Heathrow lounge or Clubhouse. It was the product of an intensive project with Virgin's design agency and was based on creating zones of interest -- sound, sport, library, virtual reality, bar, massage/beauticians, board games, train-set and the like.

Events are also held -- tastings, fashion shows, merchandising and sampling. Virgin's focus on younger frequent flyers and its willingness to reflect this in the design of the lounge is likely to pay off as this is an area which has been neglected by most other airlines.

A similar approach has been applied to Virgin's in-flight entertainment. It was completely redesigned, challenging airline conventions and imbuing it with Branson values of entrepreneurialism, creativity and service -- "delivering fun on the grimmest business trip" -- but subdivided by the cabin structure of the aircraft.

This resulted in longer viewing times and very high satisfaction ratings. more importantly, research shows a higher proportion of business travellers are choosing to fly Virgin because of the entertainment.

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