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Virgin Holidays

Shaping a conversational commerce strategy

As a member of the well-known Virgin family, for the last 35 years Virgin Holidays has been sending Brits away to play all over the world. From its headquarters near Gatwick airport and retail stores around the UK, this award-winning and much-loved travel brand sells long-haul holidays and cruises over the phone, online and face-to-face.

James Box interviewing stakeholders
Interviewing stakeholders and domain experts
Sticky notes featuring output from a Pains & Gains workshop
Surfacing pains and gains within the existing experience

Branching out

It was becoming more and more obvious to Virgin Holidays that their traditional sales channels were beginning to hold them back. They knew that companies who had expanded their customer service and sales channels were seeing a boost to their NPS scores and revenue. And their own customers were telling them they wanted to be able to interact in more convenient ways - through instant messaging, for example.

But they weren’t sure how this would - or could - work within their current sales and service model. So they turned to us, as a long-term partner, to help them understand the strategy, technology and service design involved in moving to a more omnichannel approach. They wanted a clear sense of the potential challenges and benefits this might bring to both their customers and their business.

Sketched storyboards of new customer journeys

Exploring new and improved customer journeys

A blueprint for change

Over a series of three two-week sprints, we worked with a cross-functional team at Virgin’s head office to turn their questions and ambitions into a clear direction. We designed a strategy for bringing new communications channels - from chatbots and live chat to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger - into their mix for servicing and selling to customers. This clarified the potential for conversational commerce to reduce their customer complaints, increase sales and satisfaction, and make Virgin Holidays a more efficient and cost-effective business. And, importantly, we helped the business understand the implications of these new comms technologies for their culture and ways of working.

Screenshots of a handful of new conversational interface elements

Conversational interface components

The difference we made

With their new conversational commerce strategy in place, the team secured funding to pilot the service and just a few weeks later offered several new channels for communicating with the business: WhatsApp, SMS and enhanced live chat . Powered by Twilio, these channels have given customers more flexibility around how and when they speak to Virgin Holidays. They’ve boosted the confidence of sales and customer service teams, who know they’re working in ways that today’s digital-savvy customers expect. And for Virgin Holidays, they’re important steps on the journey to a bright omnichannel future.

Diagram illustrating how conversational commerce benefits the entire customer experience
Interface elements illustrating the new conversational interactions
Example pages from the customer narratives
Revealing the value of conversational commerce across the entire customer experience through narrative