Virgin Hotels has just one hotel online—The Virgin Chicago—which opened in early 2015. So its digital marketing has been a study in focus.
Yet not for long. The U.S.-based lodging brand spawned from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is planning to open at least four more hotels in the coming years in New York, Nashville, Palm Springs, and Dallas.
Like other Virgin Group companies formed under Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit (from Virgin Atlantic to Virgin Galactic), Virgin Hotels has hoped to disrupt the hospitality industry’s usual mode of business.
For example, just before the Chicago opening, Virgin Hotels put on a guerilla marketing scheme that involved parking a Virgin-wrapped minivan that advertised free wifi in front of competitor hotels that charged for wifi. It also posted an unconventional-for-the-industry promo video.
Virgin touts its “chamber” room concept, which involves a sliding door between the bed and the vanity, mini-bar snacks at “street prices,” its ergonomic, custom-built beds, its in-room personal assistant “Lucy”, and its on-site events, as just a few other ways it is doing things differently as a hotel brand.
Yet when it comes to digital marketing, Virgin Hotels’ strategy is as multi-layered as any other hotel’s these days, with a focus on driving on direct bookings.
“Our number-one goal is to drive people to our website and increase direct bookings,” said Doug Carillo, vice president of sales and marketing for Virgin Hotels. “Not just because it’s a higher profitable distribution channel but it helps us control the consumer experience a lot better than a third party.”
To do this, Virgin invested in a responsive design that makes navigating its website on mobile devices easy, while retaining a striking visual look, as opposed to a default mobile template.