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Virgin America builds brand love

News, 16 September 2015

NEW YORK: Virgin America is seeking to disrupt domestic airline travel in the US by "building a brand people love" and putting the "fun" back into flying.

Sylvie Charbonnier, the organisation's head/partnerships, drilled down into this subject during the "Marketing Nation Online" virtual event convened by Marketo.

And she reported that the upstart carrier – which launched in 2007, backed by Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group – was fighting against a perceived decline in quality when discussing air travel within America.

"The US skies have always been a commodity to fly; we've always had airlines that people use to take as buses – not for the experience, but for the commodity of it," she said. (For more, including tips for building loyalty, read Warc's exclusive report: How Virgin America built a loveable brand.)

In response, Branson laid out an objective to "create an airline that people love" – a goal to be achieved, in large part, by "making airline travel a great experience".

Continued Charbonnier, "Virgin America … is a company that was created with a mission: to build the future of the airline industry, and reinvent, really, airline travel."

The San Francisco-based firm has thus added various distinct features to its planes, like mood lighting and leather seats in the main cabin and on-demand ordering for food and beverages.

Some of its other main features include fleet-wide WiFi, putting Virgin America ahead of many legacy carriers, which are updating ageing fleets over an extended period of time, as well as a tool for sending direct messages "seat-to-seat".

"We've shaken up the entire industry, and we made flying fun again," said Charbonnier.

More specifically, she suggested that listening to the common pain points experienced by travellers before Virgin America launched helped build its initial proposition – and it has carried on responding to their evolving needs ever since.

"Listening to the guests: that's the number one key factor to making our brand successful," said Charbonnier. "They inspire our brand."

Data sourced from Warc