The Virgin brand is well-known for its innovative approach, and Virgin Holidays is certainly no exception.
Ever since its founding in 1985, the travel brand has built a reputation for dedication to entrepreneurship and customer service, particularly through its ‘magic touches’, such as the world’s first dedicated airport leisure lounges or the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean.
Consumers voted Virgin Holidays the Best Large Holiday Company to the USA, Canada and the Caribbean for five years running at the prestigious British Travel Awards.
Virgin Holidays has always sought new ways to enhance the travel experience for its customers. One way of doing this is through creating an effective content strategy to guide the customer journey.
To evaluate the brand’s content marketing performance, the Virgin Holidays marketing team conducted a content audit of all the customer touch points. They soon discovered a promising angle where there was room to do things differently, in true Virgin style, with a little help from Brandwatch.
"We realized that, more often than not, we were telling our customers what we thought they should be doing in a destination. After assessing the marketplace we realized this was a common theme for UK tour operators. So we decided there was space to be disruptive. We set ourselves a task of finding a new and engaging way of bringing destination content to our customers."
Virgin Holidays’ search for innovation led to the launch of Virgin’s Trending Travel Guide, the world’s first socially-aggregated travel guide.
This innovative content discovery tool brings together insights from millions of social posts to present audiences with the hottest trending attractions and destinations from around the world.
Brandwatch, with its AI-powered consumer insights platform, is the engine driving the Trending Travel Guide.
To create the guide, Virgin Holidays worked with data-driven agency, Forward3D, who delivered the project using Brandwatch technology.
Harnessing the power of social conversation is no small feat, and one of the main keys to success for Forward3D was picking the right tool for the job.
"The level of insight, ease of use of the platform, consistent approach to product innovation, and the different API offerings made it the obvious choice for us."
As with any complex project, various challenges arose along the way. Luckily, Brandwatch’s support team were always close at hand to guide the implementation process.
“Account managers provided us with all the advice we needed to be sure we were pulling the right data,” added Forward3D’s Jamie Stilgoe.
The Trending Travel Guide offers audiences a compelling experience for discovering new destinations and travel recommendations. It also enhances the Virgin brand’s long-standing reputation for innovation. Jamie recognizes Brandwatch’s customer success team as crucial to the campaign’s success.
"Their support for our innovative use of its data meant that we were able to deliver a world-first for a client and generate media interest in the project."
For a brand as dedicated to innovation as Virgin Holidays, flexibility and creativity are both essential elements when undertaking a disruptive project like the Trending Travel Guide.
"We’ve been very impressed with the flexibility of the technology and team in meeting our requirements. Innovation is never straightforward or easy, and without the team this project would simply not have been possible."
In terms of content marketing strategy, the guide is helping Virgin Holidays in a number of ways. It fulfils the need for effective content further up the marketing funnel, and promising figures are emerging”
- Visitors to the Guide view 14.75% more pages than those browsing other inspiration-editorial content on the Virgin Holidays site
- The average session duration is 75.29% higher when compared to legacy content.
- The Trending Travel Guide won a Drum Award for best Leisure and Travel Strategy at the Digital Advertising Awards Europe
- It’s helping the Virgin Holidays marketing team with meeting its core KPIs, in particular for increasing organic rankings for longer tail search terms
The Trending Travel Guide is now a permanent fixture in the Virgin Holidays marketing arsenal.
As a result of its success, Virgin Holidays is enthusiastic about extending its use of Brandwatch social analytics to drive future campaigns.
The team also plan to introduce an array of new destinations, while continuing to work with data collected through Brandwatch to offer audiences a host of new insights into the latest travel trends.