Virgin waits for boutique brand to bed down

Virgin Holidays is planning to make its newly launched transactional in time.

The concept, which was launched earlier this week, brings together Virgin Holidays with Hip Hotels boutique properties as well as a selection of the operators existing properties that fit the brand.

Virgin Holidays general manager direct sales and e-business Chris Roe said: “Longer term we will be moving it to transactional but initially we want to get an idea of their needs.”

Currently consumers will contact ‘Travel Gurus’ via the site, which the operator has been developing for the past six months.

Roe said the service had been set up to target high-end customers, aged between 35 and 55, living in key cities and the South-east and with an income of at least £50,000.

“One of our customer segments is ‘top of the pile’ and HIP’s customers are top of the pile so they have a need for a bit of a different service. They are cash-rich and time-poor and we looked at the customer journey to see how they like to buy their holidays.”

A separate call centre has been set up in Brighton to look after vhiphotels customers and the plan is to recruit up to 30 people, including niche destination specialists, for the business.

The new service is to be marketed in national press and specialist publications in London’s square mile.

Roe said that search engine optimisation as well as pay-per-click activity has already begun and that the site has its own marketing budget.

He added that the operator was also hoping to offer the service through a selected number of traditional travel agents who ‘have access to this kind of customer.’

Customers buying holidays under vhiphotels will be covered by the operator’s existing ATOL.

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