How did Virgin Atlantic come to seek nonstopConsulting’s assistance?
Virgin Atlantic flies to over 30 destinations worldwide including New York, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, San Francisco & Los Angeles, Delhi, Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai, Lagos and Nairobi as well as many Caribbean destinations. As a global brand, Virgin Atlantic were looking for an affiliate specialist that could provide a global solution to centrally manage current and future programmes and allow for geographical scalability as required. nonstopConsulting demonstrated it had the international reach, travel sector expertise and technical ability to meet these requirements.
What sort of work has nonstopConsulting done with Virgin Atlantic since you’ve both joined forces?
Following a strategic review of the Virgin Atlantic programme, it has been developed in a number of areas. Geographically it has extended to include several key European countries and several qualitative aspects of the programme have been addressed. Affiliate engagement has been a core focus, with communications being overhauled, an affiliate day and new incentives being deployed at key periods to keep Virgin Atlantic front of mind. Affiliates are included in as many aspects of the brand activity as is possible and are sent regular information on everything from cabin upgrades to destination information. There has also been a greater focus on the development of key partnerships, as well as significant time invested in developing new publishers.
How has Virgin Atlantic gone about making its mark on the industry?
One of the key aims for Virgin Atlantic is to turn their affiliate program into something different and innovative and create an out of the norm affiliate program. With this in mind, we have created a strategy that focuses on understanding our affiliate base and the needs of each of our affiliate categories. We have created bespoke and individual campaigns with affiliates to ensure we treat them as part of our wider team and help them to engage with their own audience. This is a strategy that has proved very successful and has brought us closer to our affiliates as a brand. We feel that this is a winning strategy and hope to be recognised through some of the industry awards
How does it remain competitive and different from other airline brands?
"Your airline's either got it or it hasn't" is a reflection of the Virgin Atlantic experience. We differentiate ourselves through superior customer experience at every stage of their journey from making a booking through to arriving at their destination. On all routes Virgin Atlantic has invested heavily to ensure this experience is delivered for Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy passengers. The same philosophy applies to all aspects of our marketing activity including the affiliate programme. We are always interested in talking to individual affiliates about new and innovative ideas that can enhance the programme – please contact nonstopConsulting if you have an idea you would like to develop.
Has Virgin Atlantic encountered any issues? If so, how did nonstopConsulting work with it to solve them?
Inevitably there are challenges to be overcome and nonstopConsulting and Virgin Atlantic have been working to systematically address them on a number of levels. A good example of this was API access, which was a problem for many affiliates due to compatibility issues. nonstopConsulting’s API management tool has granted access and control to more affiliates both via the networks and directly.
What does the future hold for Virgin Atlantic and nonstopConsulting's relationship?
The external environment is providing tough trading conditions for all players in the travel sector, and airlines are no exception. Virgin Atlantic and nonstopConsulting will continue to work together to develop a unique programme that affiliates enjoy and want to be part of. 2012 will see the programme develop in its global perspective, to support and match the Virgin Atlantic global network, deploying affiliates accordingly within the overall channel strategy. This will ensure that affiliate marketing remains one of the key channels for driving international sales and reinforcing Virgin Atlantic’s brand positioning as the UK's leading long haul carrier.
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