How creating a helpful experience across the customer journey enabled Virgin Trains to capture a greater share of direct bookings
Virgin Trains, a subsidiary of the well-known global Virgin brand, connects six of the largest cities in the United Kingdom by rail. With a combined population of over 18 million people, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Edinburgh generate considerable demand for convenient, efficient, and affordable train travel.
Although travel by train remains a popular choice in the UK — and Virgin Trains is a leading provider — the company was still missing out on its fair share of direct online ticket revenue due to a dated online search and booking experience.
Service to 6 of the largest cities across UK
£5,949m revenue (2016)
Deliver the Experience People Expect From Virgin and Make it Easy to Book Direct
By creating easy-to-use experiences, third party booking services were taking a disproportionate share of revenue. The challenge for Virgin Trains was to entice people to book directly with them, and do it the Virgin way, to create a branded travel experience that brings out the best of the Virgin brand people know and love. To tackle this challenge, Virgin Trains needed to breathe new life into its digital experience, from branding, look and feel to the crafting of an effortless user experience at every customer touchpoint.
With 37 million visits to its website per year, Virgin Trains recognized an opportunity to better engage their customers by answering a simple question: What opportunities are there to elevate customer expectations across the journey, end to end?
From Station-to Station to Door-to-Door.
Instead of just rebranding a dated online experience, Virgin Trains decided to put the entire journey back in the hands of its customers—to deliver timely information and content that makes their lives easier across the journey, not just helping them buy a ticket.
The solution helped the customer with their end- to- end journey planning, helping them travel from door to door with ease.
It all starts with Journey Planner, a new and personalized travel assistant that helps customers plan entire journeys with an interactive itinerary, including integrated 360º station maps, live weather updates, and real-time delay notifications—all from their mobile phones. It’s an on-the-go experience designed for the on-the-go customer.
To make booking simple, Virgin Trains worked with the MullenLowe Profero team to bring together 25 different data sources and API’s, re-platforming the website experience to deliver a simple and seamless customer journey.
Integrated 25 data sources and API's to create a seamless booking experience
Launched Journey Planner, a personal travel assistant
Integrated 360º station maps, live weather updates, and delay notification
Brought the brand experience with the Virgin Brand promise
A Door-to-Door Experience Customers Benefit From
The Virgin Trains experience now extends beyond just booking and day of travel. The 360º experience delivers useful information before, during and after the route, giving customers a more valuable experience.
Since launching the new site, traffic to the Virgin Trains website is up 40%, including a 17% decrease in mobile bounce rate. This noticeable gain in engagement—specifically by mobile users—has translated to a monthly revenue increase of £450k.
More importantly, the new Virgin Trains digital experience puts customer expectations front and center. As a result, the company is poised to continue regaining direct booking traffic previously won by third-party providers.
increase in website traffic
decrease in mobile bounce rate
increase in monthly revenue