Phrasee’s innovative AI takes Virgin Holidays’ email marketing to new heights


There’s no question that Virgin Holidays puts its customers and the communities it works with at the heart of its commitment to do things differently. But something was missing in delivering that same magic to communities in its online space. With big plans to overhaul its online user experience, and grow digital sales, the Virgin Holidays team immediately looked to industry experts at Phrasee to help build and execute on a grand scale…

“Phrasee’s AI has increased our email revenue by a few million pounds! Calling Phrasee’s product “awesome” doesn’t quite do it justice!”

Saul Lopes, Customer Lifecycle lead,Virgin Holidays

The UK’s favourite worldwide holiday company, Virgin Holidays, has been shaking up the travel market of late and we know one of their big secrets. (Psst! It’s Phrasee’s AI for subject lines.)

Founded in 1985 on the Virgin principles of excellent customer service, value, reliability, responsibility and a sense of fun, Virgin Holidays has used its entrepreneurial heritage and passion for innovation to benefit customers and communities around the world.

We all know and love the brand for the ‘magic touches’ it has brought to market, like introducing the world’s first dedicated departure beach (phwoar, plush). It’s these small touches that contribute to it being voted Best Large Holiday Company to the USA, Canada and the Caribbean in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year at the prestigious consumer-voted, British Travel Awards.

There’s no question that Virgin Holidays puts its customers and the communities it works with at the heart of its commitment to doing things differently. But something was missing in delivering that same magic to communities in its online space. With big plans to overhaul its online user experience, and grow digital sales to 50% of revenue by 2020, the Virgin Holidays team immediately looked to industry experts to help build and execute on a grand scale.

Customer Lifecycle Lead at Virgin Holidays, Saul Lopes, explains that there wasn’t a testing culture within the business before he started. “We didn’t have the time, resources or technology to really optimize our customer experience”. This is a common problem that most marketers face – how can “we” make the customer experience feel unique, while struggling with internal pressures?

For a travel brand seeking sunny new digital destinations, effective marketing is jet fuel. With quirky, innovative branding and solid customer relationships in the cockpit, Virgin Holidays is no stranger to understanding what it takes to stay ahead of the curve. With a focus on becoming an omni-channel business, offering a seamless customer experience from “look to book”, the Virgin Holidays team looked to invest in innovative technology, such as AI marketing solutions, across several of its digital channels. Some might say (we would say) Virgin Holidays started using AI before it was cool.

Lopes chose Phrasee, along with partners like Adobe and Movable Ink, to begin blazing the trail. And that was in 2015… How have the results been? Pretty awesome!

Over the past few years Phrasee has increased Virgin Holidays email open rates by 2 percentage points, and that 2 percentage points of incremental open uplift has generated several million pounds in revenue from their email marketing channel.

Dare we say it again? Several. Million. Pounds. Impressive, even if we do say so ourselves.

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