How Virgin Atlantic innovates in the inbox to stay ahead of the airline pack

Key results at a glance: 

11.4% – average open rate uplift

15.7% – average click rate uplift

89% – click rate uplift on a single Virgin Atlantic campaign

“Working with Phrasee leads to a lot more people flying with us.”

– Charlotte Pink, Campaign Executive, Virgin Atlantic

How customer service champions Virgin Atlantic have embraced AI-powered content

Virgin Atlantic has a history of shaking things up, ever since it first arrived on the airline scene. From its bright red cabin crew uniforms and its exotic destinations to its innovative products and services, the brand stood out amidst a sea of legacy airlines.

The personality and language of Virgin Atlantic have always played a major role in the brand’s success and inspiring people to fly. In the early days, Virgin Atlantic had a distinctive tone of voice and used radical language to get attention. Remember “Play with yourself”, anyone? This was an advertisement to promote the first seatback games. Cheeky!

Fast forward to today and Virgin Atlantic is no longer the tiny airline up against the Goliaths of airline travel. But its quirky and distinctive brand voice remains a vital part of engaging customers.

When Virgin Atlantic was looking for new ways to enhance customer experiences and push its marketing to new heights, it looked to Phrasee. Following the success that its sister brand Virgin Holidays had with Phrasee, Virgin Atlantic decided to challenge marketing norms with AI-powered content to boost results.

Still pushing marketing boundaries 30 years later

Virgin Atlantic had already seen above-average open rates with its email channel, but the brand wanted to exceed expectations.

The travel industry is notoriously competitive.

Virgin Atlantic Head of Customer Experience Mark Croucher says, “People can choose a number of ways to get to their destinations – but the difference with Virgin Atlantic is that we don’t make it about getting from A to B, it’s about the Virgin experience from first opening an email, to getting ready for take-off. Remaining competitive to us is all about staying true to our brand values and offering unbelievable customer service no matter where you sit on the plane.”

Operating in a climate with low-cost carriers and the increasing commoditization of long-haul travel, Virgin Atlantic wanted to expand its offering to a younger, more price-sensitive generation. The airline also wanted to open up new routes in the Caribbean to customers and connect with audiences in a personal way.

As Mark reveals, “We put our customers at the heart of all our marketing – how can we make the experience feel individual to them?”

In a bid to gain new market territory and engage with customers in its unique way, the team used Phrasee’s Brand Language Optimization to test if improvements could be made.

“This has led to Phrasee’s technology learning to adapt to Virgin Atlantic’s brand tone of voice in a way we never thought was possible. By working with Phrasee, we were able to optimize open rates on a more consistent and continuous basis.”

Charlotte Pink, Campaign Executive, Virgin Atlantic

Channeling Virgin Atlantic’s unique brand voice with AI-optimized content

Always looking for new ways to surprise and delight its customers, Virgin Atlantic recognizes the importance of its messaging in exciting customers.

The Virgin Atlantic team found that Phrasee’s AI-generated content could understand and execute the brand’s quirky and distinctive voice in ways better than they could have imagined.

Phrasee worked with Virgin Atlantic to create marketing messages tailored to Virgin Atlantic’s brand tone of voice, with consistent feedback from the Virgin Atlantic team.

“This has led to Phrasee’s technology learning to adapt to Virgin Atlantic’s brand tone of voice in a way we never thought was possible. By working with Phrasee, we were able to optimize open rates on a more consistent and continuous basis,” says Charlotte Pink, Campaign Executive.

And it’s this consistency that forms part of Virgin Atlantic’s secret sauce of exceptional customer experience.

Flying high with results for the Virgin family

Phrasee played a key role in Virgin Atlantic’s email marketing campaigns, making sure as many people as possible opened its emails.

The results? Using Phrasee has led to an 11.4% average open uplift and 15.7% average click-through rate uplift for Virgin Atlantic. For one single campaign, Virgin Atlantic saw a click uplift as high as 89%.

As Charlotte says, working with Phrasee “leads to a lot more people flying with us.”

Virgin Atlantic now uses Phrasee for its monthly newsletter, for announcing new routes like Tel Aviv, and for communications about new product launches such as the A350.

And despite having very different brand identities and talking to different customers, both Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic have seen incredible successes with Phrasee.

Phrasee is optimizing language for audiences with every email send, helping the Virgin family of brands take customer obsession to a new, improved, and outstanding level.

Find out how global brands are using AI-powered content