Session title: How understanding the customer's experience has led to innovative services that encourage more people to fly Virgin.
Joe Ferry, Head of Design at Virgin Atlantic Airways spent 10 minutes talking us through the recent design challenges he's faced during the last few years. Virgin have 7,500 staff, 5,000,000 passengers and 40 aircraft, which is just a fraction of what the other major players have. Joe insists that Virgin Atlantic has no right to exist and the fact that it does and is successful is entirely due to the fact that it is different. What separates Virgin Atlantic according to Joe is service and product—design is at the heart of everything they do.
Despite the collapse in the market in response to September 11th Twin Towers tragedy Virgin undertook a multimillion dollar upgraded the first class seats and experience that launched in April 2002.
Where you sleep is now no longer where the travellers sits. The level of investment required to develop a new seat for the fleet is around £1-2m. Then to roll that out across the fleet is around £100m.
Following a large customer survey, which revealed little more than the fact that people wanted to be able to visit a clean toilet, they also redesigned the Upper Class lounge. In order to ensure that the experience and service level was matching the products Virgin partnered with London's Soho Hotel - the aim to create a real 5 star hotel experience.
Virgin have ensured that the team that worked on the upper class products and service is that same team that works on the experience and products for the other classes. This is to ensure that learnings and elements are reused.