Comment: Virgin joins the revolution

Comment: Virgin joins the revolution

I doubt there are many retail travel agencies that can say they are not focused on selling as many holidays as they can in a day.

But that’s exactly the approach Virgin Holidays is taking with its v-room stores, which are opening in eight key locations across the UK.

Demanding sales targets have been replaced by softer measures of success, such as increased footfall, improved customer engagement and widened consumer knowledge about the Virgin Holidays brand.

And it’s not all about packing the store with the latest technology. Instead, a free bar, concierge service and even scented air conditioning provide an immersive experience.

It’s yet another example of a high street retail revolution which not just Virgin, but brands such as Kuoni, STA Travel, Tui and Thomas Cook, are responding to.

Technology giant Apple is often held up as the greatest exponent of this approach, and this has not gone unnoticed in travel.

At its heart is the idea that the retail store is not in a fight to the death with the web, but can operate in a mutually beneficial way.

Tui first mooted this more rounded approach years ago under Kuoni UK boss Derek Jones, pointing to B&Q’s strategy of allocating web sales to stores based on postcodes.

Kuoni has since ditched its web discount and invested in its retail presence, reassuring customers they can get the best deal regardless of how they book.

The good news for travel agents is this modernisation of high street retailing is leading to the creation of exciting roles. The challenge is that they will need to develop new skills – possibly including rustling up the odd cocktail!

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