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virgin hotel hospitality customer experience by engine

Defining Virgin Hotels Guest Experience Vision

Defining the guest experience for the first Virgin Hotel

The challenge

As a new entrant into to a highly competitive marketplace, Virgin’s latest target for disruption was the mid-market business hotel. How could they find a way to subvert the category and make it distinctly Virgin?

The outcomes

The Engine Service Deisgn Team developed a unique guest experience vision and set of services and experiences, for Virgin Hotel to inform the investment decision.
This vision was underpinned by what travellers really hated about staying in hotels and developing innovative ways to address these issues, through the provision of an exceptional and differentiated guest experience.

Client: Virgin Hotels Duration: 10 weeks Hospitality | Property Duration:

Virgin needed to find ways to inject their brand personality into the hotel business, offering a unique guest experience that would keep people coming back.

virgin hotel hospitality customer experience by engine 02

Being brilliant by uncovering what’s ‘un-brilliant’
The first step for the Engine Service Design team was helping Virgin understand the needs and behaviours of their target guests, and how we might encourage repeat stays. Based on this, we developed three overarching ideas that the hotel experience would be built upon: Community and Membership; Personalisation and Seamlessness; Fun and Irreverence. We also wanted to address all those little things in hotel stays that didn’t work well and, if fixed, could make a huge difference.

Exclusively for Everyone
We then set about designing the concepts that would deliver these three big ideas throughout the guest experience and across different customer journeys. From a couple staying for a long weekend, to first time and repeat guests; working closely with Virgin Hotels Executive team we developed signature services for Virgin Hotels, the things that would become synonymous with the brand and would keep people coming back.

Technology enabled hospitality
Our service design approach developed a guest experience that brings together the small and big ideas to create a uniquely Virgin guest experience; Staff are trained to be able to give local tips and knowledge at the drop of a hat and technology allows customers to interact with their hotel via their smartphone and an in-room personal assistant. This includes booking your favourite room with one click, controlling the TV or the air conditioning or making easy reservations.

“Branson’s Virgin Group is trying to give business travellers an alternative to large impersonal hotels.”

Growing steadily after the success of the first hotel in Chicago, Virgin Hotels continues to expand and win awards for all aspects of its unique guest experience.


“In classic Virgin style, their hotel experience takes the assumed ordinary details and makes them something extraordinary and unexpected”

Virgin Hotel Reader’s Choice Award 2016

Most Visionary Hotel 2015

Best Hotel in the United States 2016

Have a similar challenge? Get in touch with the Engine Team

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Here’s how we do it

Insight to vision

Identify the difference between what you do today and what your future customers don’t yet know they need. Reimagine the future.

Insight to vision

Design to pilot

Unlock new value by imagining, designing and piloting services and experiences your colleagues are inspired to deliver and your customers will love.

Design to pilot

Plan to mobilise

Mobilise your organisation with a plan to change, build or buy what’s needed to deliver new services and experiences.

Plan to mobilise

How we can help


It's working, but not well enough

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When you need to think differently to stay ahead, but you’re unsure how to differentiate your customer experience, you need a trusted partner to guide you.

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Do something genuinely new

When you spot an opportunity to disrupt your industry with a new product or service, you need a trusted partner to guide you.

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Customer Driven Transformation

How design-led companies get more of the right services to market faster

engine book customer driven transformation

“For any who seek to improve their services, let this book be your design-led guide. It will enable you to truly transform your service, by staging engaging, personal, memorable and even beautiful experiences.

Download a free copy of the first two chapters of our book.

With this book, the authors show you how to instil an outside-in approach to strategy; moving away from a management approach that’s technology, marketing or resource optimization-led, to one that is customer-inspired and experimental with innovation.