British brand Virgin Holidays is reinvigorating business with the launch of five hospitality-inspired, tech-enhanced concept stores across the UK (Bluewater, Lakeside, Bristol, Newcastle and Leeds).
Grounded firmly in a sense of fun, the designs aim to modernise and raise the profile of the brand’s retail identity, which currently consists of a somewhat mixed footprint of seven standalone stores, plus more than 100 concessions at department stores Debenhams and House of Fraser, and in supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Dressed in cabin-crew-inspired uniforms, sales associates act as roaming concierges, emphasising the push towards delivering tailored experiences over generic, computer-based sales. There’s also no dedicated till area – instead, customers relax at an ‘Island Bar’ with drinks while browsing destinations on transaction-enabled tablets. Additional devices dotted around the store are filled with holiday-related videos that can be instantly transferred to larger wall screens (see Limbo Spaces for similar concepts).
Bidding to show it’s on board with new tech, wall-mounted Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets offer a more immersive glimpse of holiday hotspots, while a green screen allows visitors to picture themselves abroad. A Disney-themed kids area includes a dress-up box and cartoon cinema, while adults can also test Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats with a complimentary glass of champagne. The space was designed by London-based agency YourStudio.
For more on Virgin’s wider strategy, see Gap x Virgin: Retail Room Service, Virgin’s Pop-Up Restaurant and Virgin’s New Uniforms. For more on holiday retailing, see the TUI store in Retail Design Expo 2015 and Retail Beyond the Algorithm.