Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
By Alex Tilbury
Published in Escape
February 17, 2013
Loyalty card points junkies can now “earn and burn” faster with Virgin Australia’s Velocity card, with a new hotel partnership and the promise of more innovations this year.
Virgin’s frequent flyer program has paired with the Morgans Hotel Group, owner of 13 boutique hotels, mostly in the US.
Data from the Velocity Frequent Flyer program shows its customers stay faithful to their partners to accrue points. So the partnership of Virgin and Morgans reinforces that many Virgin customers fly to LA and New York.
Chief executive officer of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program Neil Thompson is one of this industry’s most experienced loyalty card players. He ran the Qantas Frequent Flyer program until 2007, then worked as a loyalty program consultant in New York.
Thompson says frequent flyer loyalty programs are all about “earn ability” so members can “earn and burn quickly”.
“With us you can start to accumulate pretty quickly. People tend to focus their spending around our partners, so we choose partners that will fast-track our members.”
“We have set a target of five million members by the end of 2015 and I am very comfortable that we are well on track,” he tells Escape. “We are not trying to be the biggest loyalty program, in terms of numbers, but we aim to be the most interesting and innovative. You are going to see a pipeline of new innovations over the next six months plus we’ll expand the program to do things a bit differently.”
For Virgin, the name of the game is “relevance”.
“We know our customers, so we focus on parts of the world that we know our customers fly to,” Thompson says.
“Watch this space – there are plenty of things to come in 2013. If you use the Velocity credit card and go shopping, you will earn points. If you stay at the Mondrian (owned by Morgans Hotel Group in Los Angeles), you’ll earn points.
“The whole Morgans group is very cool. They get a mix of business and premium leisure travellers just like us they are often one and the same person. Both Virgin and Morgans know their premium leisure and business customers want to stay in gateway cities with dynamic night lives in resort markets.”
If you are heading to California with Virgin Australia, remember the Mondrian in LA is at 8440 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood (next to the House of Blues). I say remember because there is no sign outside.
It’s been said if you don’t know where the Mondrian is then maybe you don’t belong there. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek and popular with film and television celebrities.
Even the stony-faced US Customs officer was impressed I was staying at the Mondrian. “I drive past the Mondrian every day on my way to work, it has got that awesome Skybar.”
Mondrian general manager Jeff Kulek describes his hotel as a “personal playground for guests”. The guestrooms all have the same TV/mirror shaped like a huge looking glass, to convey an “Alice in Wonderland” effect. The guest is “always the star of the show”.
Kulek said the airline partnership was a first for the hotel group.
“We are very choosy but we see similarities with Virgin. Personally I love how you can do the seat-to-seat chat in-flight.” (Seat-to-seat chat allows flyers to keep in touch during a trip).
“The Hiltons of the world are all made from the same cookie cutter. We are the creator of the boutique hotel and we feel that other hotels like W are all imitators. We are the original and we are very proud of that,” Kulek says.
After a one-hour Virgin America flight north to San Francisco, I stayed at Clift (495 Geary St) near Union Square. The lobby is dark and full of avant garde art pieces. Clift is elegant and possibly pretentious, but most definitely fabulous.
The Morgans Hotel rates range from $US250-$US500 ($A245-$A490) a night, and you’ll get 1000 Velocity points a stay. Or 2000 points for bookings before February 28 for travel until March 31.
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Here at Virgin Australia, we know that the time spent in the lounge is an important part of the travel journey.
So we’re excited to announce the launch of a new innovative service that will take the Virgin Australia lounge experience to a whole new level.
From today, guests in any Virgin Australia lounge can enjoy access to PressReader, compliments of Virgin Australia. This app offers an incredible selection of over 2,300 newspapers and magazines from 97 countries in 55 languages. Some of the titles include The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Gold Coast Bulletin, Los Angeles Times and Aujourd’hui en France.
Available on any Android, Apple and Windows device, PressReader offers a range of interactive features such as clickable URLs, the ability to search, share and discuss articles.
Just because your flight is called doesn’t mean it ends there. Those using tablet or mobile devices can download the titles, so they can continue reading their favourite magazines and newspapers throughout the rest of their journey.
To find out about lounge access, visit: www.virginaustralia.com/lounge
Download the app now before your next Virgin Australia flight at www.pressreader.com and connect to Virgin Australia’s lounge Wi-Fi.
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
If you have travelled from Sydney domestic airport recently, you may have noticed some changes at the end of the Pier – brand new departure lounges with a vibrant look and feel.
We have been working to enhance and expand the space, which now features brand new bathroom facilities, additional seats, charging bars for personal devices and signature design elements, including the Virgin Australia ‘Flying Lady’, which is proudly displayed above the new service desk.
The Pier has also been expanded externally to offer five additional departure gates. This means we can allocate an extra three Airbus A330 aircraft or five Boeing 737 aircraft, enabling our operations to run even more smoothly.
We look forward to welcoming you to our new space!
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012
Virgin Australia’s Flight Specials has been named as one of App Store’s ‘Best of 2012′ applications.
Each year Apple selects a short-list of the best applications that highlight top trends and innovations in the App Store.
This year, Flight Specials was named as one of the top 25 apps, from more than 750,000 available in the App Store. Flights Special was also one of only three Australian apps to grace the list.
View the full App Store Best Of 2012 list.
Flight Specials appeared in the Disruptive Services category, where apps were judged on how they offer “new ways of approaching how we travel, buy products and use mobile payments”.
Apple claims that the apps named in the Disruptive Services category “are helping to reshape and redefine industries”.
Since it was released just five months ago, Virgin Australia’s Flight Specials has been downloaded by more than 200,000 iPhone users.
The app’s purpose is simple: to give guests access to the right fare, for the right price, at the right time. Flight Specials does this by allowing guests to view Virgin Australia’s latest specials, create flight special alerts, and receive real time notifications as soon as specials become available.
The app also gives guests access to Virgin Australia mobile website features such as Book Flights, Manage Bookings, Mobile Check-in, and Flight Status.
Experience the convenience of Virgin Australia Flight Specials – one of Apple’s ‘Best of 2012′ apps. Download the iPhone application from the iTunes Store.
In exciting news, Flights Specials is now available for Android. Download the Android application on Google Play™.
Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Like many of our guests, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the launch of iOS6, iPhone 5, and the much speculated Passbook.
A digital wallet that stores boarding passes, Passbook is an innovative new application that is set to help streamline Mobile Check-in and boarding processes.
We are proud to confirm that Virgin Australia will be the first Australian airline to provide guests with Passbook-compatible boarding passes.
The move to integrate with Passbook is just one of the steps we’re taking to make travel more convenient for our guests.
How Passbook works:
• Upon completion of Mobile Check-in you will be sent a SMS link to your boarding pass.
• Click the link and open your boarding pass.
• If you have iOS6, a pop-up window will ask you to add your boarding pass to Passbook.
• Click “Add” and your boarding pass will be stored in your Passbook.
• When you are ready to board your flight, a Passbook alert will appear on your lock screen.
• Unlock your phone and open Passbook.
• Passbook will automatically retrieve the stored boarding pass applicable to your flight.
• Make your way to the airport gate and present this boarding pass to board.
Passbook means you no longer have to frantically search through your wallet or carry-on for your boarding pass.
iPhone users who aren’t ready to upgrade to iPhone 5 can obtain Passbook by simply updating their operating system to iOS6. Passbook is supported by iPhones dating back to iPhone 3GS.
Non-iPhone users will also receive our updated mobile boarding passes, which come colour-coded according to status for Velocity members.
Note: Passbook is not available to users with default browsers other than safari.
Skip the queues at the airport – use your web-enabled phone to check in and obtain your mobile boarding pass. Discover how to check in using Mobile Check-in.
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
As the hype of Wimbledon starts to ebb and wane, our focus remains on tennis with the exciting announcement that we’ve signed on, for the fourth year running, to be the official airline and proud sponsor of the Australian Open.
Not only are we the Open’s official airline; our holiday program, Blue Holidays are also on board as an official tour operator.
In anticipation of the thrilling action of the Grand Slam, Blue Holidays are set to offer tennis fans an experience like no other, with the introduction of a range of tailor-made event packages for the Australian Open 2013.
Virgin Australia General Manager Marketing, Michael Betteridge, said “The tournament is one of the most prestigious events on the sporting calendar and following the success of the Australian Open 2012, Blue Holidays will offer new and exclusive packages allowing guests to book airfares, accommodation and courtside tickets in a few quick easy steps online”.
Join the colourful crowds this summer amid the festive atmosphere of Melbourne Park’s world-class tennis facilities … Catch all the courtside action and witness the world’s best players go head to head, with an Australian Open event package.
Blue Holidays Australian Open Tennis 2013 packages include return airfares to Melbourne, three nights’ accommodation and a Rod Laver Arena session ticket, from $613, per person. GAME, SET, MATCH!
Virgin Australia operates flights to Melbourne direct from Australian capital cities and major regional ports, and from international destination such as Christchurch, Auckland, Los Angeles, Nadi and Bali.
Where: Melbourne and Olympic Parks, Batman Avenue, Melbourne
When: 14–27 January 2013
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
This week saw the launch of two great initiatives at Virgin Australia. We launched our very first mobile specials app and mobile Check-in creating a ‘mobile boarding pass’ for all guests using any smart phone.
Available now from the App Store, our ‘Virgin Australia Flight Specials’ app for iPhone (Android coming soon) provides a one-stop spot to view the latest flight specials and happy hour fares, enables users to enter specific travel criteria and sign-up for real-time alerts, then get push notifications when a flight special matches the set criteria.
The app also offers the ability to share flight details with family and friends via Facebook and Twitter.
The Check-in feature from the Virgin Australia mobile website will send guests their boarding pass as an SMS to allow for mobile boarding. The mobile boarding pass can then be presented at the departure gate to board the flight, offering a faster and more convenient way to check in and board.
Never has it been so easy to book, track, check-in and share your travel journey.
Download our Flight Specials application & test run our new mobile Check-in feature today.
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
If you’re a frequent flyer, flying internationally or a business traveller it makes sense to fly Business Class. In a nutshell, benefits include: speedy check in and boarding, and second-to-none comfort, flexibility, personal service and privacy.
Still not convinced? We’ve pulled together a snapshot of what we offer our Business Class guests.
At the Airport
Transfers: Arrive in style, on time. Eligible Business Class guests travelling on our international long haul services can pre-book a complimentary limousine service to and from the airport.
Valet Parking: Save time at the airport. Virgin Australia Business Class guests receive exclusive access to Sydney Premium Valet. Business Class guests departing from Sydney can also enjoy direct kerbside Virgin Australia lounge access with Sydney lounge Premium Entry and Valet.
Priority Check In and Boarding: Skip the queues and benefit from a more streamlined, fast-tracked check-in, security screening and entry process. Business Class guests are invited to check in and bag drop using our Priority Check-in facilities, and board the aircraft first via our dedicated Priority Boarding lanes at selected airports. As an added bonus, Business Class guests travelling with carry-on baggage only, can choose to check in at the Virgin Australia lounge.
Lounge: Relax in comfort, removed from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Business Class guests flying on our domestic network receive complimentary access to the Virgin Australia lounge. Lounge benefits and amenities includes: dedicated service desks, complimentary food and beverages, business facilities, entertainment, flight information services, and private waiting areas and bathrooms. Virgin Australia international long haul Business Class guests also receive access to selected international airport lounge locations operated by airline partners.
During the Flight
Comfort: Relaxing onboard has never been easier, or more enjoyable. Our Business Class guests are privy to luxurious seats with generous legroom and recline (as far as a fully flat bed when travelling on our long haul network), as well as stylish amenity kits.
Service: Experience all-inclusive, second-to-none service. Business Class guests are catered for by specialist cabin crew members, whom serve gourmet food and beverages from renowned Australian chef Luke Mangan.
Privacy: Enjoy room to move and distance from your neighbour. Business Class seats are roomier than the rest. Business Class guests also have access to private Business Class restrooms.
To top it off, Business Class guests receive extra baggage allowances and exceptional flexibility when changing and cancelling bookings.
Next time you fly, consider Business Class. You deserve it! The added investment is worth the perks, excitement and comfort you’ll receive in return.
Friday, June 15th, 2012
You’ve just experienced the trip of a lifetime. You’ve picnicked beneath the Eiffel Tower, spotted celebrities in Hollywood, rode a camel in the Liwa Desert, drank Pimm’s by the Thames, and gorged on spaghetti in Milan. Nothing can burst your bubble, you’re on a high… then the jet lag sets in.
Jet lag. It’s one of only a few downfalls of international travel. But the good news is, it can be partially prevented.
To help you reset your body clock, sleep better, wake up focused, and stay alert during the day, we’ve pulled together a list of ways to minimise jet lag.
Read more »
Monday, June 4th, 2012
Last week we opened the doors to our brand new lounge on the Gold Coast. This is the first Virgin Australia lounge on the Gold Coast and is another way we can enhance the travel experience to this important destination for both business and leisure guests.
Our in-house Product team worked closely with renowned architect Tim Greer from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer to design the two-storey 680m2 space, which seats around 140 guests. Inspired by our flagship Queensland lounge in Brisbane, it features organic wood elements in the reception area and has an open-plan format to create a deliberate flow from space to space, enhanced by the ‘leaf’ theme in the ceiling pattern.
Read more »