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Newsletter #1026: The “Lessons from Virgin Hotels” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

From a record label to an airline, credit cards, phone services, and even healthcare, Virgin’s famous for their wide range of brand extensions. Yet somehow, their stuff stays true to the same irreverent, playful flavor that makes the brand remarkable. Their new hotels are no different.

Here are some clever marketing lessons we can learn from Virgin’s newest venture:

1. Earn customer feedback early
2. Get rid of the annoying stuff
3. Don’t do something just because everyone else does
4. Check it out:

1. Earn customer feedback early

Before they opened their new line of hotels, a lot of people were speculating about what crazy amenities Virgin would come up with. People tweeted stuff like, “I heard the minibars will be stocked with whipped cream and a French maid costume.” So Virgin encouraged the rumors by asking people to share ones they’ve heard or come up with rumors of their own and submit it on their website.

The lesson: That’s more than just building up hype. For a hotel that now includes condoms with the toiletries, these “rumors” were probably also used to brainstorm crazy ideas.

Learn more: New York Times

2. Get rid of the annoying stuff

No one wants to touch a hotel TV remote. No one wants to figure out the thermostat. And no one wants to be surprised by their bill later. So Virgin created an app that lets you change the room temperature, control the TV, order room service, and track your bill from your phone. Virgin also doesn’t nickel-and-dime customers on stuff like good wifi, access to a huge library of music channels, and the stuff in the mini-bar.

The lesson: Virgin knows that these typical annoyances degrade the customer experience. And a great customer experience is something their customers are willing to pay more for.

Learn more: Traveller

3. Don’t do something just because everyone else does

The Virgin Hotel in Chicago doesn’t have a front desk. They also replaced “Do not disturb” door hangers with light switches, installed corner cushions that turn into bucket seats on all of their beds, and put dog statues outside of every hotel room door. People love talking about when a company does something differently. And unique details like these are all conversation-starters for Virgin’s guests.

The lesson: They might tell a friend about the weird bed cushions, but that could also start a conversation about the nice pillows or the great room service.

Learn more: Fast Company

4. Check it out: lets you pick a color from a color spectrum and shows you a range of album covers predominantly in that color. You can also sort the music by genre and preview the tracks on each album. Open Work, the makers of the site, says it’s like bringing back the thrill of the hunt you get from browsing the shelves at a record shop.

Check it out:

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