Virgin, which has a long reputation for reinventing stagnant industries, is looking to do the same for its new domestic service in the US, according to travel observers.
--Where others see disaster, Richard Branson sees opportunity. The founder of Virgin Group has business interests on six continents, including airlines, express trains, and limousine services, writes CNNmoney.com.
--A visit to (their Web site) proves that they are already applying the virgin way to their business and standing out before any of their flights actually take off, says Rohit Bhargava in Influential Marketing.
He says their "secret" is actually quite simple: they look at an industry that is doing everything the same way, identify the pain points for customers of all companies in that industry, and focus their business on doing those things differently.
For Virgin America, this means:
Ø Having a unique personality. Few US domestic airlines have an authentic and unique identity. Virgin brings a hipness lacking in most carriers.
Ø Enabling a travelers gadget-conscious lifestyles. Every seat on Virgins new airline will have a power plug for laptops and USB chargers for MP3 players, for example.
Ø Eliminate the hand signals and call button etiquette problem. Virgin America has an online ordering system where passengers can pay through a cashless system.
Ø Discounts without the discount airports. Other airlines have often out-of-the-way airports but Virgin is flying only from DC to Los Angeles and San Francisco, at least at first.
Ø Connecting with other passengers. Virgin has what it calls a --seat to seat chat button built into every seat. Passengers can put their seats into --discoverable modes to talk.
Startup Virgin America won final approval in May to take to the skies in the US.
Federal regulators approved the company's revised plan to operate US-based commercial flights after the company made numerous concessions, including replacing its chief executive, to allay concerns about the foreign ownership stake of Richard Branson's London-based Virgin Group Ltd.
Report by David Wilkening
Tuesday, July 31, 2007