Virgin Holidays Chatbot for Travel Experience

The Californian travel buddy that helps people have a fantastic holiday with different exciting activities

Client: Virgin Holidays

Technology: BotsCrew Bot Framework, Java, Spring Data

Industry: Travel

Platform: FB Messenger

Introduction

Virgin Holidays is a British company within Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. The company was formed in 1985, and its HQ is in West Sussex, UK. Virgin holidays is the largest, most successful transatlantic tour operator and market leader for travel to the USA and the Caribbean. Virgin Holidays is known for being a customer-centric company that creates for its clients an unforgettable holiday experience.

“We're passionate about creating the best holidays in the whole wide world and going that extra mile to make sure you get exactly what you want, the way you want it.”

Challenge: 

Have you heard about Blue Monday? According to research conducted by Dr. Cliff Arnall, the third Monday of January is considered being the most depressing day of the year. 

Sounds sad? 

Well, Virgin Holidays decided that it is their opportunity to change Blue Monday to the most exciting day of the year. The company decided that the best way to fight Blue Monday is to encourage people to embrace new experiences and adventures. Virgin Holidays focused on making people say, “Screw it, let’s do it” and forget about Blue January vibes. 

“I believe we can all shake away the blues by focusing on the positive and fun things that are happening in the world. Here are some wonderful activities going on within the Virgin world, which I’d like to share with you today to make you smile.” 

Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson

Solution: 

The travel wizards from Virgin Holidays always put clients first and want their customers to feel like a top priority to them. And what's an excellent way to show how much your company cares about customer service if not a chatbot? So, Virgin Holidays decided to create a chatbot that would be a travel-buddy for people looking for ways to fight January Blue.

They had the idea to create a Californian travel buddy, that would help people find travel experiences that match their preferences. Why Californian? Virgin Holidays thinks that with its marvelous beaches, hills, optimistic vibes, and a bunch of amazing activities, sunny California is a perfect place to visit in January.

Development:

The development process started with the idea discussion and validation stage. 

Virgin Holidays wanted to create a bot that would chat with a user, collect the required info, and then recommend the activity or destination that would be a good match for this person. 

The company also wanted the chatbot to talk and sound like a true Californian with their common slang words, expressions, and optimistic vibe. Together with Virgin Holidays and partner PR company, we created the requirements, ideal user profile, user stories, and a project roadmap. Then, we have moved to the design stage. 

With Virgin Holidays, we discussed the chatbot’s tone of voice and flow. Based on the data that Virgin Holidays gave us, we created a friendly, chill, and positive chatbot personality and flow. The chatbot, which Virgin named “Cali- bot” used different emojis and gifs, slang words, and expressions. 

The chatbot’s focus was to engage, spark the interest, and lead people to book one of many $1 experiences that Virgin Holidays was offering. For example:

Palm Springs Celebrity Grand Tour, 
Rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, 
Paddleboarding lessons,
Hollywood Hills Hiking Tour, 
Sunset Helicopter Flight at Lake Tahoe
Universal Studios Hollywood℠ Tour
Napa Valley Wine Train
Early Access to Alcatraz and Exclusive Cable Car Sightseeing Tour
… and many more 

With that in mind, together with Virgin Holidays, we decided not to overcrowd the chatbot with additional functionality and made it narrow and simple. We integrated the chatbot with the database to keep all travel experiences that Cali bot would offer. And set the logic for recommending the experiences. During testing and training stages, we’ve put the focus on chatbots flow and UX. 

Results: 

After the chatbot launch, Virgin Holidays sold all their experience offers in just one day. The chatbot had massive success with the audience: in a short time frame the chatbot received tons of messages. The users loved the Cali-bot, and the campaign had a huge success. Also, Virgin Holidays received a Best Audience Engagement Campaign for the “Screw it, Let’s do it” campaign supported by Cali-bot. 

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