The VIP Experience (and the V stands for Virgin)

Virgin is arguably one of the most innovative brands when it comes to listening to customers and valuing their experience with the brand – a quality which allows it to dominate so many different markets. So what can the musical theatre industry learn from this clever company? I’ll give you a hint . . . it all starts with a small hot towel.


In order to get your customers to constantly return to your brand and become loyal customers, it doesn’t matter whether you are a producing a musical, manning an aircraft or selling a CD. There is one little secret . . . you need to make your customers feel special.

Have you ever sat in a plane and peeked through the curtain to Business Class as the patrons get welcomed with drinks and moist towelettes? It is an experience that all of us desire – despite not actually knowing why I need a moist towelette. And if we could afford to blow cash on a Business Class seat, that is the kind of customer experience that we would expect.

I was reading this article about a travel reviewer’s first flight with Virgin. She was only flying economy class, but her detailed account of the customer experience made it sound like the experience given to people on the other side of that curtain.

The experience started with a welcome fruity cocktail (I’m sure there are non-alcoholic options) and was accompanied by free drinks throughout the flight. The 3-course meal came with a choice of three different dining options and each patron was given an amenity kit with an eye mask, pen, socks, toothbrush and tooth paste. And believe it or not, the television worked! On a plane? Really? The television worked?

How much do you think these extra little touches costed Virgin? In the larger scheme of things, probably not very much. They could have dropped their flight prices by a couple of dollars if they had forgone these extra amenities, but instead decided to bring the Business Class experience to everyone stuck in Economy.

And it is those little touches which make you step off a plane and find the nearest rooftop to actively shout about your wonderful Virgin experience. And all it took was a free drink and an eye mask. Imagine what would happen if they threw in the moist towelette as well? Chaos would ensue and all the other airlines would be left without any passengers (unless you required a few more QANTAS frequent flyer miles to redeem that coffee maker).

But this website is about musicals. So how does it relate to the world of performing?

While ushers probably shouldn’t be passing out moist towelettes at interval, The Production Company has already taken on this philosophy when it comes to designing the customer experience. They provide free programs.

It is only a small action, but it means a lot to consumers who would usually have to shell out another $20 or $25 on top of the ticket prices and conveys the notion that it is much better value for money. And you know what that means? More valued customers leaving means even more customers returning!