Virgin Voyages attracting younger demographic

Richard Branson's cruise line finds a segment space between premium and luxury

Virgin Voyages has provided some key insight and findings on the new cruise line’s customers.

The intel, which includes the average age and demographic of its passengers, was revealed during an online presentation to Australian travel advisors.

Shane Riley, Associate Vice President – International Sales revealed the data for Richard Branson’s cruise venture on the first Virgin Voyages Travel Agents – Australia Facebook Live Zoom session last week.

Hosting the webinar from the UK, Riley was joined by three of Virgin Voyages’ locally based Australian representatives from Travel the World – MaryLuz Escandor, Sharon Hando and Sam Storey.

Scarlet Lady | Source: Virgin Voyages/Facebook

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During the nearly 40-minute presentation, Riley disclosed that that the average age for Virgin Voyages’ “Sailors” [guests] from around the globe was 47. “Somewhat younger than CLIA’s stats…certainly in the European market, is in their late 50s,” he commented.

There is a misconception that we’re an 18-35 year old product,” Riley said.

“We’ve created a premium experience that is priced accordingly. Obviously those people in the younger age demographic may not be able to even afford the product,” he said.

Other key take-aways

  • 82% of sailors to book with Virgin Voyages are aged between 30-60. “That really is the sweet-spot for us,” he said.

Riley suggested to “Ship Mates” (Virgin’s term for travel advisors) that Virgin should be offered as an option to clients in that sweet-spot who traditionally book with other premium brands.

  • Nearly 60% of Sailors who have already booked with Virgin have children at home under the age of 18.

Virgin Voyages’ number 1 selling point has been its “adult-by-design experience”, which was part of the brand’s DNA from the outset.

Almost all guest balconies feature hammocks, and there’s a catamaran net in the Athletic Club that is 15 decks high – elements that would be impossible to include with children onboard.

Riley commented: “[Sailors] are looking to get away, have an amazing vacation without their children and without other peoples’ children. Because we are 18+ you’re not going to get onboard and see other peoples’ kids and think I should have brought mine. It’s a real escapism. We say take a vacation, don’t take a guilt trip.” 

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Posted by Virgin Voyages on Wednesday, 3 February 2021

  • One-quarter of Virgin Voyages’ Sailors have never sailed before which means 75% of its customers are moving across from other cruise brands. Riley said the cruise line’s adult-only offering, value for money, onboard choice, brand awareness and “relaxed luxury” had enticed Sailors to jump ship from five-star and other popular cruise brands to Virgin.

“[Sailors who] perhaps don’t need the waterslides and climbing walls anymore cause they’re not travelling with kids, or their kids are growing up.

Where are Virgin Voyages’ guests coming from

“We are seeing that people are migrating to us from those more mainstream brands, but we’re also finding we are attracting people from those ultra-luxury brands.

“They chose those luxury brands because of their level of inclusions but they didn’t necessarily want those smaller ships. We have the best of both worlds. We have mid-sized ships where we have lots of facilities on board, but we also have the high-level of inclusions, so that really does fit us into a unique space between that premium and that luxury space.”

Scarlet Lady | Source: Virgin Voyages/Facebook

Relaxed Luxury

Riley also discussed Virgin Voyages’ “Relaxed Luxury” offering with travel advisors, saying the concept has struck a chord with Sailors.

“For us, it’s not about having a tablecloth and 15 different knives and forks and eight different wine glasses on the table.

“Luxury is no longer about that. Luxury is about being yourself. Having the gift of time, being able to do what you want to do and when you want to do it.”

“We don’t have formalities like dress-code and dining halls that you have to be seated by 6 o’clock or 8 o’clock.”

“It resonates really well,” he added.

Seacademy Scarlet tier

Riley also confirmed that Virgin Voyages would release the second tier in its travel trade training program, Seacademy, in coming days.

First Mates who complete the ‘Scarlet’ tier will receive a $150 Bonus Commission Voucher, along with a second knot and an updated certificate and email signature stamp.

The Scarlet tier follows the ‘Violet’ tier that offered agents who completed the training by 31 January 2021 with a voucher for a future Virgin Voyage cruise, and the first knot.

Subsequent tiers will be also be progressively introduced; Silver in Q2 2021 and Gold in Q4 2021, available after completing 15 and 20 Seacademy lessons respectively.

More on the Seacademy here.

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