Virgin Trains executive commercial director Mark Furlong is to take the same post at online rail booking operation Thetrainline.com.
The move creates a husband and wife marketing team, as his wife Louise Furlong is already marketing director of the online joint venture, which is owned by Virgin and Stagecoach.
He will be replaced at Virgin Trains by Paul Griffiths, who was executive commercial director of Virgin Atlantic Airways. Since Griffiths’ move Virgin Atlantic has restructured, making the post redundant.
Both Furlong and Griffiths say they have no plans to review advertising. Thetrainline.com and Virgin Trains use Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. Virgin Trains spent £10m on advertising in the year to September 2001 (AC Nielsen/MEAL) and Thetrainline.com spent £351,000.
Furlong says he is considering a direct marketing appointment, however – so far the Trainline.com has used agencies on a project basis. Virgin Trains uses Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel.
Furlong has been overseeing Thetrainline.com since previous commercial director Richard Bowden-Doyle left a year ago. He says Thetrainline.com now needs a full-time commercial director as it positions itself as an arm’s-length retail operation, selling tickets for all UK train operating companies.
Griffiths says that Virgin Trains will probably increase its marketing budget this year, in line with a “significant strategic campaign” focusing on the company’s new Voyager and Super Voyager trains.