Virgin Group has started building the launch team for its new “urban” hotel brand. The company says it has a development team within its management division that is overseeing the plans.
Virgin’s latest venture was revealed in Marketing Week late last year (MW December 12, 2007). At the time, former Virgin Trains marketer Craig Inglis was advising on the launch but he has since left to join retailer John Lewis.
The new brand is expected to be formally launched in the next three months. Jackie McQuillan, a spokeswoman for Virgin Group, says: “It is very much in the development stage but we are really excited about it. It is something that fits perfectly with the rest of the brands.
“It is a small team and there are no external marketers involved as yet.”
She adds that the internal marketing team at Virgin Management has been advising the start-up but it is currently working on the brand. McQuillan adds that it will likely be based on an “urban hotel concept”.
Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has said he would like to develop a hotel brand based on Starwood’s W hotel – “urban, townhouse-style properties, half way between a hotel and a private club” – and wanted to stop other hotel brands stealing ideas from other Virgin products, such as the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow.
He adds that hotel chains have approached him to “Virginise” their properties but he believes that Virgin can offer “a more complete package than most resorts”.
It has been suggested that the first properties will be in New York, London and Los Angeles, all served by Virgin Atlantic. If successful they could be followed by others at more destinations served by the airline, including Mumbai.