Virgin Atlantic expands CMO role as Claire Cronin departs

Virgin Atlantic’s new top marketer will have digital, loyalty and customer journey as part of their remit, alongside marketing and communications.

Virgin Atlantic is expanding the remit of its top marketer as CMO Claire Cronin departs after six years at the business.

Cronin began her career as a graduate at Barclays in 2001 where she spent seven years before becoming European marketing director of NetJets in 2010. She spent three years at the travel company before returning to Barclays.

In 2014 she joined Virgin Holidays as marketing director before becoming CMO of Virgin Atlantic in 2017. During her time, Cronin has seen the company expand its in-house team and launch the first joint campaign with Virgin Holidays.

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Virgin Atlantic’s vice-president of digital and distribution, Siobhan Fitzpatrick, will take over from Cronin in September in an expanded role that will include digital, loyalty and customer journey. Virgin Atlantic has not said what her job title will be.

Cronin says: “I’ve loved my six years at the company driving forward transformational change, and I was proud to achieve the highest brand equity levels in eight years.

“But now I’m expecting my first child in September, it’s the perfect opportunity to hand over the reins to my mentee Siobhan Fitzpatrick, who I know will continue to champion our unique Virgin spirit and challenger DNA.

Cronin has hinted that she has another job lined up, saying she does not plan to stay within the travel industry.

She adds: “I’m looking forward to joining a new industry in 2021 and being part of the nation’s economic recovery.”

Speaking to Marketing Week earlier this year she noted her goals as a marketer are to broaden her skills beyond a specific sector.

She explained: “I would tend to align my personal development requests to strategic planning versus taking a step back and saying ‘Forget about this role and this company specifically. What would enable me to be the best possible marketer and the best possible leader?'”

Her successor is facing a challenging time as the travel industry has been hit by Covid-19. Since coronavirus, travel marketing has had to educate consumers about quarantine rules as well as reassuring them about safety.

Virgin Atlantic in particular has struggled and is also currently trying to secure a £1.2bn rescue package in order to remain in business. The company has warned that it could run out of money if it does not receive the package and is asking its suppliers, including media-buying agencies, to accept a 20% reduction on the money the airline owes them, and to receive the rest in staggered payments.



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