Friday, December 10, 2010

A Virgin Enters the Business

Virgin Group has earmarked $500 million for their newly announced property venture. A world recognized mega brand, the Group is already comprised of some 300 branded companies and more than 50,000 employees across the globe. The London-based Group recently announced the official launch of Virgin Hotels- and though entering “virgin territory,” they have no doubt about their ability to take on the industry and succeed as they have done in numerous other ventures.

Unlike other start-ups, Virgin can draw on their existing brand recognition. But Executive Director of Virgin’s Leisure and Hospitality segment, Anthony Marino, knows, “it’s one thing to be known, it’s another to be liked.” The London-based company is already well-known AND liked for their ‘cultural service’ with a reputation for innovation and lifestyle trendsetting.

“We don’t come at it as hotel experts, (but as a company) that understands its consumers,” Marino said, noting their experience in the leisure and lifestyle industries, particularly airlines and gyms. Virgin has its sights set on “a hotel experience that is more than just boutique,” according to Raul Leal, President and COO.

The hotels will provide a sensory experience using functional design that always considers the consumer. Virgin understands better than anyone, that today the experience is centered on technology. Although specifics have yet to be mentioned, Leal hinted at a few “tech surprises” that look at what technology could be in the next three to five years.

In the next seven years, the group will look to open 25 new hotels, with the first property to open in the next 12 to 18 months. The projected 4-star hotels are targeting gateway cities in the U.S. including Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami. Marino also noted a London property would be a natural fit.

Virgin Group will be announcing new hires in the near future as Anthony Marino works to assemble the management infrastructure.

Nessler, D. (2010, October 21). Virgin territory: mega-brand enters hospitality business with launch of four-star lifestyle concept. Hotel Business. 18(19), 30-32.

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