Smart home at a lifestyle hotel: Virgin runs on Velimo

In today’s hospitality industry, free Wi-Fi is no longer enough to attract tech-savvy travellers. Virgin Hotels has turned to the Velimo connected infotainment platform. The mobile IT solution provides digital content, smart room control options and interactive services for a new travel experience.

The customer

Virgin Hotels is a lifestyle hotel chain headquartered in Miami. It is part of the globally operating Virgin Group, which is known for its activities in music, mobile communications and air travel. The first Virgin Hotel opened its doors in Chicago in 2015. Additional hotels are planned in major US cities. Specialising in lifestyle hospitality, Virgin Hotels stands for individualised charm and friendly service, as well as modern, creative design that also takes the latest technological innovations into account. Virgin Hotels focuses on an “honest hotel” strategy and offers many extras at no additional cost.

The challenge

Competition in the global hotel industry is fierce. Growth through economies of scale or low room rates is limited. Hospitality providers therefore need another way to set themselves apart. For its market entry strategy, Virgin Hotel was looking for ways to attract customers and keep them loyal to its brand on an emotional level through new and unique experiences. 

A focus on technology and lifestyle are part of the Virgin Group’s core brand identity. As a result, the hotel subsidiary was also interested in focusing on providing smart services and digital content in developing its concept. It wanted the solution to meet the needs of creative, tech-savvy, well-educated, urban travellers of various ages while exceeding what they expect from a hotel’s technical amenities.

Virgin was already familiar with Lufthansa Industry Solutions from the BoardConnect passenger in-flight entertainment platform when Virgin America was looking for a solution. In this context, Virgin Hotels learned of the company’s other solutions for the tourism industry, especially its infotainment and room automation systems for the hospitality sector. Thanks to this extensive expertise in hardware, software and content for IT in the tourism sector, Virgin Hotels decided to work with Lufthansa Industry Solutions.

The solution

In view of the dynamic development of mobile technologies, the project partners chose to go with the Velimo infotainment system at the flagship hotel in Chicago. The guest service portal connects mobile devices, televisions and the room’s control system. A Virgin Hotels branded app called Lucy, which is available for iOS and Android, acts as a user interface, allowing hotel guests to transform the most common smartphone models into their personal hotel assistants. 

Guests can use the Lucy mobile solution to operate the television, change the room’s temperature, book services or request amenities from reception. They can also use Lucy to chat with other hotel guests. Hotel staff can use the app to inform guests quickly and easily about interesting events. Velimo was developed with tourism in mind and was tailored to Virgin Hotels’ processes as part of the project. Velimo’s architecture is designed for flexible expansion as needed.

The customer benefits

As a powerful, high-performance IT solution for the hospitality industry, Velimo actively enables Virgin Hotels to offer its guests a new and unique travel experience. It measures up to today’s hotel guests’ affinity for mobile web services and their desire to use their own mobile devices to access them. At the same time, connecting televisions, room control systems and reception goes beyond the technological standard offered by many hotels. This lays the ground for a “wow” experience that anchors the Virgin Hotels brand positively in customers’ minds. 

In addition, the guest service platform gives Virgin Hotels access to significantly more extensive and effective customer communication throughout the customer journey. The Lucy mobile solution makes it easier for the company to interact with guests before, during and after their travels. The interaction afforded by the app significantly simplifies customer relationship management. 

As a full-service provider, Lufthansa Industry Solutions supplied the entire infrastructure for Velimo from a single source. The low total cost of ownership resulting from the bring-your-own-device approach is an advantage from an economic perspective. Because guests use their own mobile devices to operate the room’s control systems, there is no need to install and operate special hardware just for the hotel. In addition, the investment in the solution will continue to pay off in the future thanks to Velimo’s open framework, which allows Virgin Hotels to continue expanding the range of services and features it offers as technologies and customer needs evolve.

Using Velimo at our flagship hotel in Chicago is a solution of strategic importance. It allows us to offer our guests a travel experience that none of our competitors can provide in this form. Thanks to the wide range of possibilities for integration, the platform also presents us with new branding, sales and customer analysis options. As a result, Velimo offers us the opportunity to keep growing beyond the hotel business.

Raul Leal
CEO, Virgin Hotels

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