Aviation

Velocity’s Steve Baird kicks off Travel DAZE: “We needed to stand out from the crowd”

Lauren Croft

As you should very well know, Travel DAZE is finally here!

Kicking off the conference today is Steve Baird, head of marketing and analytics at Velocity Frequent Flyer. And boy, did we learn a bunch.

Velocity has had a Kick Arse year to say the least, and Baird said these past 12 months, in particular, have been a result of three things: the first of which is taking risks.

“Risk is really important in marketing,” Baird began.

“It’s memorable. How do we create content that is memorable? Risk has been the key.”

The second critical thing, according to Baird, is appreciating what you have.

“Too often in marketing, when I’m speaking to peers, colleagues and team members, we can live in a bit of a complaint culture.

“What’s critical is to realise what we have and appreciate it both from a budget perspective but also a brand perspective. We are sitting on some gold being a part of the Virgin family,” he said.

And the third is having a great team culture.

“Nothing can be produced without this element, and it’s something we’ve invested in,” Baird added.

Velocity worked with a third party called Leading Teams who worked with the Velocity marketing team on their team dynamic.

As a result, the team has come up with some non-negotiable behaviours – one of which includes always coming to a conclusion at the end of a meeting.

And it’s worked – 15 months ago Velocity had just had an identity crisis.

“We’d just turned 13, and like all teenagers, we were wondering who we were, what our purpose was and where we fit in as a brand. We didn’t really have a distinct identity and we knew we needed it.

“And to really kick arse, what we needed to do was to challenge industry conventions. We needed to stand out from the crowd.

Baird said the Velocity points system felt very boring, and they wanted to infect some hour and colour into it.

“Someone needed to bring some humour to this beige category,” he said.

So they created an expensive mistake, and filmed it – in a Netflix-style mini-series and in seven weeks, no less. They also emailed it to all their customers.

This the first time Velocity released a campaign that was 100 per cent digital and was also the first time Virgin used their own data.

They also got the whole company behind it – Virgin cabin crew announced the billion point giveaway on flights, and it was the Wi-Fi password for the lounge access.

“It’s that combination of using our own assets really well and [using] our data meant we could really pull this off at a reduced spend and still get effective results,” Baird said.

But the truly Kick Arse part of the campaign was that the billion dollar point giveaway was the exact same offer Velocity has been running for 10 years, every six months.

The new approach worked – Velocity experienced a 58.4 per cent growth in revenue and a 116 per cent increase in first-time points transfers.

Velocity’s new approach has been recognised globally: the company has won awards for Marketing Team of the Year and Media Campaign of the Year, won a 2018 Cannes Bronze Lion for the best Media Campaign and won two Adobe awards.

And Baird said that for Velocity Frequent Flyer, this was just the beginning.

“I think there’s the opportunity to keep taking risks,” he said.

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