Virgin Holidays

Enhancing how our customers choose their dream trip

Mid 2019, I joined the Virgin Holidays browse product team on their journey to enhance the pre-booking experience for customers. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ve been up to in that time.
  • Ingredients:
  • User research
  • Design sprints
  • Product design
  • Prototyping
  • Usability testing
  • Lab testing

The consideration cycle

Since 1985 this iconic brand has been taking holidaymakers to their dream destinations across the Atlantic – from the white sands of the Caribbean to hair-raising rollercoasters in Orlando, Florida.

But with so much choice, how do you help customers choose the right destination and ensure that you’re at the forefront of their mind when the time comes to book that dream trip?

With the help of Verve and Clearleft, we gained extensive insight into our customers journeys when searching for holidays – from budgets and deciding where to go, right through to finding essential info and sharing favourites with their holiday party. We named this the ‘consideration cycle’.

Consideration cycle visual

Created by Clearleft

Destination landing pages

Since February 2019, we’ve been focussing on the make-up of our destination landing pages – tailoring them to include key information that prospective holidaymakers need before booking their dream trip.

We’ve run numerous design and content sprints to better understand what our customers are looking for in a destination and what the deciding factors are. The insight we’ve gained through these sessions, paired with what we’ve learnt from live data and feedback has helped us to refine these pages to their latest iteration (v3.1).


Destination intro

Essense image carousel

World map and flying days

Alternative destinations

Weather and price graph

Hand-picked hotels

Destination intro

Essense image carousel

World map and flying days

Alternative destinations

Weather and price graph

Hand-picked hotels

Know-how pods

Mobile sub-nav

It wasn’t a home run

It took a few swings before landing a hit on the most successful iteration of these pages. Some of the greatest challenges we had to overcome were around content, navigation and hierarchy. Customers expect to see different types and amounts of information at the various stages of their consideration cycle, so we had to find the sweet spot that would work for all visitors, at any time. Creating seamless navigation between parent, child and sibling destinations also proved tricky, especially for those with less geographical knowledge.

Here’s how the pages have evolved:

(I started from version 2.0)

Version 3.0

Version 2.0

Version 1.0


Hotlist Wishlist

One of the key themes that stood out in our research was the way customers were saving, sharing and comparing their favourite elements of a holiday. Hotels, places of interest and ‘Instagramable’ moments were being exchanged via WhatsApp and email, with shortlists being created and saved locally on personal devices.

Armed with this new insight, we kicked-off our first internal design sprint ‘share and retrieve’, where we set-out to identify opportunities and possibly a new tool to help our customers share Virgin Holidays products.

Challenge statement: How might we make it easy for customers to save, share and return to items they are interested in?

The minimum viable product

By the end of the design sprint, our prototype had been well received by users and stakeholders within the business. This gave us the green light to fully design and develop the MVP over a couple of scrum sprints.

During those sprints we considered all scenarios and states for the adding/removing of items to a list, the Hotlist page itself and even rich media previews when sharing content. After a couple of rounds of basic usability testing, internal reviews and rigorous QA – Hotlist was born!

Out of the box benefits included the ability to save destination pages, hotels, search results and holidays with saved options. You can also create multiple lists which can be shared with members of your party, a Virgin Holidays expert, or even yourself – all without the need to create an account.

Since it was shipped in mid 2019, we’ve been monitoring its performance to optimise engagement and conversion. Numerous A/B tests have been run to validate hypothesis, one of which was changing the name from Hotlist to Wishlist (flame to heart), along with others that focussed on improving interactions.

Hotlists page

Saved items

Share options

WhatsApp preview

The journey goes on...

This page is a working progress and will be updated with the remainder of the journey soon.