InnovationWearable Tech

How Virgin Atlantic’s First Class Experience Is Going Virtual

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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VR ‘Ida’ app offers a preview of the ultimate first-class experience to those stuck in cattle class

For most of us, flying first-class is a once-in-a-lifetime treat, but thanks to the magic of virtual reality, Virgin Atlantic is now giving a taste of that experience to anyone who wants it.

Ida, or ‘Immersive Digital Adventure’, is a new virtual reality experience designed to show off the perks of travelling first class with the airline, covering the entire journey from airport terminal to the plane’s lounge.

Although primarily a sales and marketing tool, Virgin Atlantic is teaming up with Microsoft to analyse biometric data from people viewing the experience to see what really excites their potential customers the most.

Here’s what you could be having…

virgin atlantic idaStarting from the arrival at the airport terminal, where passengers are met by dedicated staff, Ida guides the user through the check-in process to the Clubhouse departure lounge at London’s Heathrow airport, where first-class customers get special privilege options, onto the plane itself, to give the user a full vision of the whole experience.

This is complemented by smells linked to the location, such as fresh orange juice waking you up after a long overnight journey, or massage oils when distressing before a flight.

But in order to see what parts of the journey will really interest potential customers, anyone using Ida is also equipped with a Microsoft Band, the company’s wearable device, which transmits data on heartrate over the course of the experience.

The biometric feedback can then be quickly analysed from any Windows device, which can also be transported easily to show off to all numbers of potential customers. And thanks to the universal app design features included in Windows 10, the Ida app can be used by the Virgin Atlantic sales team across their smartphones, tablets or laptop devices, all providing the same high-quality experience.

Immersive

Virgin-Atlantic-Ida“The Virgin Atlantic experience is really about being immersive, and understanding how you feel when you fly with us,” Reuben Arnold, Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president of marketing and consumer experience, told TechWeekEurope at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London earlier this week, highlighting how much better Ida is for showing this off compared to previous use of flat printed images.

“It is what we’ve always sought to do – make flying fun, to make it an experience,” he added. “Finding an opportunity to really bring that to life and help people understand what it really feels like to fly with us is great, because that’s our differentiator…a more immersive experience is a great way to do that.”

Working with Microsoft to deploy Ida has helped Virgin Atlantic continue its innovation strategy, Arnold noted, giving the company a scalable and adaptable app that allows easy use across the full range of mobile and PC devices.

“Microsoft helped us look at opportunities through technology that really bring the experience to life,” he said.

“It’s about us understanding our business challenges and customer needs and then, through partnerships with the likes of Microsoft, finding technology solutions and the opportunity to really satisfy them.”

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