Virgin Holidays on its treehouse stunt and future experiential plans

As Virgin Holidays' luxury treehouse experience draws to close, Event spoke to marketing director Claire Cronin about the stunt, and the brand's plans for future activity.

Claire Cronin says there will be more experiential activity to come from Virgin Holidays this year
Claire Cronin says there will be more experiential activity to come from Virgin Holidays this year

What was behind the decision to make a splash with a PR stunt like the luxury treehouse?

We know that January is the peak month for customers researching and booking holidays, and when office workers, in particular trudge into their offices and spend a lot of time slyly looking at getaways from their desks. So we figured, why wait until they reach their office? Let's surprise them on their way into work and remind them that better times await.

The stunt was the perfect complement to our traditional advertising across TV, press and out of home, promoting our Dream Bigger campaign.

Will there be more of this to come from Virgin Holidays?

Yes - Virgin is a disruptive brand and we plan to do more disruptive activity like this. We don't have big enough marketing budgets to go toe-to-toe with other brands in traditional channels. Moreover, more and more customers start their holiday planning in social media channels, so doing more stunts with a social-first lens is the obvious thing to do.

Is Virgin Holidays going to have an increased focus on brand activations and experiential marketing going forwards?

Yes. As a long-haul holiday brand, we want to stretch our brand into more spaces and conversations, not limit ourselves to the seasonal peaks in the calendar for traditional TV advertising led campaigns. This means working more closely with our agency partners to create innovative campaigns across paid, owned and earned media.

What is the idea behind the treehouse stunt and how have PR, social and experiential been used together?

The idea behind the treehouse was to, quite literally, bring to life the wonder of the Wonderlist collection. It was inspired by the treehouse suites at Lion Sands in South Africa, which has long been a favourite of Virgin Holidays customers. We wanted to bring a taste of Africa to the South Bank - literally! So we built a treehouse, hired Hubert Zanberg to create a truly South African interior and South Africa Masterchef contestant Petrus Madutela to deliver a six course degustation menu with local favourites - such as mealworm tempura and ostrich croquettes.

We invited journalists for a private tour on the first day (25 January) and one lucky journalist spent the night inside, waking up to a spectacular view of St Paul's and breakfast prepared by Madutela. On the second night, we had a blogger staying and on the third night we ran a competition in partnership with Periscope to give customers the opportunity to spend the night. We've seen huge engagement already across all of our channels and great coverage in the press.

See Virgin Holidays' luxury South African-style treehouse in pictures in our special gallery.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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