How Virgin Hotels freed the WiFi

Virgin Hotels San Francisco
Image from Virgin Hotels
Kami White
by Kami White
6 March 2020

Our new book, Virgin By Design, provides exclusive insight into 50 years of the Virgin brand. The very first chapter explores how we still like to behave like a cheeky start-up - despite being a global brand with over 60 companies and 71,000 employees.

As the book explains, Virgin always has been and always will be an entrepreneurial business that does things differently, with a twinkle in our eye.

Virgin By Design book - the Innovation chapter

By staying true to our cheeky start-up attitude, we’ve had a whole lot of fun with our marketing campaigns over the years. From driving a tank down Times Square for the launch of Virgin Cola, to landing some free advertising at the Super Bowl thanks to a bit of rule bending and a big blimp – our cheeky nature has led to some memorable creative campaigns.

Another example in the book looks back at Virgin Hotels ‘Free the WiFi’ campaign ahead of their Chicago launch in 2015. At the time, hotels around the world were charging their guests heavy charges to connect to WiFi and Virgin Hotels didn’t think it was right. They thought it was time the industry caught up to speed and introduced super-fast and free WiFi for all guests from the get-go. 

Red Virgin Hotels doormat that reads: "I heard the WiFi is so fast you can watch movies before they're ever finished shooting."
Image from Virgin Hotels

As part of their launch tactics, Virgin Hotels created a ‘Free The Wi-Fi’ campaign where they parked bright red, branded and Wi-Fi equipped vans outside other hotels in the city to provide super-fast connections to their competitors’ guests.

This clever campaign and cheeky mentality disrupted the sector and changed the industry for good. 

Six years on and Virgin Hotels is more committed than ever to their free WiFi policy. In fact, Virgin Hotels Chicago have opened up their bandwidth and their spaces to the public, so anyone can pop in and connect for a quick conference call or to finish up a bit of work in the afternoon. It sure beats an overcrowded café.  

Even though Virgin Hotels now has three US locations and many more on the way, they’ve maintained their cheeky start-up mentality, a boutique feel and an ode to challenging industry standards. Find out more about the Virgin Hotels experience here

For more behind-the-scenes insight into the 50 year history of Virgin, pre-order your copy of Virgin By Design today