A Q&A with our newest Virgin company: Virgin Trains Ticketing

Holly Branson sitting at her desk at the Virgin office in London
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 24 January 2023

It’s always so exciting to launch a new Virgin company, and Virgin Trains Ticketing has been no exception. The platform allows you to book train ticket from any provider, across the whole National Rail network. It’s also an integral part of Virgin Red, as you earn Virgin Points on every train you travel on. I reached out to the company to discuss everything from purpose to points of difference, and the team shared some brilliant insight. I hope you all enjoy our Q&A below!

Welcome to the Virgin Family! Can you tell us a little bit about the company and the journey you’ve been on so far?

It’s an honour to be part of the Virgin family! We launched Virgin Trains Ticketing with a bit of help from Virgin Red (Virgin’s Group-wide rewards programme) in May 2021 to give members another way to earn Virgin Points on their everyday purchases. Anyone booking train travel within England, Scotland and Wales could earn three points for every £1 spent, to be put towards hundreds of rewards.

Following a successful 12+ months within Virgin Red, we were finally ready to launch a standalone app and the team worked incredibly hard to create such an easy-to-use booking platform. The app gives people a new and straightforward way to book train tickets, on any route across the whole of Great Britain, whilst earning Virgin Points at the same time. 

An illustration of a man carrying a surfboard in front of a train
Virgin Trains Ticketing

When starting a new business, it’s so important to have a clear point of difference to your competitors. How does Virgin Trains Ticketing stand out from the crowd, and what gap in the market is it addressing?

Virgin is known for disrupting staid markets and we saw a real opportunity to shake things up when it came to buying train tickets.  We know that train travel and commuting can feel like a chore sometimes, so our aim is to disrupt and innovate the market by offering consumers a more rewarding way to travel. For example, if you're a Virgin Red member, you'll get three Virgin Points for every £1 spent on Virgin Trains Ticketing!

Virgin Points can be used on hundreds of rewards with Virgin Red – whether that’s a small treat like a sausage roll, coffee or cinema ticket, or saving up for a flight, holiday or sailing with Virgin Voyages, the possibilities are endless and there’s something for everyone. 

I think there's a huge gap in the market for a brand like Virgin to shake up the rail-ticket industry by introducing rewards and getting both commuters and leisure-travellers booking and travelling on trains.

As Chief Purpose and Vision Officer at Virgin, I’m so passionate about helping Virgin companies embed purpose into everything they do. It was amazing to work with Virgin Trains Ticketing from day one to develop and embed your own purpose, which ladders up to our overarching mission at Virgin to ‘Change Business For Good.’ Can you tell us more about your purpose journey, and how you’re living up to it?

Our Purpose is to offer “a more rewarding way to travel”.  This isn’t just about Virgin Points, wonderful though they are!  It’s also about giving people a way of getting around that makes them feel valued on an individual level.  We achieve this by thinking through the experience from the traveller’s perspective, removing friction points, being responsible and responsive, and giving them more value.  We feel that this feeling of being rewarded for spending your time with Virgin Trains Ticketing should extend to our employees and our partners, too, so we embed it into all our interactions.  And everyone can feel proud that they are choosing a more sustainable way to travel also.

Image of a lady with a Greggs coffee.
Virgin Trains Ticketing

I’ve used the app a bunch of times already to buy train tickets – in fact I booked trains tickets to Kent just last week. It’s nice to be rewarded for these everyday sorts of purchases with Virgin Points, and I love how straight-forward the booking experience is. Why do you think it is so important for businesses to add magic moments that make people smile, and how do you do this at Virgin Trains Ticketing?

Life is especially challenging at the moment and businesses should be looking at ways to add that little bit of magic to put a smile on people’s faces. In November and for most of December, everyone who booked a train ticket with Virgin Trains Ticketing received a free hot drink, to make the commute or train journey that little bit more enjoyable. We know that travelling by train isn’t always a choice, so we want to reward people for the things they have to do. 

What I love about Virgin Trains Ticketing, is how it is entirely focused on people. From the booking experience to the app interface and being able to earn Virgin Points to use with Virgin Red – every element gives people a better experience. In what other ways do you put people first, when talking about both employees and customers?

For customers, we’re rewarding them for doing what is quite often a mundane task – especially as most people wouldn’t ever consider that they could be rewarded for travelling by train. Virgin doesn’t have to do this but everything the Group does is based on making customers’ experiences better – and that’s our purpose and mission – the very reason we exist.  

When it comes to employees, where do I start?!  Being part of the Virgin family encourages our employees to feel 100% themselves at work. We aim to make an inclusive workplace for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion or non-belief.  Employees get the opportunity to really make a difference to people’s lives, as well as being able to enjoy a wealth of first-class benefits and rewards.

It’s been wonderful to see how much Virgin Trains Ticketing has grown and developed – from the initial concept, through to the launch and beyond. What exciting developments do you have coming up?

Everything that Virgin Trains Ticketing has built so far, and will do in the future, is centred around making our customers’ lives that little bit easier, making sure that we can add value to their everyday whilst taking the hassle out of everyday chores. We’re still very much at the start of our journey (excuse the pun) and the team is working hard to continue developing the app, to ensure that booking a train ticket isn’t just easy, quick and straightforward but also rewarding, surprising and a little bit fun.

Thanks for the chat, Virgin Trains Ticketing. Download the app today to see what all of the fuss is about for yourself.