Virgin Holidays is to open another 20 agencies within Next stores in 2019, on top of the 20 it will have open by the end of this year.

The news came as it opened its 13th V-Room agency in Milton Keynes this week, the first to feature a full spa and salon.

Customers will be able to get their hair and beauty treatments, such as pedicures and manicures, done pre-holiday – and all staff working in the shop will have to be fully-trained agents and beauticians or hairdressers.

Four more V-Rooms with ‘Clubhouse Spas’ inspired by the namesake facility at Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow lounge, will open next year at to-be-announced UK locations.

Vice president of product and distribution, Lee Haslett, said: “Our Milton Keynes store will be the fourth evolution of our V-Room branches. Previous ones feature Upper Class seats, virtual roller coasters, cocktail mixologists and speciality wines, teas and crisps.

“Our customers can book their holidays up to 18 months before travel so the idea is to give them reasons to keep coming back into the store to keep the relationship alive. Spa services will be chargeable, but stores will also be able to offer them as added value at their discretion for certain bookings, such as weddings and honeymoons.”
He said Virgin Holidays had seen a 50% increase in customers upgrading to Upper Class seats having had the chance to try them in store.

Virgin Holidays now employs 500 agents across its retail estate and will be recruiting more for its future expansion plans.

Haslett added: “Next is a much stronger customer fit than our previous concession partners [Tesco, House of Fraser and Debenhams].” He said bookings by Next customers were 20-30% higher than in other concessions and that Next could soon be able to offer discounts to customers who book holidays in its stores.

“The high street is fundamentally a challenge but we are bucking the trend,” he said. “We are focussing massively on customer experience, hospitality and dwell time. You can’t just put a rack of brochures down one side of your shop and desks down the other anymore.”

MoreVirgin Holidays teams up with Next to open 20 new concessions [April 18]

Virgin Holidays to create ‘shops-in-shops’ in Next stores [June 18]

Virgin Holidays hopes to relocate 30 agents after House of Fraser closure [June 18]