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Virgin Hotels turns mobile into shoppable Gap closet for guests

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July 13, 2015

Guests who lose their luggage may purchase replacements from Gap

Guests who lose their luggage may purchase replacements from Gap

Virgin Hotels Chicago is tapping Gap Inc.’s Reserve In Store capability to enable guests to shop via its mobile application or site and have their new wardrobe delivered to their hotel rooms, in a reflection of how mobile-enabled delivery continues to open up new opportunities for marketers.

The new relationship between Virgin Hotels, a lifestyle hotel brand affiliated with Virgin Group, and Gap points to a void in the hospitality market in which customers are demanding shopping capabilities and delivery features at their hotels of residence. If consumers happen to lose their luggage or are in the mood for a new wardrobe, they may access Gap’s inventory via the hotel’s application Lucy or the Virgin Hotels Web site to place an order and request pieces to be delivered right to their doors.

“We are always looking for meaningful and valuable ways to bring our product and experiences to customers,” said Tricia Nichols, global lead of consumer engagement and partnerships at Gap, New York. “Through ongoing conversations with Virgin Hotels, we saw a unique opportunity to bring Gap’s on-trend styles and apparel essentials to the needs of travelers’ who may want new outfit options or need something new once they reached their hotel.

“The marriage of our omnichannel Reserve In Store technology with their customer-centric mobile and desktop concierge services truly brings something special to travelers — all delivered directly to their hotel room and within a few hours of reserving online.”

Tapping new markets
As consumers increasingly use a plethora of devices to complete their shopping, this partnership taps into an omnichannel experience to enable hotel guests to reserve clothing via their platform of choice. If a guest is out to lunch at a nearby restaurant but is seeking an outfit for dinner later, he or she may pull out a smartphone to place an order and have it waiting at his or her room several hours later.

This tool will undoubtedly be met with positive reception from many travelers, particularly those who are fans of Gap’s basics and classic pieces.

Customers may download Virgin Hotels Chicago’s Lucy app to access the feature, or visit virginhotels.com. They may then sift through Gap’s retail and accessories items and select favorites via the Reserve in Store button.

“It’s in Virgin’s DNA to come to be the consumers’ champion, whether they’re being ripped off, or they simply just need a solution to a problem,
said Doug Carrillo, vice president of sales and marketing at Virgin Hotels, New York.

“We’ve all been in the position where we aren’t happy with the clothes we’ve packed for a trip, the weather changes unexpectedly or an incident happens and we’re down a pair of pants or shirt, so we wanted to team up with a like-minded brand to offer a stylish and effortless solution,” he said.

“Gap was a natural choice.”

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A graphic, courtesy of Gap, displays the shopping process

The hotel will then take over the process, ensuring that guests will never have to step outside their rooms. If consumers are out when the delivery arrives, they will arrive to see their reserved items tucked away in their closets.

“Enhancing on-property amenities and making more third-party goods and services through new partnership types is something I would expect to see more of,” said James McNally, director of business development at Fuzz Productions, Brooklyn, NY.

“On-demand industries have and continue to change customer expectations – travelers coming from many major cities will likely already be accustomed to having a range of products and services on-demand.”

Mobile-first focus
Other popular retailers may soon cotton on to this idea, especially as they aim to ramp up sales on mobile and even reach foreign travelers.

“Accessing Gap’s styles and our Reserve In Store technology through mobile is essential,” Gap’s Ms. Nichols said. “Today’s expectation is that information, entertainment, shopping and services are available at the touch of a button, and it was important to us to bring to life a program that reflects the way people shop, live and share – on-the-go.

“Together our two brands were able to bring this unique shopping experience to life through the hotel’s mobile app, Lucy, which is a great and easy way for travelers to get the most out of their hotel experience.”

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Guests may visit virginhotels.com on their smartphones to shop instantly

Virgin Hotels and Gap are kicking off the partnership by offering curated looks by Gap’s well-known styld.by editors and showcasing Virgin Hotels Chicago as the backdrop. Members of the hotel’s preference program, The Know, will also receive a special promotion they can redeem at Gap stores as well as online.

“Certain brands are going to be a good fit for this type of campaign, and others less so,” Mr. McNally said. “Gap is a good fit – if the airline loses that suitcase on your business trip, Gap’s got most people covered with a wide range of basics.

“For more fashion-conscious customers, or for brands that have less of a mass market positioning, this type of campaign would have to be configured differently.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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