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50 Innovators of the Year 2022

Virgin Incentives— Specialists in employee engagement and corporate rewards

Virgin Incentives— Specialists in employee engagement and corporate rewards

Have you ever had a significant other, a friend, or a family member surprise you with a small gift “just because?” Feels great, right?

You can apply this simple idea to employee engagement in the professional world. Even though employees receive a salary, people still get a spark of joy and excitement when offered a genuine and spontaneous gift.

Recognizing and rewarding employees leads to greater employee engagement, which increases retention and helps create a more positive workplace. In a survey conducted by Great Place To Work, employees cited personal recognition as the top way a company or manager could get them to produce great work.

Organizations and enterprises seeking to reward and recognize their employees’ efforts in an innovative manner should look no further than Virgin Incentives. Virgin Incentives help you create memorable rewards for your clients & employees. Virgin Incentives is an experience days and digital gift cards provider. At Virgin Incentives, their purpose is to make every experience extraordinary for your customers and your internal teams.  They support U.K. and USA businesses to create a thriving employee culture, with engagement, loyalty, and performance at the heart of their organization.

At Virgin Incentives, they fully understand that it’s a great feeling for employees and customers to be recognized, valued, and rewarded. They make that happen with flexible corporate reward solutions based on an unrivaled range of experiential rewards—whether you have ten employees or 10,000.

In conversation with Melanie White, The Executive Vice President of Virgin Experience Gifts

Q. Talk about your industry experience and goals?

In 2021 we acquired Cloud 9 Living, a family-run business with 15 years of experience in inspiring gifters with hand-picked exciting experiences guaranteed to delight everyone. After our successful acquisition, we rebranded the business to Virgin Experience Gifts to join other Virgin U.S. operations, such as Virgin Hotels, Virgin Holidays, and Virgin Voyages.

Virgin Incentives is the B2B arm of Virgin Experience Gifts, working specifically with corporate firms for reward and recognition and employee and customer gifts. 

Whether it’s a birthday, a thank you, or a farewell, there are over 2,400 experiences that are perfect for unique and thoughtful employee benefits and rewards. From supercar driving experiences, golf lessons, or wine tasting tours—we cover all gifting bases.

We aim to support businesses in developing a healthy work culture that prioritizes employee engagement, loyalty, and performance. We believe that being recognized, appreciated, and rewarded is a beautiful experience for employees. We make that happen with incentive solutions based on an unrivaled choice of experiential awards. 

Q. How do you go about innovation in your organization?

Our brand motto is, “screw it - let’s do it,”— so we’re constantly innovating and driving our business forward. We stay curious and identify gaps in the marketplace. We listen to our customers and internal teams and set ambitious growth objectives.

We’re constantly innovating our product range and launching brand new experiences that we know will be loved by everyone. We also keep our ear to the ground, ready to react to new industry trends. During Covid-19, we innovated a brand new “online” experience category for people to enjoy in the comforts of their homes. This included lots of new virtual/at-home experiences and some tangible gift experiences, including the most popular “bake with a legend masterclass” for up to 20 people.

We’re constantly innovating our marketing & tech stacks. We recently launched a brand new website, which included new functionality of live chat, new social media channels, and many new digital brand ads. We’re also partnering with new industry partners such as Virgin Red, THNKs, Mediavine, Prezze, and Pen International.

We aim to become the global leader in experience gifting and put experiences at the top of every wish list. To scale our business for this global growth, we give all our people the necessary skills and innovative tools to grow, which in turn helps us to grow our brand.

Q. Talk us through a single innovative factor that has contributed to your business growth?

The previous company, Cloud 9 Living, did not have a corporate team. As part of this, we now have dedicated sales and marketing resources. We’ve rebranded the business from Cloud 9 Living to Virgin Incentives. We have invested in a new technology stack, including a new website,  We also used our expertise from the U.K. (£13 million turnovers forecasted for the current financial year) and mirrored our processes, reporting, and data insights to grow in the U.S. We’ve leveraged relationships from our U.K. market with clients, employees, and sister companies in the U.S.

Q. How do you go about business model innovation when facing competition?

We set clear goals for all areas of our business, short-term and longer-term. Our people are the heart of our company, and their expertise and love for our products & brand are what make the difference. The reward and recognition market is growing in importance, primarily as many teams now operate in a hybrid working model, and companies are looking for exciting ways to engage their people.

Our products make incentives and rewards fun and memorable, and ultimately, we make dreams come true, so this is where we feel where we’re different. We also focus our growth within specific industries and partner with H.R., Reward, and People teams.

Q. What does the future hold for you?

After a first successful year, we have ambitious and exciting plans to grow. We will further invest in our people, enhance our technology platforms, and continue to innovate and evolve our products. We want to actively disrupt the gifting & rewarding market—giving and receiving gifts should be fun and exciting. We want to get that out to everyone across the U.S., so we’re expanding our product range to include new and fun experience categories. This year we’ve launched over 150 new experiences across multiple locations, including San Francisco, Charleston, Savannah, Las Vegas, Orlando, Houston, and Albuquerque. We’re also going to start offering corporate customers many fantastic promotions and incentives, so they can get involved and consider us for their next reward & recognition scheme.

Driving Virgin Incentives to help firms memorably reward employees and clients

Melanie White is the Executive Vice President of Virgin Experience Gifts, formerly Cloud 9 Living. She joined the company in 2015, focusing on product development, and immediately secured several new experience partners.

Before her tenure with Virgin Experience Gifts, Melanie was an accomplished sales professional handling key accounts for BCBG Max Azria Group. Melanie holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Fordham University and an associate’s degree in fashion merchandising management from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

“Virgin Incentives are all about giving more memorable rewards.”

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