For years, the high street has played second-best to the rise of internet shopping and stores have seen a shift towards ‘experiential retail’. With over 80 per cent of UK customers preferring to book holidays online, Virgin Holidays reached out to design agency YourStudio to create a physical retail concept to compete against digitization by enticing holidaymakers to try before they fly.

Following successful locations at Manchester and Glasgow airports, ‘V-Room’ has arrived at the Liverpool ONE shopping centre. The flagship store incorporates airport lounge-style seating, a prosecco bar and a ‘lucky red’ vending machine – colour-matched to the cherry-red uniforms of the hosts – as a response to the desire for human-focused experiences and to offer a glimpse into the luxury of a Virgin holiday.

Upon entry, a hotel lobby-style reception puts customers in the holiday mood, with a functioning bar as the welcoming point for the start of a personalized consultation journey. An enclosed ‘sensory pod’ transports customers away from their everyday lives and stimulates the imagination to get them ‘holiday ready’. A virtual upper-class cabin – complete with digital plane windows – offers a preview of the premium experience to incentivize upgrades. 'As clouds float past, guests, prosecco in hand, feel one step closer to their holiday experience,’ says a spokesperson for the design team, whose core priority was to 'customize guests’ interactions and personalize the service experience.'

A hidden door reveals a ‘secret cinema’, complete with popcorn, refreshments and surround sound, which immerses customers in a showcase of action-packed holiday experiences, from safaris to city breaks. The goal is to give customers a flavour of what the company offers by encompassing the brand spirit from the moment of arrival until the flights are booked – a hands-on experience that cannot be recreated online.