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Virgin Airlines and LinkedIn: An odd couple that may just work out

I remember the days when the biggest decision in choosing an airline was based on price and whether it was direct or not.

For me, Qantas has always been known for their service, maturity of airhost, included meal service and top-end price, with Jetstar as their no frills option with none of the included amenities which reduced your initial outlay.

In comparison, Virgin always had the younger hosts in their stunning bright red uniforms and a meal service that you could opt in for during the flight. Virgin’s flight prices were frequently more cost-effective, however by the time you purchased food and a drink there is very little difference in total cost.

Qantas has been the market leader in the Australian skies for many years so if price is no longer comparative why would you go anywhere else?

Many consumers do not realise is that there is a war in the skies and it is being driven by technology.

 

How Virgin is Competing

Virgin’s strategy seems to be very different from what we have seen in the past. They are competing for the market in the skies by offering an alternative to basic entertainment. In a new world where many of us are trying to focus on self-improvement, Virgin is now providing the opportunity to invest in yourself through free online courses offered by Lynda.com, which is now owned by LinkedIn.

“On Virgin flights equipped with Wi-Fi technology that makes it possible to watch high-definition videos, customers will be able to view thousands of videos in Lynda.com‘s library at no cost” wrote Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn’s vice president of consumer products in an interview with Mercury News.

There has been a diverse range of short courses including; photography, financial planning, food and nutrition and an introduction to business in Asia. The courses are shortened for the flights and you can finish the remaining modules after landing.

 

An Interesting Synergy

Interestingly enough, this seems to be just as much of an advertising opportunity for LinkedIn as it is a push to get more customers by Virgin. In 2015, LinkedIn purchased Lynda.com for $1.5bn USD. Some analysts were skeptical about this purchase, not seeing the direct correlation between online course learning and a recruiting/networking platform. With LinkedIn stock having taken a huge 43% plunge in 2016, they had to do something to prove their success.

Enter, the opportunity with Virgin. Now to me, this seems like a great opportunity for synergy. LinkedIn was looking for a captive audience for their online courses through Lynda.com, and Virgin is continuously trying to differentiate themselves in the market by putting their customers first. This is also not the first time LinkedIn has offered free courses for Lynda.com, likely in the hopes that people will be willing to pay for them in the future after getting a taste onboard.

 

What We Can Learn From This Strategy

Both companies wanted to do something different, and the benefits for both are quite clear. This got me thinking a little about synergy. What other opportunities could there be outside the box? The world of technology is constantly changing, but if you look at what your customers want and put them first, perhaps you could find some opportunities around the corner that no one has considered before.