South Florida Business Journal: Virgin Trains rolls out customizable corporate rates
Eddy Arriola, CEO of Apollo Bank in Miami, put off trying Virgin Trains, formerly known as Brightline, for months after it launched its Miami station a year ago.
Soon after his first ride, Arriola saw how the train line – which stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach – could open up business in new markets for his company, he told the Business Journal.
So he bought tickets for everybody in his company to take the train, and a plus-one.
Apollo Bank bought into one of Virgin Trains USA's corporate package, which allows businesses to buy tickets in bulk to distribute to employees and/or partners. The train line recently launched another business discount, a corporate rate that businesses can purchase that allows all its employees to ride the train as much as they'd like for less. That program was launched a month ago and one of the state's largest employers, Florida Power & Light, has already bought in, said Marcia Lowther, senior VP of sales at Virgin.
Arriola said he tied his company to Virgin Trains because he sees it not only as opening up more business oppurtunity in South Florida, but offering an alternative for commuters who come from Broward or Palm Beach counties.
He said Apollo Bank's Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Liguori used to complain about his hour-long drive from Broward to the bank's Miami office for ten years. Now Liguori takes the train to work every day, and the change has greatly improved productivity and his overall mood.
“Chief technology officer at a bank is a really important job, so if he comes to work happier and with a clear head, how can I put a price tag on that?” Arriola said.
Julie Sharenow, VP of sales for Virgin Trains, said Apollo Bank pays about $13 per round trip ride, slightly cheaper than normal fare. She said Virgin's corporate rate packages don't have set prices. The rate is negotiated and depends on things like volume, frequency of use and size of the company. A small company that uses the train often could get a better rate than a large business with only a few employees who ride sparingly.
Real estate, banking, healthcare, the marine industry and law are the verticals that most take advantage of Virgin Trains and its programs, Lowther said. Virgin has deals with the real estate firm CBRE, the accounting firm RSM US, the construction company Moss and a few yet-unnamed hospitals.
Arriola said he expects his bank to work more with Virgin Trains once all his employees have tried the service. He sees it as a kind of employee benefit, as well as a recruiting tool. His bank can now go after talent in places like Palm Beach, and any associated costs are worth it.
“People are more productive if they’re happier and they like going to work and they feel appreciated, so that’s sort of the trade-off for us,” he said.