English billionaire Richard Branson has targeted the only state in the United States — South Dakota — in which no one has booked a cruise on the Scarlet Lady, which is set to sail in 2020. Actually, that’s a Virgin Voyage — he doesn’t call them cruises.
In a New York Times open-letter ad late last week and in a billboard campaign in the state, Branson addressed the state to ask why residents haven’t yet booked on the voyages.
“Out of all the states in the U.S., you are the only one that hasn’t booked to get on board with us at Virgin Voyages,” he says. Branson’s representatives contacted the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, to tell them in advance about the New York Times ad and the local billboards.
“But South Dakota, for a state with a place called Rapid City, you’re really taking your time,” the ad reads. Branson goes on to mention that South Dakotans travel less than most other Americans, use a national low of only 4.3 vacation days to travel, plus about 73 per cent of them have leftover vacation days each year.
Billboards in the state read: “Rapid City…You’re not booking fast enough,” and “6 minutes to book, 0 reasons not to, 5 days a sea,” and “Sioux: Ya gonna book or what?”
Branson has also thrown in a booking incentive for South Dakotans to win $600 US in Virgin’s “sailor loot” plus chances to win first-class airfare and accommodation in Miami.
There are bookings from every other U.S. state and Branson says Virgin “can’t wait to take waves” with passengers.
Branson goes on in the ad to espouse the benefits of travel, according to him, and writes on his virgin.com blog that South Dakotans experience higher levels of stress.
“I’ve always been an advocate of the benefits travel provides — it opens the mind and heart, bolsters health, brings us closer to loved one, inspires us, and can be life changing.”
There is no word yet on any booking from South Dakota.
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