Richard Branson Begs Landlocked South Dakotans to Book a Virgin Voyages Cruise

May 30, 2019

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Travelers from every single state in the US have booked a sailing with forthcoming Virgin Voyages. Except, that is, South Dakota.

South Dakota counts Mount Rushmore, Michael Jordan and Tom Brokaw amongst its bragging rights. Residents of the state, however, do not take a lot of vacation time: The average full-time employee in South Dakota only uses 26% of his or her vacation days for travel.

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In one of the most hilarious PR stunts we’ve witnessed in a long time, Sir Richard Branson took out an ad in today’s edition of The New York Times with an open letter to South Dakotans inviting them to cruise with his very own cruise line, Virgin Voyages. The new brand is putting the finishing touches on its inaugural ship, the Scarlet Lady — a swanky, adults-only vessel that will set sail early 2020.

“Where are you?” begins the plaintive message in a bottle. “Out of all the states in the US, you’re the only one that hasn’t booked to get on board with us at Virgin Voyages.”

Branson goes on to list a number of statistics about South Dakota professionals, none of which bode well for their relaxation habits. He ends the little love note with, “So, South Dakota, we personally invite you to join the rest of the United States of Virgin Voyages’ Sailors and get on board.”

Virgin Voyages has supplemented the open letter with a punny billboard campaign across South Dakota, with slogans such as, “Sioux . . . ya gonna book or what?” and “Rapid City, you’re not booking fast enough.”

To sweeten the deal, Virgin Voyages is offering some special swag to the first South Dakotan who books a cruise. The package includes $605 in Sailor Loot to use onboard the Scarlet Lady (a nod to the area code that covers, well, the entire Mount Rushmore State), and two first-class tickets “from the 605 to the 305” — that’s Branson speak for first-class tickets for two from South Dakota to Miami. The lucky South Dakotan will also receive a one-night hotel stay in Miami and a limo transfer from the hotel to the ship. Not a bad way to start a cruise.

Featured photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages. 

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