Virgin Voyages is taking a novel approach to raise awareness of its new adults-only cruise ship, setting sail next year.
Scarlet Lady has booked passengers from all over the United States — except for South Dakota. So Virgin is launching a campaign enticing them to book, including an “open letter” running today in The New York Times from company founder Richard Branson.
The effort includes clever billboards around the states with copy that includes “Rapid City…You’re not booking fast enough” and “6 Minutes to Book, 0 reasons not to, 5 days at sea.” (605 is South Dakota’s area code.)
The letter from Branson reads: “Ahoy South Dakota. Richard Branson here. Where are you? Out of all the states in the U.S., you’re the only one that hasn’t booked to get on board with us at Virgin Voyages. Oh, a huge thank you to the other 49 states that have — we can’t wait to make waves with you. It’s sure to be a cruise experience unlike any holiday you’ve ever taken.
“But South Dakota, for a state with a place called Rapid City, you’re really taking your time. I was beginning to take your absence personally, and then I read an interesting statistic. Did you know that on average you South Dakotans travel less than most other Americans. South Dakotans use a national low of 4.3 vacation days to travel, just 26 percent of your average dedicated time off.
“I’ve always been an advocate of the benefits travel provides— it opens the mind and heart, bolsters health, brings us closer to loved ones, inspires us, and can be life changing. I believe this is so important for the human spirit that I’ve spent most of my life working to find ways to make exploring our planet more efficient, more sustainable and more exciting.”
To give them even more of a nudge, Virgin Voyages is offering the first South Dakotan who books a cruise a prize package that includes $605 in Sailor Loot to use onboard the Scarlet Lady, two first-class tickets from South Dakota to Miami, a one-night hotel stay in Miami and a limo transfer to the ship in Miami.