One Cruise Line is Working Hard to Get the Attention of... South Dakotans? | CruiseHabit

One Cruise Line is Working Hard to Get the Attention of... South Dakotans?

A new cruise line has been taking bookings from across the United States, but can't seem to convince people in one particular state to book: South Dakota.  Folks in South Dakota seem to have the time to vacation, as the average full-time employee in South Dakota uses only 26% of their vacation days to travel. In fact, about 73% of South Dakotans have left over days each year!  That's why this line has a special deal (and message) just for The Mount Rushmore State...

Virgin Voyages South Dakota Billboard - "Rapid City.... You're not booking fast enough"
Virgin Voyages South Dakota Billboard - "Rapid City.... You're not booking fast enough"

To encourage residents of the 40th state admitted to the union to use some of those vacation days, Richard Branson's Virgin Voyages has put a series of billboards across the state, hoping to get some folks motivated - and this includes a special deal, just for first South Dakotan to book a trip on Virgin Voyages.  The deal includes:

  • $605 in Sailor Loot* to use on-board the Scarlet Lady
  • 2 first class tickets from the 605 to the 305 (605 is the area code in South Dakota, 305 is the dominant area code in the Miami area)
  • One-night hotel stay in Miami
  • Limo transfer to the ship in Miami

*"Sailor Loot* seems to be Virgin's term for onboard-credit - which you can read about here.

Virgin Voyages South Dakota Billboard - 6 Minutes to Book, 0 Reasons Not To, 5 Days at Sea
Virgin Voyages South Dakota Billboard - 6 Minutes to Book, 0 Reasons Not To, 5 Days at Sea
Virgin Voyages South Dakota Billboard - Sioux... Ya gonna book or what?
Virgin Voyages South Dakota Billboard - Sioux... Ya gonna book or what?

A Letter to South Dakota

Additionally, Richa Sir Richard Branson published an open letter in today's New York Times, urging them to book ASAP and join the Virgin Voyages fun in 2020.  You can read the letter below, or see a prettier printed copy in Virgin Voyages' trademark red color by clicking here.

AHOY SOUTH DAKTOA - RICHARD BRANSON HERE

Where are you?

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. 

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 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 to be 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. 

This is exactly what we're doing with Virgin Voyages. 

Our beautiful ships are designed to make sailing a well-being inspired, Adult-by-Design, never been done before holiday at sea. 

So, South Dakota, we personally invite you to join the rest of the United States of Virgin Voyages' Sailors and get on board. 

A worthy reward awaits those who answer the call. Are you in? 

We hope to sea you soon. 

-Richard Brandson

Richard Branson Writing Letter to South Dakota
Richard Branson Writing Letter to South Dakota

Billy's Take

As is often seen from Virgin companies, this is just smart marketing.  Sure, those billboards and the letter (well, ad) in the New York Times didn't come cheap, but you can get that some will rush to try and be the first to book, others will learn of the line for the first time, and the general exposure they'll get from such a stunt will likely pay far more nationally than any ad run specifically to residents of the United States' 46th most populous state.  Additionally, while we don't know how bookings are looking for Virgin Voyages, we can bet that with 49 of 50 states booked, I won't be alone when I sail Scarlet Lady (Virgin's first ship) in 2020.  All of this in mind, I feel it reasonably likely I was the first resident of Palm Beach County to book, and I'd like my $561 in "Sailor Loot" (onboard credit) for the privilege.  I'll just keep waiting.