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Branson: Virgin will have quality porn

Branson: Virgin will have quality porn

Sir Richard Branson made a great first impression on his new contemporaries in the hotel business during a luncheon Q+A session on day two at ALIS.


After being escorted on stage by four Virgin flight attendants (he did have a recent skiing accident), he wasted no time taking a shot at Marriott saying his hotels will be fun and there will be no frustrations. ?If you want breakfast at 3 a.m. you should be able to get it, and you won?t be banned from watching sexy films. We will have great quality sexy films.? The overflow luncheon crowd howled. In fact, the publicity surrounding the news that Marriott will be pulling porn from its in-room entertainment systems had people smirking throughout the conference.


The hotel industry?s new rock star was short on details about his recently announced hotel company, but I found him entertaining and inspiring nonetheless. While Branson does not yet understand how really difficult it can be to deliver breakfast at 3 a.m., you can tell he will make every effort to break with tradition. While Ian Schrager told me Branson and his team don?t have the experience to compete at a high level just yet, I think the Virgin brand and the pizzaz Branson will bring to the business will get noticed. He will steal share right away. The question is whether he will be able to keep it.


Here is what Branson did tell the crowd at ALIS:

  • While the first hotel won?t open for two years, he would like to see Virgin hotels in the major cities to which Virgin flies. Amusingly, he said one of the first hotels will be in New Mexico, in the mountains next to his spaceport (Virgin Galactic is still working on commercial space flights with more than 450 people signed up at somewhere round US$250,000 a trip).
  • He was very short on details of any pending deals, only to say that his team is out there and in serious negotiations. He alluded to the fact that it is very tough and competitive to find the right sites. We will see if he overpays.
  • He believes success has everything to do with the people on his team. ?Virgin has been success because of its people, who are willing to do everything for us,? he said. ?If people believe in the product, you can be successful.?
  • He more or less said Virgin hotels will be the ?unbrand.? ?There will be no Virgin stamp,? he said, adding that his hotels will be fun, unique, entertaining and 4-star. ?Many hotels are quite dull and boring. We will have fun.?
  • Lastly, he said, ?If we fall flat, we will move on.?

Branson always dares to dream and I, for one, look forward to seeing where he takes his hotel product?and how the rest of the dull hotel industry reacts. It should be fun to watch and chronicle.


Welcome to the hotel business, Sir Richard.

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