Hello Sir Richard

My Virgin Invitation

I receive an e-mail invite to attend a reception for Virgin Airlines in Toronto at the Thompson Hotel. A few days later, someone in sales calls and wants to know if I will be attending. “Will Richard Branson be attending?” I asked. “As a matter of fact, he will be” was the response. “Well then, yes, put me down”.

The Reception

As my friend and I arrive at the hotel entrance, we are greeted with a red carpet and a door man controlled entrance. We walk up the red carpet and introduce ourselves to a woman with a clipboard. But our names are not on the guest list. Ugh. My friend starts a somewhat animated discussion with the big doorman – “how can we not be on the list?” Well, they forgot to add us. We are literally about to be “bounced”. I start a conversation with the reception lady and drop some Virgin names. She checks with a higher up and a few minutes later we are on the list and welcomed in. Up the elevator to the rooftop lounge and we are amongst 200 or so other guests. It’s a beautiful June evening in downtown Toronto. A short time later, I notice Sir Richard enter the lounge area. A more masterful cocktail celebrity networker I have never seen! In approximately 90 minutes, he manages to say hello and chat with anyone and everyone in the entire lounge area. He also gives a short speech.

Meeting Sir Richard

As Sir Richard wanders near me, I reach out my hand and say “Hello Sir Richard, it’s nice to meet you” and introduce myself. Original? No, but saying “Sir” (as in knighthood) was pretty cool- as was remembering to say it. “Can I have picture with you?” “Of course Mark”. Picture taken, we chat for a few minutes. He is warm, genuine and interesting. Before I can take a sip of my drink, he excuses himself and moves onto the next group. He may be a masterful marketer but he is also real and a genuinely nice man. I didn’t have to travel far – a subway ride in Toronto – to meet the most interesting and famous person that I have met (so far).

•Mark Crone is an accomplished traveler, photographer, golfer, and skier. Visit his blog→ “Mark’s Travel Journal” to find out more!

•Or follow him on Twitter→ @marktravel.

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