Hello Sir Richard

I receive an e-mail invite from someone in sales at Virgin Airlines. They are holding a reception at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto and want 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”.

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 the woman with the 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 in. Up the elevator to the rooftop lounge and we are amongst 200 or so others. 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. He also gives a short speech.

As he 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 person that I have met.

•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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