Does Richard Branson still have the gift for business?

Does Richard Branson still have the gift for business?

Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is what’s known in today’s business world as a disrupter. That means he goes into business fields with new and innovative ideas that can be felt through the entire industry. However, Sir Richard has been doing this since 1968, long before the term disrupter was ever coined. That’s not to say that the self-made billionaire hasn’t had his share of stumbles in the business world. For every Virgin Records, Virgin Galactic, and Virgin Atlantic there’s been Virgin Cola, Virgin Cars and even Virgin Brides. More recently, Sir Richard has announced the inaugural plans for his vacation cruise line. Has he tapped into today’s cultural zeitgeist or will this venture be a flight of fancy?

On Valentine’s Day of this year, Sir Richard announced that Virgin Voyages is now open for bookings and divulged how his cruise line will work. The aim of Virgin Voyages is said to be competing with such popular party hotspots as Ibiza, Spain or Saint-Tropez in France. With the way it’s been described in the media, Virgin Voyages almost seems like it’s going to be a Coachella or Burning Man on the high seas with stops in Havana and Virgin’s own private beach club in the Bahamas. While most cruise lines focus on families and older couples, Virgin Voyages will cater more to the ‘Millennial’ generation who supposedly enjoy experiences more than material goods.

While that may sound good in theory the Millennial generation is also said to be woefully underpaid in today’s job market compared to previous generations and are burdened with record financial debt. While Sir Richard may be socially conscious when it comes to most of his ventures, social consciousness comes at a price that can only be passed on to the customer. While the experience on Virgin Voyages may be an amazing one, the experience may be priced out of range for most of his target demographic. If Virgin Voyages fails to catch on it won’t be the end of Virgin Group or anything like that but it could make investors less likely to engage in Branson’s future ventures if it does not succeed.