How brands are navigating the new normal
- In our latest interview series, we talk to brands to understand how they are coping with the new normal and their strategies towards navigating these difficult times.
- Mayur Hola, Head of Global Brand,
OYOHotels & Homes voiced his optimism about the future with us as he told us all that OYO will be doing to make things safer for all its stakeholders.
The world is slowly opening up, trying to get back to a normal routine. With cities opening up, so are businesses.
Travel has been an industry that has impacted massively. With people stuck at homes, many travel-related businesses came to a complete standstill.
However, with flights slowly opening up, people are still cautious. People are still only travelling if there is an absolute necessity. We are probably still some time away from people getting comfortable with travelling for leisure, things are definitely moving in that direction.
In an attempt to understand how things have been for an organization which has its core businesses closely wired with the travel industry, we caught up with
Hola not only told us how the organization has been coping all this while but also shared some really quirky learnings from the
Q) The world as we knew it has perhaps changed forever. The post-Covid world will be very different, and so will be the consumer’s expectations from different brands that have been a part of their lives. As a brand, how are you prepping up to meet these uncertain expectations of the future?
The world isn’t in a great place right now (figuratively). But it’s not all bad. I’ll try and inject a few mg of optimism here.
Women leaders are managing their countries brilliantly. The world needs more of them. Doctors (and the entire healthcare system) are helping hundreds of thousands of people make a full recovery. Millions of people are speaking up for issues that matter and not sitting on the fence. There are countless sensitive and caring souls willing to help each other and our fellow creatures in the real world. Billions of dollars are being donated. Amongst it all, SpaceX has sent a manned space flight to the International Space Centre.
People are people and while the worst amongst us get seen and noticed, it is the best within all of us that will bring the world back to being the imperfect little rock we know and love.
The same is true for brands. We do the right things to support our universe and sooner than later they come back to support us. We’ve been helping our hotel partners reopen and sanitise their spaces. We are informing our customers about the efforts we are making together to welcome them back and keep them safe. And today many are returning to us.
Q) How have the past few months been for the brand? Since hospitality has been one of the worse affected, what is your expectation from the rest of the year?
We’ve been set free! Free from office, from 9 to 5, from conference rooms and belts and creased trousers, from blow dried hair and appropriate attire. We can live in PJs, work from wherever!
So we will actually see more domestic tourism coming our way than ever before. However we aren’t a tourism-dependent hospitality brand. We get a huge number of same city and business travel bookings. We’re seeing a lot of our pre-lockdown booking patterns make an encouraging comeback and are fairly positive in the long term. We might see a lot of work calls being made from hilltops and beaches later in the year, but that’s a whole other matter.
Q) How did you, as an organization, deal with this dynamic situation? How did you ensure you kept the morale of your teams high?
Being optimistic and helpful gets one past a lot of the doomsday theories. When you focus on hosting those who need to quarantine, on feeding the hungry and contributing monetarily and in all ways possible for you including housing Lucy the beagle and her doctor father (they were pushed out by their society, we helped), then keeping morale high is not a challenge. Our job was to stay open, help and communicate with those who needed help so they knew where to come. We did that.
Q) As a marketer, what have your key learnings from this experience been so far?
In no particular order, here are some learnings that may or may not help market stuff.
1. Mahabharat over Netflix.
2. Ludo over PS4.
3. Daru over dawa.
4. Motiyon waaley masks over motiyon waaley daant.
5. Binge wash over binge watch.
6. Namaste over shake it baby.
7. Sonu Sood over Akshay Kumar.
8. Ghar ki daal over bahar ki murgi.
9. Air India over hot air.
10. Kirana store over app store.
Q) How difficult was it to figure out your communication strategy during these adverse times, considering it is easy for consumers to misread
Difficulty is relative. Here’s what was easy. Working together became super easy, as everyone realised that we need to help each other. Deciding to be empathetic and sensitive was easy. Making sure that all our acts and our communication about those acts, was designed to be helpful and not tactical. All this was easy.
Q) Going forward, what is your marketing strategy going to be for the next few months, which from where we are now, is still shrouded with uncertainty? Do you think, marketing as we know it, will also change in the post-Covid world? Will your priorities as a marketer change?
As a country we need to get back to work, get the economy going, get life back on track. This is what we know and it is what we will do. Every single brand’s strategy has to be to support that. So as folks go about reviving life and business, we will scrub our spaces and protect them.
‘Sanitised Stays’ is our strategy to build consumer trust and meet their expectations. We’ll focus our efforts to deliver this on-ground and convey the same via all channels and mediums to our partners and guests. This will include some key partnerships which we’ll announce soon. We will play our part in helping India reopen. Finally, the world will find a way to recover, we just will. I don’t know if that is visionary. But it is the vision OYO has.