Yatra.com is already one of India’s leading online travel portals. For Pratik Mazumder, Head of Marketing & Strategic Alliance, Yatra.com, the task now is to drive brand preference and create a distinct identity for the brand keeping in mind its overall ideology of creating happy travellers.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Yatra.com is one of India’s leading online travel portals today. It provides reservation facility for more than 3,800 hotels across 336 cities in India and more than 90,000 hotels around the world. Marketing has always been an integral part of Yatra’s overall strategy, right from the launch of the Happy Travellers Campaign (a 360-degree marketing campaign) to the announcement of Salman Khan as brand ambassador. Now, with the new campaign ‘Har yatra se pehle Yatra. com’, Yatra has further built on the overall ideology of ‘Creating happy travellers’. The concept behind the TVC is to showcase Yatra.com as a complete travel partner, providing the best deals and travel experiences. Salman Khan, who has come on board as a brand ambassador and investor, is the face of Yatra.com’s new marketing campaign in India and the US
Pratik Mazumder, Head of Marketing & Strategic Alliance at Yatra.com, has more than 18 years of experience in Marketing with special emphasis on brand and product management, marketing communications including advertising, celebrity management, events, sales, DM, CRM, PR, outdoor, research and retail merchandising, trade engagement and consumer brand experience. He has wide experience in the services sector, including Telecom, Travel & Tourism, Financial Services, airlines and hotels, along with real estate. Also, he possesses a deep understanding of the digital and e-commerce business. His forte has been strategic brand planning and brand architecture mapping, consumer segmentation and relationship marketing, advertising and consumer brand experience. Prior to joining Yatra.com, Mazumder has been associated with prominent brands like Bharti Airtel and OgilvyOne Worldwide.
Q] What is the problem that you are trying to address with your recent campaign with Salman Khan?
The fact we are trying to establish is that right now, with broadband penetration crossing a hundred million, there are early adopters who are coming into the category. We are trying to get a larger share of mind and become a dominant Online Travel Agency (OTA) brand in the consumer space and increase top of mind and saliency using this campaign. We want to become the number one brand that customers think of when they are trying to book a domestic or an international flight ticket. Our second objective is the reason we signed on Salman Khan: He is the only celebrity, at present in India, who cuts across both masses and the classes; in metros as well as in Tier I and Tier II towns. This is a highly fragmented market in which the top four to five brands in the holidays section of the business control less than 10% market share. So, it is primarily an unorganized retail trade. Once the brand is able to create a strong preference and identity for itself, the market share and business will obviously increase.
Q] Are you saying that because Salman Khan has bought a stake in Yatra.com?
The relationship with Salman Khan is multilevel. There are three dimensions to it. One dimension is that he has come on board as a shareholder of Yatra. The second is that he is going to be the brand ambassador, spokesperson and the face of Yatra and in a sense epitomizes Mr Yatra. He is the guy who goes out getting the best deals and will do anything for his customers, the way he does in movies and does anything to provide entertainment to viewers.
The third part of the relationship with Salman is that we’ve associated with his charitable trust ‘Being Human Foundation’. For every ticket or holiday that we sell, we will be making a contribution from our side to his foundation. That is going to be the cornerstone of our CSR activity going forward for the next few years.
Q] What is the kind of growth that you are expecting? How are you looking at the current summer season in terms of travel and holidays?
We are looking at doubling our business in the next two years. And this season we are looking at a 50% growth. We are undertaking a 360-degree marketing campaign. Apart from the television commercial that started with the IPL this season, there are activations happening along with communication on Outdoor, Print, Radio and obviously Digital.
Q] How much are you spending on the campaign totally?
The whole campaign would be around Rs 30 crore. A large share would be television.
Q] Do you think the campaign has been successful in getting the message of most preferred OTA across?
It has been successful. In all our researches, it has come out very strongly. It goes very highly on all emotional and analytical parameters.
Q] The campaign talks about meeting the commitment of one particular deal of providing 50% off on an airline ticket. From a consumer’s point of view, it is a bit unrealistic. Through this campaign, are you trying to say that you are going to offer unrealistic deals at Yatra?
That is a creative exaggeration. That is like saying that someone picks up a cola and jumps off a mountain or will run through a newly constructed site from top to bottom, rather than taking the stairs.
Q] Yes, but that creative exaggeration does not include numbers. Over here, people will come expecting 50% off on every deal; and if they do not get it, they might be put off.
By the way, there are 50% off products that we do have on our website depending on sales, destinations, products and the inventory that we may have pre-bought. But having said that, if the residual message to the consumer is that Yatra provides the best deals, at least the consumer will check out our deals before making a travel decision. And if that happens, the campaign would have done justice. So, it is about driving brand preference and creating a distinct identity for the brand. There was no clear identity amongst any OTAs and everybody had done some piecemeal stuff. So we set out a clear objective last year when we defined our brand positioning of trying to create happy travellers. We are now showing in a creative way the length that we can go to get you the best deal.
Q] McCann Erickson, Delhi is the creative agency for this campaign. But in 2010 your agency was TBWA, in 2009 it was Rediffusion DY&R, in 2007 it was Leo Burnett and in 2006 when you started your operations, it was Everest Brand Solutions. Five different creative agencies in the last six years. What have been the developments within the organization that has led to so many agency changes?
I cannot comment in retrospective about what happened before late 2009, as I came in around that time. By that time, we had Rediffusion on board. We moved to TBWA through a competitive pitch. But I think it would have been more to do with the lack of meeting of minds and the juncture at which the brand was. It needed a continuous irrigation and fresh thinking. I guess in 2006-07, when you start up and trust a particular agency, and if that doesn’t deliver, then you have to take steps. When you have business requirements to grow exponentially, the category is growing that fast and if there isn’t really that meeting of minds, then it is better to part ways. In 2008-09, there was huge recession and the travel industry went through a bad time. So it would have been the financials that didn’t work out.
Right now, TBWA has been brought on to help us plan the creative strategy, the brand positioning and growth for the next few years. Now we have huge aspirations and the requirement to grow at double digit rates. The agency wasn’t in a position to keep up with those trends. So we decided to have a competitive pitch. We called two-three agencies and the best agency was selected. It is a natural growing up process. There are agencies which have nurtured brands and helped them grow over a period of 10-15 years and that would have been an ideal situation. But sometimes, agency relations are all peopledependent and if there isn’t a meeting of minds, then it is better to part ways.
Honestly, I do not see anything wrong in it. Everybody is here to do business. If we are not able to provide the insights that will deliver cutting edge communication, there is no use being just another client in an agency’s roster.
Q] On the media side too, you had Motivator some time back. And now it is Zenith Optimedia.
Yes, Motivator was the agency for three odd years. The reasons for this change would also be similar. We are growing exponentially and over the last few years, our media investments have quadrupled. Motivator was a very small agency. When we did the pitch process, we did look at Maxus, another Group M agency, Madison and Lodestar too. We just found that Zenith’s understanding and their completely ROI-driven model were suitable. We felt fitted at the juncture where Yatra as a brand needed help.