A funky youth walks into a hotel and bargains with a sari-clad receptionist for accommodation at a good discount. The lady wouldn't offer him anything more than 10 per cent. Much to his dismay, she gladly offers 40 per cent concession to a middle-aged man, who promptly sticks his tongue out at the youth while holding up his smartphone with the MakeMyTrip app on his screen.
In another ad, a true-blue babumoshai emerges from a station in search of a taxi. He is surprised to see a female cabbie, who rattles off names of hotels in the town and offers, in exchange for Rs 500, her phone displaying the same app that could help him make a quick booking and get a good discount as well. Not to be outsmarted, the man asks for his money back when the cabbie asks for the phone.
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The actors are Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh, two of Bollywood's popular young stars, and their playful characters drive home the message in the twin ads that are part of the new "Befikar Book Kar" campaign of MakeMyTrip. The campaign is the first instance of the leading online travel agency roping in celebrities, and its focus is no longer on appealing to our wanderlust with promises of easy online ticketing but on booking hotel rooms at the best rates.
According to Saujanya Shrivastava, the company's chief marketing officer, "Like the brand, both Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt represent the new age of Indians - confident, bold, and unafraid to try new things. In their cinematic journey too they are experimentative, have fun in whatever they do and give everything its maximum due. Like true travellers who push forth on their travel ambitions, their persona is incredibly aspirational. Ranveer and Alia resonate powerfully with young India. It's a great fit with the brand, which we hope can inspire more of India to travel."
He points out that the hotels segment in India is underpenetrated and highly fragmented. "Over the last year, the market has exploded as a result of increasing mobile penetration and adoption. As per a recent report by Millward Brown on the Indian hotels segment, MakeMyTrip emerged as the leader with 25 per cent online hotels market share among all OTAs (online travel agents). The company is looking at category expansion by tapping audiences who are not in the online space as yet."
The campaign, he adds, highlights compelling and relevant benefits of booking hotels on MakeMyTrip such as the widest range of hotels to choose from, great deals, trust and reliability - all of which are key drivers of online hotel bookings.
When asked about the target audience, he says: "This campaign speaks to those who book hotels offline, though they may own a smartphone and be otherwise online."
Bobby Pawar, managing director, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide, the agency that conceptualised the campaign, says the focus of the campaign was on a singular fact - a bulk of the travellers still prefer to walk into a hotel and book. "They believe they can get a better deal 'directly'. The idea was to dramatically highlight the inadequacy of this 'direct' approach while reinforcing the MakeMyTrip advantage."
According to reports, the 15-year-old company has set a target of doubling its market share in the online hotel booking space in the next two years to 50 per cent. With hotel bookings offering much higher margins than air ticketing, it was perhaps only a matter of time that MakeMyTrip would renew its focus.
Pawar explains that through the new campaign, MakeMyTrip aims at "owning the category task of getting fence sitters to book hotels online". He promises an aggressive 360-degree marketing campaign activating every possible touch point with the consumer. Apart from a presence on traditional media channels, "there will be an aggressive and sharply targeted outdoor and cinema plan, with a lot of emphasis on the digital media as well".
Budget: Rs 10-15 crore
Agency: Publicis Worldwide