Avis promotes self-drive through OOH

By Poojya Trivedi , afaqs!, New Delhi | In OOH News | November 08, 2010
The car rental company plans to increase its business in the retail self-drive segment

The car rental company, Avis India, which is a joint venture between the East India Hotels Group (Oberoi) and Avis Europe, has rolled out an out of home campaign to promote self-drive rental in India.

Avis India launched a self-drive service in India a couple of years ago - but there was a lack of awareness about it. "Self-drive is very popular across the globe, even in countries such as China, where population and road conditions are similar to that of India. Looking at the success rate, we introduced self-drive in India a couple of years ago - but it was not well-promoted. So, beginning this year, we started promoting self-drive in India," says Raja Sood, national marketing head, Avis India.

To create awareness and create a culture for self-drive, the company launched two driving tours: Magical Deserts of Rajasthan and Himalayan Expedition, wherein the interested travellers can rent an SUV at Rs 2,000-Rs 2,500 per day.

The campaign, which initiated from New Delhi early this year, was later introduced in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai. Also, the fleet, which consisted of only Tata Safari vehicles earlier, now includes models such as Ford Endeavour and Mitshubishi Pajero. "There are about 30-35 cars dedicated to this campaign," says Sood.

As a part of its marketing initiative, Avis India has signed a joint marketing promotion with Ford India to increase awareness about self-drive holidays within India. To promote this, the company, which has been present in India for 11 years, used out of home (OOH) promotion.

The outdoor campaign was carried out in Cyber City, Gurgaon, where the company covered the lift doors, wall panels, parking ramp and scrollers across six buildings with its brand. "We tried covering most of the touch points where corporates are housed," explains Sood.

Through the campaign, the company is mainly targeting the retail customers. "There is huge focus on B2C retail segment, wherein we encourage customers to do a lot of self-drive," says Sood.

He adds that the concept of self-drive is not so popular in India - bad conditions of the roads, chaotic traffic conditions and availability of drivers at low cost are the main reasons behind this. "Outside India, 95 per cent of the business is self-drive. However, in India, it is completely opposite - where only 5 per cent of the business is self-drive," Sood tells afaqs!. Avis plans to increase the share of the self-drive business in India by at least 10 per cent.

The company, with its Gurgaon based OOH agency Salt, used about 10 lift doors, six wall panels, three scrollers and branded them for a period of 30 days. Additionally, parking ramp branding was also used to promote the self-drive. The company, which used digital in a big way, also sent 3,50,000-4,00,000 e-mailers for a month.

The campaign was primarily targeted towards 28-45 year old males in SEC A and A+. "Our customers are corporate-guys who are also active credit card users and 70 per cent of them have travelled abroad," says Sood.

The company is also running a print campaign in select magazines and has done SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing) to promote the website. The company is encouraging the B2C retail customers to come online and book through the website.

Until now, the company's primary focus was the B2B segment and hotels - but now, with the changing psyche of consumers, the company has also shifted its focus towards self-drive rentals in India. "The audience today is more aware - they want privacy and they want to explore their holiday their way. This is when we felt the need to introduce self-drive in India," Sood says.

He adds that the increase in disposable incomes, improved traffic conditions and paradigm shift in the way in which the travel industry works now has added to their benefit. "It was more about the awareness and the right time," Sood explains its late-entry in India with the prevalent self-drive model.

However, even after the launch, the company has been tackling the issue of awareness. To test this, the company conducted a research which threw up surprising results for Avis. "The customers are actually not aware that they can get rented cars which they can drive. Customers were surprised when we introduced them to self-drive," tells Sood

The company has an overall fleet of about 1200 cars, out of which 15 per cent are dedicated to self-drive. The company plans to add more cars to the existing fleet and hopes to cross the 2000 car mark by 2012.

For the financial year 2010-11, the marketing budget of the company is Rs 2 crore (US$500,000). Of the overall marketing budget, 30-35 per cent is allocated to print, 30-35 per cent is allocated to online (e-marketing and e-commerce development), 20 per cent is towards BTL (below-the-line) and OOH; and 10 per cent is for various sponsorships and partnerships.

The company has a turnover of about Rs 89 crore ($20 million) in India and of the overall turnover, 40-45 per cent is from corporates, 45 per cent from hotels (group and non-group) and 5 per cent is retail volume, which the company intends to take to 15-20 per cent by 2012.

In India, the company has tie ups with 350 corporate and 35 hotels across India, which includes the group (Trident and Oberoi hotels) as well as non-group hotels such as Hyatt, Courtyard by Mariott and other leading hotels.

The company is into segments such as airport transfers, full day car rentals, chauffeur-drive, self-drive, outstation tours, intra-city tours, hotel services and long term rent-outs for events and conferences.

In India, the company operates out of 18 cities and 47 rental locations. It has presences in major metros, mini metros and prominent travel destinations such as Agra, Jaipur and Shimla, among other places.

A couple of months ago, the company also launched a self-drive campaign for Indian consumers to Europe and Thailand. To promote this campaign, the company used the print medium.

The print campaign promoted self-drive holidays outside India (Europe, Thailand), which consisted of advertorials; brochures to educate on the destinations, routes and travel tips. The print campaign was carried out in Mail Today (advertorials), business magazines, Hospitality India and Explore the World.

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