TOI: Passion Statement

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 08, 2014
The print publication has launched a new property to bring together like-minded people to follow their passions and learn from each other.

Yesterday, The Times of India (ToI) Group announced its latest initiative. Titled Times Passion Trails, it is an opportunity for readers to indulge in the passions they follow. It is a platform to bring together likeminded people.

Rahul Kansal

Times Passion Trails provides six opportunities. People can register themselves on the website and choose the passion they want to follow. The opportunities available to them are: 500 km mountain biking trail from Manali to Leh (from September 6-17); Five-day culinary trail from Srinagar to Gulmarg exploring Kashmiri cuisines (in October); wildlife photography in the sanctuaries of Assam (in December); gastronomy delight at Dhabas from Delhi to Amritsar (in late December); spotting snow leopards in Ladakh for eight days, (in February 2015) and creative writing in the Garhwal Hills (in early March 2015).

A renowned trainer will mentor each passion. Those on board include Rajesh Kalra (biking guru), Maryam Reshi (Editor, TOI Annual Times Food Guide; for Kashmiri Culinary Trail); Ajeet Bajaj (for spotting snow leopards), Kunal Kapoor (for Dhaba Trail), Rajesh Bedi (for Wildlife Photography Trail), and Ruskin Bond, Prasoon Joshi, Chetan Bhagat and Bachi Karkaria (for Creative Writing).

ToI is looking at driving online registrations for the initiative and has decided to take only 15 members in each trail. afaqs! learnt that the initiative has got 200 applications in just one day. Participants have to choose their trails, and then interact with the expert. Only the best 15 get selected. Those registering will have to bear the expenses of travel, though a part of it is subsidised by ToI.

The experts will train the participant for the trails before they embark on the journey. A microsite, created for the property, gives details such as where the participant will go, how much they will travel and the entire plan for the trip.
While is the presenting partner, the group is also open for individual advertisers for each of the passion trails. ToI refused to share any details of the partnership with Yatra but sources say that that it is a three-year deal for Rs 6 crore.

Speaking on the initiative, Rahul Kansal, executive president, BCCL, says, "Over time, Indian society has progressively moved from being a 'We' society to an 'I' society. People want to indulge in their own passions, and pursue it along with their careers. We are specifically looking to engage with the readers who are inclined towards a certain passion"

The creatives for the campaign have been designed by Taproot. Plans are in full swing to promote registrations for the initiative. It began with a print campaign in home publications across editions. ToI will be choosing niche magazines such as Lonely Planet. There will be outdoor activities along with heavy promotions on the social media front using Twitter and Facebook.

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