Saumya Tewari

Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh

The online travel agent (OTA) launches high-decibel campaign #BefikarBookKar with two Bollywood stars to drive growth in hotel booking segment.

In the 11 years since its launch in 2005, MakeMyTrip (MMT) has finally roped in two of the hottest Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh, to drive the growth of its online hotel booking category.

The decision is backed by strong market research which highlights that while the online flight booking category is well penetrated, the online hotel booking segment is highly fragmented and under penetrated. Over the last year, the market has exploded as a result of increasing mobile penetration and adoption. Therefore, there is huge opportunity and headroom for unlocking growth opportunity for online hotels. Being a category leader, MakeMyTrip has taken the task of growing the category in itself.

As per a recent report by Millward Brown on the Indian hotels segment, online channels contributed to 25 per cent of the overall hotel bookings in India - split 18 per cent for OTAs, and 7 per cent for supplier direct websites. The report stated that MakeMyTrip emerged as the leader with 25 per cent online hotels market share among all OTAs. As the market leader, the company, therefore, is looking at category expansion by tapping audiences who are not in the online space as yet.

Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh
Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh
In a bid to achieve its objective, MakeMyTrip has launched a high-decibel campaign #BefikarBookKar featuring Singh and Bhatt. The two television campaigns created by Publicis Capital feature both actors in different characters highlighting the benefits of booking hotels online via MakeMyTrip as compared to offline booking. Both videos have crossed over seven lakh views on YouTube so far. As part of this campaign and in a move to further strengthen its brand imagery, the company has also refreshed its logo.
Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh
Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh
From March 20, the high decibel national multi-media 360-degree campaign will be heavily promoted on TV, radio, outdoor, social media and digital platforms. The TVCs will be on air for a period of eight weeks on GECs, news, and movie channels.

The TVCs have been directed by Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures.

Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh
Book hotels via MakeMyTrip, urge Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh
Talking about the creative concept, Bobby Pawar, managing director, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide, says, "We focussed on a singular fact that the brief pointed to - a large part of travellers prefer to walk into a hotel and book. They believe that they can get a better deal 'directly'. The idea was to create dissonance in these over confident travellers and dramatically highlight the inadequacy of this 'direct' approach while reinforcing the MMT advantage. The presence of (Ranveer) Singh and (Aliya) Bhatt allowed us to create the histrionics required for this dramatisation."

On being asked why the company chose to hire star faces now, Saujanya Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, MakeMyTrip, says that both brand actors truly represent the spirit of wanderlust.

"They represent the new age India which is confident, bold and not afraid to try new things -- all that we stand for. Hence, it was a great fit. As brand ambassadors, they would further the brand task of growing the online hotel booking category giving it a multiplier effect. With an aspirational persona, I believe they will inspire India to travel on our behalf," explains Shrivastava.

The key objective of the campaign is to catalyse the shift of offline to online hotel booking by providing tangible reasons to non-users and fence sitters to come to MakeMyTrip.

The company has undertaken in-depth consumer research behind the launch of this campaign studying the online vs offline category penetration, profiling of the category users, their preferences, key triggers, and the barriers.

Among many insights, Shrivastava informs that owing to increased smartphone and mobile internet penetration there is an increased number of young users entering the online travel landscape. Another key insight is around deals and discounts which largely influence consumer choice to book hotels online.

Hence, the #BefikarBookKaro campaign which primarily targets the 28-30 year-old males of SEC A and B, who live in the top towns of India, hits the nail hard on this very insight highlighting discounts, variety, and the ease of booking on Makemytrip. However, says Shrivastava, the company's trying to widen its target group and reach out to 20-40 year-olds from SEC A and B, living in urban centres.

On being asked if the current campaign is the answer to the prolific advertising undertaken by online budget hotel chains such as OYO Rooms, Shrivastava says that MMT's competitive set is a lot larger and comprises of offline players primarily.

"We are re-framing competition. It is not confined to players such as OYO or ZO. They are very small in terms of market share. The budget hotel category has opened up and we have our own offering called Value+. We are looking at mindsets and attitudinal barriers. The campaign will force consumers to take a re-look to find out if they are missing out on good deals online while booking hotels," he justifies.

For the record, MakeMyTrip has launched a budget hotel brand in November last year, after de-listing OYO and ZO Rooms from its platform. Unlike the latter, Value+ hotels receive certification of quality from MakeMyTrip without any change in its brand identity.

MakeMyTrip has been receiving encouraging numbers when it comes to the hotel booking segment. In the company's most recently-reported financial quarter (Q3), the domestic standalone online hotels transactions grew by 326.3 per cent, and the domestic standalone hotel transactions booked via mobile, the key growth driver, grew at 756 per cent annually. The company had a 61 per cent market share in standalone India hotel bookings made on mobile devices.

The company leverages performance marketing with an in-house search team whose lookout is to build and optimise campaigns on search. It works on intent, and tries to reach out to consumers looking for hotels or accommodation online. MakeMyTrip also participates on meta search engines, as well as display platforms. There is also a CRM (customer relationship management) team that leverages data to reach users. Another lever to drive growth is identifying certain destinations by mass media vehicles, along with tourism boards.

The company, which has a strong brand equity with its customers, aims to drive growth in the hotel booking segment.

In terms of the advertising mix, the company, informs Shrivastava, uses a judicious mix of traditional and digital marketing to positively influence consumers.

"For new user acquisition or brand repositioning (in case of last year's campaign Dil Toh Roaming Hai), we deploy television. But, digital is the core. We have never used traditional marketing as an alternative to digital marketing. Both work in tandem to positively influence the customer," he asserts.

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