Aishwarya Ramesh

OYO's ad spot picks up on students' need for 'social distancing'...

The two new digital films in OYO's 'Raho Mast' campaign draw attention to how customers use their rooms, apart from official/work trips.

The company that told a nation to 'get a room' has released two new digital films as part of its 'Raho Mast' campaign. A note from the brand mentions that these digital films highlight how OYO can be used, irrespective of the purpose of travel. The films take place within OYO properties. The company says that the purpose was to cover different consumer groups and speak in languages the guests speak in. The manner in which an individual chooses to use an OYO room is the driving point for storytelling in these content pieces.

The company claims that these digital films are inspired by various use cases that highlight how OYO can be used no matter what the purpose of travel is under the theme #OYOForAll. The films are led by stories that take place within OYO properties that cover different consumer groups and speak in languages the guests speak in.

The digital films have been conceptualised and created in collaboration with The Script Room. "This one is huge for us. This campaign is a series of digital films with each one totally different from the other and yet all come together as one. It was a great joy working with OYO. They seemed to just get it, which is why the campaign seems so organic and unique" says Rajesh Ramaswamy, co-founder, The Script Room.

Rajesh Ramaswamy
Rajesh Ramaswamy

"It was fantastic working with Mayur and the team at OYO. This campaign is exactly the kind of work that we want to put out as The Script Room. We approached them as tiny insightful short films, so that you really don’t know whether it’s a digital film or some interesting content," says Ayyappan Raj co-founder, The Script Room.

Ayyappan Raj
Ayyappan Raj

The project was overseen by Mayur Hola, an adman with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Hola has worked with agencies such as McCann Erickson, Contract Advertising, TBWA\India, and Ogilvy and Mather. His last stint was at Havas Worldwide as national creative director. In 2019, he joined Oyo as the Head of Global Brand, OYO Hotels & Homes.

Over a telephonic conversation, Hola gives us insights on how the brand makes attempts to understand its user base. He says that the company has dedicated teams whose job is to do in-depth, consumer insight mining. "What we essentially do is that we identify different consumer groups and then we have conversations with them. These were a series of 200 or more conversations where we spoke to users to understand why they used OYO rooms. The films are a dramatised version of the things that came out in the conversation," he says.

Mayur Hola
Mayur Hola

One might argue that the South Indian representation in one of the videos is slightly over the top, but Hola says it was not the intention at all. They were not trying to show cliches, but rather find ways to represent reality. He says that the way most advertising is done these days – is that a broad message is created and then inserted into different languages.

Hola mentions that with all the digital films in the series, they made a conscious effort to steer clear of that. “To execute these commercials, we didn’t only write, we pushed ourselves to think in the native language, as opposed to just translating one video into another language. I understand the visuals can be seen as a little cliched, as he prays to his pencil box and switches off the TV quickly, which is another interesting aspect of the film. We’re trying to remind you that he’s just a boy who is prone to these distractions – that’s the relatable aspect,” says Hola.

The second digital film is for OYO Home, a new section that helps one make group bookings at particular stay locations. “We get a lot of requests for an entire floor/hotel property to be completely booked for a wedding party or a get together. One occasion where OYO is quite regularly used is in the context of weddings – when you want to congregate guests in a convenient location,” Hola explains.

An issue that OYO, as a company, is regularly plagued with is building brand trust. Its social channels contain quite a few comments from disgruntled members. Says Hola, "When you watch a game of cricket, the wicket-keeper has an important role to play. Most of the time, he’s doing his job really well, but the one time he drops a catch is unacceptable. That’s what you see on social media, too. We serve a large volume of customers on a daily basis in different parts of the country. There are bound to be slip-ups. They shouldn’t happen, but they do. That’s why we take our social listening tools very seriously."

He goes on to say that this is a common problem with companies that are trying to scale up. They inevitably end up facing logistical and infrastructural challenges. "We’re not your usual travel and hospitality brand. Tourism is just one part of what we do. Our speciality is offering non-home stays. There are many OYOs that you can see in different corners of different cities, but the truth is that these stay options may not be suitable for tourists. The large part of the reason we’re used is because people travel and work. Sometimes, you need (to take) time out, you need to crash somewhere for a night, you need to study… I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem, but the fact that it's not communicated clearly is a problem that we need to address. We have nearly 18,000 buildings spread across more than 400 cities and towns. It's unrealistic to expect all of these buildings to cater to the needs of the tourists who take to social media to complain," Hola says.

On the difference between Oyo's offerings and that of other online travel booking companies like MakeMyTrip and Goibibo, Hola says, “The main difference is that they are a directory of hotels, which may be owned by other firms. That’s why you’ll see three and five star hotels also listed on the platform. OYO is a chain of hotels and homes. We have self-operated properties as well as franchise hotels under the OYO name,” he concludes.