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Travel brands plan to resume advertising on digital media

OTA players encouraging people to step out of their homes without any fear through campaigns

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NEW DELHI- When the curve in many countries has started to flatten, India is still witnessing a spike in the number of novel coronavirus cases. But this hasn’t stopped people from deciding about their next holiday plans.

Leading online travel agencies are gearing up to resume spending on advertisements after a gap of a few months, and in all their campaigns, the players are mostly focusing on safety and precautionary measures.

Similarly, to regain the confidence of customers, OYO has launched a campaign 'Road Trippin' under theme #DekhoApnaDesh. As a part of this campaign, the brand has partnered with two influencers Rocky and Mayur, who inspire travelers to come out of their homes and head on exciting road trips across India, safely.

The latest ad from OYO highlights that there is no need to ponder after so many days of lockdown and hit the road while Oyo is waiting for you with all precautionary measures. The film this time has a quirky Haryanvi narration (with English subtitles). The digital film is conceptualised by OYO’s in-house team and produced by Flying Elephants.

The brand recently partnered with Unilever to enhance OYO’s ‘Sanitised Stays’. This global partnership has started from India and then went live across Indonesia, Vietnam, USA, LATAM, and Europe.

According to OYO Hotels & Homes head of global brand Mayur Hola, “Travel industry’s livelihood and survival depends on scrubbing every surface, sanitising every inch. Over and over again. That’s what we are doing. We’re equipping our asset owner partners with the knowledge they need to be able to qualify as ‘Sanitised Stays’ and we’re monitoring this constantly".

Hola opined that slowly but surely the loyal base is returning to the fold.

When quizzed about why the brand is not relying on TV medium and closely monitoring the digital space, Hola explains, “In such times, mass dissemination of any campaign would be wasteful and unfocussed with the uncertainty, restrictions, and lockdown variance across different States. We’ve focused our distribution amongst our frequent user base (referred to as power users) which by itself is a huge audience.”

Last month also, OYO released a campaign on the lines of Fir Badhega India, the campaign focused on adopting new standard operating procedures to welcome guests safely.

OYO rival, Airbnb has recently launched a campaign 'Go Near', an initiative to support local economies through local travel.

Makemytrip also joined the league by coming up with a digital campaign ‘AzaadiWaliFeeling’ asking travelers to plan those much-delayed trips.

The pandemic has created a very different scenario for consumers and the travel industry in general. OTA brands are smartly engaging in conversations around the need for a shorter trip in this stressful time. The question being asked is: What major role advertising will play as OTAs, while the industry is on the verge of recovery?

Dentsu Webchutney, AVP- account management Jaipal Singh explains advertising has its task cut out – to reassure consumers of hygiene and bring back their confidence towards travel. “It is important that advertising realigns itself in sync with the shift in the industry. The consumer attitudes towards travel have changed considerably - it’s time to work on new consumer insights and build further.”

While advertising campaigns are often built around pre-existing assumptions, habits, or seasons, the question arises is: What tools and strategies should OTAs be implementing while planning advertising, given the changing nature of consumer behavior?

Singh affirms, “While the playbook on new strategies is still being written, some early trends have started coming in. Given that people can work from anywhere now, longer stays would become relevant.”

“OTAs have traditionally been big on TV and digital mediums, which needs to be relooked. In the current times, TV might lead to high spillover as many cities still have restrictions in place. A digital led phased approach to advertising would be apt for the current times. An approach that helps target consumer cohorts with personalised messaging, he further adds.

In the past, we have seen that a lot of OTA marketing campaigns were designed to maximize ROI. But the pandemic has created an opportunity for brands to devise marketing strategies targeting a broader range of moments. Can brands do it successfully is what we have to see?

Mirum India regional director Arvind Nair believes that the need of the hour is to be more relative and original. "It can no longer be one size fits all. Getting back to normalcy is a distant dream as that can happen only next year. It’s a situation no one predicted before, so we all need to re-strategise the way we looked at campaigns, objectives, and measurements."

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