[Interview] We have a guest pacification of over 93% with over 85% re-booking an OYO: Gaurav Ajmera, OYO

Gaurav Ajmera OYO FI

Gaurav Ajmera, OYO shares various factors of marketing a digital-first Travel brand.

With almost a decade of experience, Gaurav Ajmera, COO – India & South Asia at OYO, shares how marketing played an essential role in the creation of the brand, OYO.


Since its inception to now, what kind of role has marketing played in creating awareness around the brand services, especially in the initial years when online hotel booking was still restricted to certain TG? 

Marketing has played a crucial role in creating OYO as a brand since its inception. However, since 2013 when OYO launched in India, most of our marketing initiatives were directed towards branding our properties or as we like to call it, putting up the big red logo (OYO sign) on OYO buildings and painting the town red.

Ever since, digital platforms like YouTube, Facebook generated organic conversations driving our KPIs. Fast forward to today, since we have scaled up to 500 cities and reached a wider customer base, TV is our best bet, we realized that television is one of the best mediums to reach out to a wide consumer base.

We’re therefore exploring a holistic approach, including television, digital, social media and influencer marketing; all platforms that help us reach our core target audience, the millennials. 

In order to build recall and dig deeper into these markets, we resorted to new-age platforms like TikTok and ShareChat  (social media startup in Indian languages) since communications in English portrayed as an issue.

Even our TVCs are being propagated in six languages and over 33 percent of the spots are in regional languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, and Bengali.

Given the sector that the brand belongs to, CRM is a very important aspect, especially on social media where a single complaint has the potential of going viral. What kind of CRM mechanism do you have in place for the same? 

Having a robust CRM mechanism is mandatory for new-age businesses. With evolving, tech-savvy consumers and rising use of social media to reach out to brands, experiences have become bigger than the product or service itself.

At OYO, we have a presence across all key social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Playstore, IOS, etc where we have a dedicated team that handles CRM for all social media queries and concerns.

OYO team has a first response time of 3 minutes on average, which is better than the industry standard, and Facebook has also recognized us with a ‘very responsive’ badge. Also, our social media team maintains a guest pacification of over 93% with over 85% guests re-booking an OYO in the next 6 months of their last stay.

Apart from this, we have incorporated different tools to identify, expedite and provide faster resolution to any issue raised by an influencer or a high follower account.

We also monitor, on a real-time basis, all the cases which have the potential to be viral. With all the key stakeholders PR, Brand, Legal, Business, and CRM working as a close-knit, we have a clear communication flow between all the teams, which is the most essential part of maintaining the reputation of any brand.

What was the idea behind the recent video by Knox Artiste? Please share the insight that led to the conceptualization of this campaign

The objective was that we wanted to work around a fresh concept and adopt a non-traditional approach to create buzz around our brand on the sidelines of our Year-End-Sale that went ‘live’ this month. Working around this thought, we were looking for some peppy, upbeat content revolving around our brand, something that would work with our core target audience – millennials aged between 20-34 years. 

Once we zeroed in on the campaign, we wanted to ensure that apart from the catchy tune, the communication should include OYO’s value propositions like affordability and convenience, etc. To do so, our team spent time with the artist and highlighted the promises of the brand. We came down to a list of 10 to 12 things that needed to be mentioned and decided to go ahead with the OYO Townhouse property as the venue since it is targeted at millennials.

How was the final product created?

Knox’s genre and fun take on content fit the bill perfectly well for this particular campaign. Moving quickly, we organized a few brainstorming sessions with Knox and took him to OYO properties to interact with customers so he could come up with ideas that would resonate with our audience. Knox Artiste scripted the entire rap and produced it as well with support from our in-house influencer marketing team.

An interesting fact to note is that the hook of the song, ‘O Yo Yo’ was inspired by our latest TVC ‘OYO – Raho Mast’ and was quickly turned into a rap song. 

Through this music-video campaign, we leveraged the organic reach of influencers such as Knox Artiste as well as other noted influencers; rather than relying heavily on paid promotions.

With Gully Boy releasing earlier this year, rap songs as a campaign was a huge trend. Do you think you might have missed the rap campaigns bus in terms of timing?

Rap and Hip-Hop is India’s fastest growing genre. Gully Boy was inspired by real-life independent rap music artists, therefore, it’s the rise of the genre that inspired the movie and the movie further amplified the rap song trend in the country. 

The very fact that we have reached over 5.5 million views in such a short time frame shows that it is still trending and is one of the most relatable music genres to millennials in India. 

Also read: Road to 2020: Industry experts share Marketing & Advertising trends

App Installs is a major objective for app-based businesses. How effective has digital marketing been in this sense? 

We are a digital-first company, with a strong focus on driving growth and engagement through digital marketing across multiple channels with unified personalized customer experience. 

With tech at the heart of everything we do, our first-of-its-kind digital marketing strategy has helped us strengthen direct communication with consumers as well as increase brand awareness and customer satisfaction.

In fact, the use of Triggers & recommendations has helped us send contextual information to our customers, thereby increasing the stickiness to our platform. As a result of such initiatives, we have seen 70% of our bookings come from repeat users.

A lot has been said about the importance of tech innovations in marketing. What kind of innovations have you seen performing well in the service sector? 

Backed by innovative technology, we plan to upgrade all forms of real estate and thereby provide quality living spaces to travelers around the world. Keeping up with our effort to ensure happy customers, we invest heavily to create an experience for the customer in the real world.

Today, we see AI and machine learning powering all forms of marketing trends for new-age startups. Data is the key and it is important to understand your consumers and reach out to them with relevant content,

We at OYO always keep innovating and engage with our target customers across platforms like Sharechat, TikTok to acquire a new customer base. This has helped us with robust marketing intelligence to drive business growth as well as support us in building efficient delivery systems. We use such technological innovations to predict demand, increase NPS, improve customer experience, reduce customer churn, optimize message targeting, among many others. 

What are the 3 marketing trends you foresee for 2020?

At OYO, the core ethos has always been putting the customer before any other metric or choice and it will continue to be in 2020.

In terms of three trends that are set to take over marketing minds around the world are AI, big data, insight-driven marketing and much more creative influencer marketing initiatives as social media strengthens its hold over new-age customers. 

Artificial Intelligence has proved to be one of the most transformative tech evolutions of our times. It has emerged as an effective marketing tool for companies worldwide.

I see it getting bigger, better and smarter in 2020. Innovations circling AI will further disrupt the industry to provide the best customer experience. Having said that, I also believe that while technologies such as AI and data-driven marketing will certainly be big trends for 2020, the broad-gauge focus will be on people, not technology.