Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Leela Hotels: A new "rain"?

Readers of this note would be advised to peruse the Engage, Educate, Entertain note presented elsewhere in this blog. (March, 2008 under the label 'Marketing')
Based on the feedback from some readers, in this note, I move beyond concept and attempt to “prescribe” a solution..

I scanned the above advertisement of the Leela Group of Hotels from A Kingfisher in-flight magazine. (please click to enlarge. The print is interesting)

Let me present what works, what does not work and how they could develop this idea.

Firstly a segmentation- targeting- positioning assessment.
The ad, since it is presented only in in-flight magazines, the broad “segment” is people who either on corporate or personal accounts, use air travel. The hypothesis is that this segment presents a sub group that aspires for the better experiences of life and hence a “Leela” experience.

Within this segment, the target, based on the ad seems further focused into, young- affluent couple with children.

The “position” that Leela seems to desire is: Leela, through this innovative advertisement, wants to represent a five star hotel chain that makes interesting holidays happen.

This broadly works for me, except the child in the photo:
1. Kids usually do not have monsoon breaks in India. Hence we are already implying a loss of school days.
2. In the monsoon, most parents dread their kids being caught in the rain and hence falling ill.

So why did Leela bring in the child? Why could the target not have been “young/ adventurous” couples? Frolicking in the rain could be perceived as a romantic (or re-igniting) idea, but definitely without the child.

I will not elaborate on the 4Ps…the product/ price/ place and promotion are indicated in the print.

But now let’s go back to “engage-educate-entertain”. Great brands, I believe must do this.

In this advertisement, Leela is attempting to educate the audience. Sure, we know that by the time the monsoons arrive, one holiday season in India is complete. All hotels see a drop in fill rates.

The Leela is attempting to associate “fun” with the rainy season and offering their attractive package as an option.
Question: What makes the Leela package more special than a Taj Hotels package? The fact that Leela has advertised a lower price?

I agree with this attempt to link rain and fun and getting wet. I enjoyed (much to the horror of my mother) getting wet. Often resulting in a cold/cough attack immediately after. However, I am appalled by the thought of getting my nephew wet in the rain.

So while I would explore the idea of frolicking in the rain with my wife, I would leave kids out of this. Sorry, I repeat, but its to make a point on a key visual element of the advertisement.

How about engage and entertain?

The price is supposed to be engaging. Here’s what I think. In this package, the focus need not have been price. Because you are saying “look, getting wet is such a great experience.”
If Leela is really convinced of this, they should not be discounting the price. You drop price when you think the product offer is not strong. Period.

The biggest worry for me on a rainy day, is wet clothes.

I would think, an alternative for the Leela group would be to work with a higher price, but offer “free laundry” during the stay. And one free massage for every two nights stay.

How about entertaining? I don’t see much entertainment in the ad. Entertainment is not necessarily laughter. It could be pity/ anger…. But an ad that leaves you indifferent, is not entertaining. This ad doesn’t speak to me. The imagery is for a family that will have difficulty accepting the product.

The concept needs to target the romantics. Example: DINKs.

I can imagine enjoying watching the rain fall while I am getting an exotic massage.
I can imagine, enjoying hearing the rain fall on my porch while I am cuddled with the Mrs. , book in hand, and a few "pakoras" next to us.
I can imagine walking into the garden to get drenched….only because it brings back memories.

The rain is not bad. And its not a bad time for a holiday.

I appreciate the Leela for awakening me to this. Really, I think it’s a good concept. Bravo.

But the concept simply does not get the required marketing treatment it deserves.

Comments welcome.

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