Is Yaatra.com failing Salman Khan or Vice Versa?

Most of us have seen the adverts of yaatra.com, the online travel portal on Television. The adverts feature the most bankable superstar of Bollywood, whose name is sufficient to take a movie go past the magical 100cr figure. He is the most handsome, eligible bachelor with a massive fan following, yes you guessed it right: it is none other than the hunk Salman Khan.

He features prominently in the adverts of Yaatra.com and seen mostly bargaining for cheap deals on behalf of consumers with the boss of the company in his inimitable style and yes he wins over every time thereby managing to fetch a cheap deal. And then he utters the iconic lines that ‘it is his commitment’ and we all know ‘once he commits to something, he will not even listen to himself’. So he urges customers that it is his commitment to provide them the cheapest travel deals online at Yaatra.com

Now all this looks and sounds great, Yaatra.com has come up with a bumper idea to woo customers to its side. And the star power of Salman Khan which is unbeatable is supporting its cause. However a close look at the adverts and the responses it generates seems a far cry from what it intends to achieve.

For anyone travelling especially by air convenience, service and time weighs over money. I would prefer an airline from a train journey because it is faster, cleaner, keeps me away from the crowded stations and is better suited to my life style. The price difference is hardly a factor I have ever taken into consideration in preferring an air journey over a train journey.

Now let’s look into the target market of Yaatra.com which mainly is of holiday goers. As we know we plan our holiday’s way in advance and very meticulously. And most people plan their holidays better than their lives. So when a person sets out on booking for holidays, money is not the determining factor. He is looking at convenience and service, after all he wants to enjoy on holiday without getting into any hassle what so ever.

So instead of talking about price if Yaatra.com would talk about service and convenience in their adverts, it will be more appealing. They are also failing to use the star power of Salman Khan to their advantage. Rather than showing him as the one who cuts deals for customers, they could portray him as a jet setting superstar who uses Yaatra.com’s services for him and for his troops. People can relate to this better and the story will have more takers than that the one which is being shown.

It is not just Yaatra, there are many other companies who are spending millions in adverts to generate favorable customer response. However they are failing to tell a story that is coherent and trusted by their target group. It’s time for them to wake up and spend more intelligence than money in creating a story that resonates with customers’. After all customers’ in today’s world are the all-knowing kings.

Do you plan?….. don’t before reading this

India is growing so as the demand for better infrastructure. In order to keep pace with the other developing nations and feed its own demand for infrastructure Government is spending huge in building roads, bridges, railway tracks etc. The scale of these things is huge and at times during planning not many contingencies show up or are taken into account.

Reema a bright, young lady recently moved to an upcoming city in India for some business reasons. Like everywhere else, here also due to heavy traffic Government is ever expanding the roads. This time around they have cut down many trees on the road side to feed to the hungry traffic. One day she rushed to her office a little early to check some important client mails. However to her utter disappointment she found that internet connection is disrupted because of nearby road work and in fact the telephone lines have stopped working. She rushed to a nearby internet café; the owner in a grim voice told her, “Madam! No internet and not even for the next 3 or 4 days”. She was shocked and speechless.  She used all her analytical skills to understand and justify the situation. Coming to no conclusion she asked the all important question to the café owner: ‘Why?’ in such a resounding voice as if the poor man is the culprit. He said madam, “This happens here quite often every time they build a road they cut cables”.

She started thinking about road works in London; where she spent the last 3 years completing her graduation. She has seen road works taking place near her university, house etc. However she has never faced any internet or telephone disruption. Are the cables that are laid under the surface to provide internet and telephone connectivity weaker in India so that even a dagger can cut it wide open?  So do we need to make stronger cables? asked this young, bright lady to herself.

No! This is surely not the answer. She remembered having a discussion with one her friend’s brother who works as a civil engineer for one of the largest construction companies in the UK. He told her how meticulously each thing is planned before it is executed; whether it is building roads, railway tracks or buildings. One of the most important things she remembers him saying is that the company involves all the stakeholders in the planning process.

She remembers the detailed explanation given by her friend’s brother, “anytime company receives an order to build a road; first it has to collaborate with the local council (ward in India) and ask the members of their suggestion; next it surveys all the public facilities that are around the road and might be affected during the construction; it then arranges a public forum to address how this construction is going to disrupt certain facilities and the steps they will take to minimise the disruption. And only when a conscientious on things is reached; then only they will start implementation. And mind you! The implementation will be carried out in the least possible time period.”  And true to his ward she has seen large buildings being built in a span of months, roads being constructed in a weeks etc; which would have normally taken nearly five times the time in India.

Now listening to this conversation in her mind and referring to the café owner’s answer; she reached her own conclusion. “In India contingencies are rarely taken into account while planning for things. There is a lack of coordination among different government departments.” Easily the MPC (Municipal Corporation) could have consulted the Telephone, Internet providers on how to avoid the chopping of cables every now & then. Now even if someone files a complaint; the providers respond, “Sir! How many times will we repair the cable; it’s better let them finish the work and then we will repair it once & for all”. I don’t know if this is a correct answer………………………

Planning is a daily process which every one of us carries out; from the top CEOs to the front sales people. Your planning affects the quality of our lives and the lives of others around you. It stresses both on the left logical brain & the right creative brain. Many people do not find a right balance between these two and end up creating ineffective or even at times disastrous plans. The skill here is to use your left logical brain to gather all data and derive relevant information and then use your creative right brain to reach at better plans.

Sticking to a set pattern of planning stifles your imagination and creativity. You must learn to challenge your own limitations and engage both the left & right brain faculties to plan better.

© P. Raj Das, MAMS (UK), MEM (UK), BE (E&TC); CEO & MD AWS Private Ltd.

‘New Year’ Resolutions

Since my childhood I have observed everyone around me celebrating the arrival of a year with tremedous zeal & enthusiasm. They buy greeting cards (paper ones which are eventually replaced with e-cards) and give it to their friends and relatives wishing them all the best for the coming year. Everybody wishes that the coming year brings them loads of good luck and makes their lives richer, healither and happier.

All most everyone now a days get so pumped up on 31st December that they come out of their shells to welcome the coming year with tremendous spirit. People who are generally reserved and shy & would not open up tend to burn their entire energy that night on the dance floor. I must admit they increase the TRPs of the dance floor.

Apart from celebration there is another thing that has caught onto people’s imagination ‘Resolutions’. And often people repeat the resolutions of the last year, as they had not been able to follow it up.

So 31st December has turned out to be a day of celebrations and resolutions of which none of them last. As we sleep walk into another year we forget all the promises we had made to ourselves and fall back onto our old habbits and patterns that serve us in the short run creating tremendous damage in the long run.

Is it possible that we live each day with the same enthusiasm as if it is the 1st day of each year and celebrate the night as if it is 31st december? Why not make ‘daily resolutions & promises and keep it through the entire day’ and celebrate at night ‘to know that we have succeed in keeping our promises and to welcome the next day with renewed energy and enthusiasm’. 

“Nothing great is ever achieved without working hard to lay a solid foundation”

 

 

 

The Daring Shanghai Waiter

I have been to Sanghai many times before, however this time it is much different. I am probably more excited as this is my first business trip, all expenses paid by the university. I am here to represent my university in one of the Education fairs. We are expecting a good turnout of students. Chinese are giving a tough competition to Indians for the numero uno spot of largest number of international students in the UK.

Upon arriving at the airport I rushed through immigration to collect my baggage. And to my worst surprise I found one of my bags missing and this is the bag which had all the broachers, leaflets, information concerning the university and the courses it offers. I went ballistic and argued a lot with the Airline’s ground staff. However only thing they could do is apologise and pay me compensation. But I knew there is no compensation for this loss. My mind was going berserk trying to identify how to face the students and how to generate business for my university. I could download forms and some information from the web but not all and it will take a minimum of 48 hrs for any courier to reach Sanghai from London. And the show is tomorrow.

On my way to hotel I got more frustrated running these negative thoughts in my head. I checked in the hotel, took a shower and went to bed to relive my jet lag. I woke up it was around 10PM at night & decided to go out for my dinner.

I love the local Chinese restaurants. After having walked for nearly 20 minutes I came across a Cantonese restaurant by the name of ‘Red Dragon’. I walked in and pulled over a chair next to the window. The waiter a young, 20 something guy came rushing in to serve me. I decided to order a Carrot & Bamboo root soup and ‘Fried fish with peas’. The former was in the menu however I could not find the later and this guy hardly speaks or understands English. He called another elderly person to mediate between us. This person is probably in his early 60’s with a pale face walked rather slowly towards the table. With a bright smile in his face and with a Chinese accent queried and I placed the order with him.

He later served the order to me with an equally bright smile. In spite of his frail frame, pale face and limping legs I found him quite fascinating. Knowing that I might need his help, he hovered around my table, occasionally passing orders to others to clean or serve. After my dinner I asked for a glass of Chinese bear and he obliged.

There is something uncanny about him, he appeared so focussed and determined to give everyone the best possible service. I could not resist myself from having a chat with this enthusiastic old man.

I asked: ‘Would you mind if I ask you a personal question’ Please go ahead came the reply I: ‘Is there something wrong with your leg?’ He: ‘Yes! I lost my left leg in a brutal accident’ I: ‘Oh I am so sorry for that, but how did this happen?’ He: ‘It’s a long story, do you have time?’ Ideally I wanted to go to hotel early and start preparing for tomorrow; however something inside me kept my legs unmoved and I nodded in agreement.

He started “My name is Lie Chun and I lived in a town on the China, Tibet border. I had a glass moulding plant and was one of the famous, respected people in that town. I had about 170 employees and we were doing great business. I also had a lovely family: my wife, two daughters and a son. My eldest daughter was married and the other two were helping me in business. We were a happy bunch.”

He suddenly paused for a while and his radiant smile vanished as he continued with a grave tone “During 2007 there was a huge protest by the Tibetians world over against the Chinese in the wake up Olympic games. The Chinese army decided to take on them & destroy their movement. They came all loaded with weapons to our town which borders Tibet.

Most of our town suffered due to this clash between Chinese soldiers and Tibetian protestors. My factory was bombed and destroyed; even my home was not spared. During one such clash my home was put on fire and apart from me my whole family perished. And I landed myself in hospital with a burnt face and leg. Doctors said they have to amputee the leg to keep me alive. We had no option but to go by their decision.

I regained my consciousness after a week of operation. Every one of my relatives including my eldest daughter and son-in-law thought I would perish. I would not be able to tolerate the shock.” As he was describing these things his tone has receded and tears filled his eyes. And I could not resist a few drops coming out my eyes listening to the life history of this stranger.

After a pause for a brief period he continued, “It took me 3 month to get out hospital bed and walk with this prosthetic leg”. I then moved with my eldest daughter & son-in-law to Sanghai and opened this restaurant. I do not like sitting idle so I decided to join him. I started coming regularly to restaurant and started to take active interest in this.

Now my son-in-law and daughter are focusing on expanding this business. And this year we have been awarded the best small restaurant in Sanghai by the association. My daughter & son-in-law asked me to collect the prize and there were 400 people in attendance who clapped while I was receiving the award. That is probably the proudest moment of my life.

As he was describing this, his mood has elevated to the next level and I saw that habitual bright smile on his face. Towards the end of our conversation he philosophically said a line and that etched a deeper line in my heart & soul. He said, “when the snow storm hits a mountain, the climber has two choices: climb hard towards the summit or give up and wait for the ultimatum. I chose to climb hard & fast”.

I walked out of the restaurant giving a profound thanks to this old man for teaching such a valuable lesson. I would always remember this. I got myself ready for the next morning, prepared a PPT to show to prospective students, downloaded materials from the net and walked with a lot of confidence into the Education show. I gave my best and managed to create a fantastic reputation for my university.

Upon reaching university in London after a gap of 4 days I came to know that around 37 students have applied to the university after visiting the show. This in itself is a record and I was being congratulated from all corners; where as the bottom of my heart I was passing all those to the old man who taught me an unforgettable lesson. “Every one of us goes through challenging times and your decision at those times will shape the quality of your life”.

The PingPong Ball

It has been a while since I had been to a village fair however I get instantly turned on with the thought of it. Last week I accidently came accross a fair during my trip. And I must tell you I had a wonderful time out there seeing, witnessing and experiencing the colourful extravagenza.

I ate to my heart’s content without giving a second thought to food hygiene. I tried shooting at the ballons and throwing the dice at the dolls and I must tell you I won big time and collected goodies. However within me I was searching for a special thing and almost like a child I jumped in excitement upon seeing that thing.  Its a PingPong ball.

I went straight to the seller and bought a dozen of them and gave it as a gift to the children playing around. My companion to the fair was taken back by my behaviour and wanted to know ‘What is so unique about this ball?”

I without pausing told her this ball teaches us two valuable lessons:

A) The ball goes down hits the floor and bounces back higher; it reminds me of human beings. Most of us go through ups and downs in our lives. However the ones who achieve lasting success are the ones who learn to bounce back everytime they are down.

B) It also reminds me of society or people around us that are mostly myopic and become critical of people going down. As they only see the ball (person) going down and fail to see that soon it is going to bounce back stronger & higher. Therefore never underestimate or criticize someone who is going through a tough time. As well never fall prey to others negative tweets while you are going down.

 

 

The S Word

On a recent trip to a northen hill station, I met one of my college friend. He looked cheerful and years younger than me. He welcomed me with a bright smile and a warm hug. Although I had booked a hotel, he insisted that I spend that night with his entire family.

I remember this friend of mine used to be one of the most brilliant students of our class. He was the go to person for any study related queries. And I must confess I was jealous of his popularity. Everyone of us were certain that he will grow up to a high paying job. After completing graduation all of us moved in different direction and had hardly any time to keep in touch with eachother.

Now almost after a decade I am meeting him and I came to know that he works for the state government’s Public Relation Department. This is a decent paying job and he lives in his ancestral house which of course needs a lot of renovation. As well he drives the old Hero Honda Splendor. This left me with a lot of unaswered question and most of important of them how come he is so happy inspite of not achieving the materialistic targets?

After a lovely dinner at night, we went to his terrace. It was cold and we were having a hot coffee together. And I could not refrain myself from asking the obivous. He remained silent for a while and then answered it so beautifully that changed my prespective on life.

Here it goes, “after completing graduation I went to work for one of the well known media companies in Mumbai. However soon I became fade up with it. I saw humans without any human characteristics and values; they were more like machines working on commands. I fled that place and came back to my home town and applied for this government job. I soon got selected because of my academics and experience. I enjoy this job very much although it does not pay me to take overseas vacations twice a year or to buy a car. I enjoy helping common man get access to varius government schemes, I see the gratitude and pleasure in their eyes. And this makes me go to bed at night without any guilt or fear. And I must tell you since last nine and half years I have never experienced a sleepless night. I am blessed to be staying with my family and not with facebook. I am blessed to enjoy the beauty of nature and breath fresh air and eat fresh vegetables. ”

He paused for a moment and the silence was awakard for me as I was so drawn into the conversation. He then dropped a bomb, “ Success to me is to be in peace with myself & enjoy every moment of my life. Whereas most people  tend to put off their enjoyment till their vacations or their retiremnet and I wonder do they really enjoy then?”

I said ‘no wonder you look years younger …..’

So what is your definition of Success? Plz Leave your comment….

The Risk of not taking any risk

I met an old friend of mine yesterday evening, being a Saturday everybody was in a relaxing mood. There were four of us and we had a good old chat for about an hour or so. Time flew and none of us realized it. Did you ever have this experience of time flying? I bet you had …

During the course of our discussion, this old friend of mine told me to suggest him some good place to work or refer him for a suitable (well paying) position. He is in his early 30s and so far have not been successful in his professional life. He is now desperate to get a high paying, secure job that does not demand much from him.

He was a very good student back in our college days and I asked him how come he landed in this position? He said after graduation he wanted to go to a bigger city for work, however his parents restrained him from doing so as they had no known ones or relatives in that place. He spent time preparing for other exams and government services. However to his luck, he could not crack any of them as he was not fully into it. Later he tried some small jobs out of which selling life insurance was one and when opportunity came to take more responsibility and get promoted as a manger of the company; he rejected that offer saying that he could not take the pressure of achieving stiff targets. After which he decided to go for higher studies, cracked the entrance exam however he could not afford the course fees. There were options for him to avail study loan and repay it after completing the course. Again his cynicism got the better of him and he decided that it will be too risky to mortgage his home and take the loan.

And now he repents for his not taking those actions, not risking out, not allowing him to explore the possibilities of life. He said I always avoided taking risks but now my entire future is at risk. I could not help but agree with the wise words of him.

There are many a things in life which all of us want to do however our inner cynicism never lets us tap into our deepest potential and live our deepest desires. We fall into the trap of procrastinating which slowly consumes the quality of our life. So it is for us to break free and really trust our human potential to achieve that we most desire. As the saying goes “it is better to be loved and lost rather to be not loved at all“. So my encouragement to both you and me: let’s take risk, let’s do those things that gives us the most joy, that exercises our brain and muscles the most. Let us make the best use of this human experience.

Winter Winds

I remember as a kid I was taught the value of discipline by my grandparents. I remember when I was five years old, my grandfather would wake me up by 5 in the morning and would ask me to go for a walk or jog in the nearest wood.

I would always hate him for this act. I would always complain that I don’t get proper sleep or I get too tired but he would pay no heed. In course I got used to the practice of waking up early and going for morning jogs.

I remember it was during one such winter morning, the wind was blowing strong and it was nothing short of chilling. I pleaded with him not to go for jogging as I will fall ill. However he said you have never tried jogging in a chilly winter morning and it would be fun. After much pleading I gave up and went for my sneakers, I remember the awful feeling I had. It appeared I had no control over my life and will not have any comfort until this man lets me.

As we were slowly jogging through the woods and the winter wind brushing through my ears and nose, drops of tear would fall from my eyes. My ears and nose both had gone red. Seeing this he came near to me put his warm hands around me and said one day when I am not there you are going to remember this. After a pause he continued, ‘every boat sails easily when the wind is favoring them however only those who can sail when the wind changes direction are the ones that make it to their destination’.

It did not make any sense to a five year old. However I realized that people who are tough will go through tough situations. And this philosophy of mine developed at an early age by my grandfather (who is no longer here) have shaped my life. Any time a challenge or problem comes in, I stay strong and tough.

“No matter where you are in your life and no matter how big the challenges you are dealing with, Toady make it a habit to stay strong and tough in the face of challenges”

Walking Taller

Have you ever asked the question why I always get a harsh bargain? Why problems do not seem to die? and why there is never a day without a challenge?
I asked the same question years back, completing my Engineering after spending all the hard earned savings of my parents, there seemed no job for me. I would run from pillar to post in search of a Job. Every morning and evening I would scan the newspapers in search of a suitable vacancy, make a list and follow up. Slowly I started to exhaust all that I had brought from home to this new city.

However luck smiled on me at last and I got a job. Now I was elated to know that my problems are over. However the first day of Job I was introduced to my team leader, I knew I would never get along. There came another problem. I wish the team leader get transferred, leave the job or don’t come to office. However none of these things would happen and every day I would face his wrath.
Again something magical took place and he got promoted, the person who replaced him was very likable. Life is back to normal minus the problems.
Little did I know another one is harping at the corner, my girlfriend of five years dumped me and I am single. Before I could complain ‘why this problem’? Not Again!

I met a old man who worked as a janitor of my building. He had one of the most caring and soothing voices, I shared everything with him expecting some sympathy. However instead he beat me to ground saying, ‘the reason we have problems is because we grow taller and stronger by them’. I could not reason with him as my emotions overshadowed his wise words.

However later I reflected on what he said and realized the truth behind it. There will be never be a time when problems will die or cease, however if they were not there we would have never developed a superior courage or belief in ourselves.

To walk taller and stronger stare at the problems and overcome them. “Your measure of greatness is in direction proportion to your ability to handle problems”. Make it a habit, you will create a wonderful leaving