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.