By Mayur Hola
9th March, 2020. 13 Days to Janta Curfew.
We’re sitting in the office jamming on what the brand should do, given what’s coming. We have a headstart on being aware of the full impact of Covid-19 as our China operations are impacted significantly. We crack the Namaste film today. Go on to run it worldwide. Emojipedia analysis of 68 million tweets in 2020 tells us that the use of (namaste emoji)goes up by 25 per cent in April 2020. We also make this film available to the UN.
It’s my birthday. We step out for a drink. Didn’t know it’s the last time for a long time.
25th March, 2020. India goes into lockdown.
We’ve been home for a week already. SO MUCH has happened. We won’t push discounts and sales and what most brands normally do. All our global comms wear a new look. The OYO Corona Concierge is launched globally. Everything is geared to help people who might be stranded. And medical professionals plus frontliners. A call is taken really early alongside the leadership to not stay quiet. We have a responsibility to stay open and to help. And we will communicate that through the lockdown. We are doing exactly that.
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21st April, 2020. Happy. Birthday.
We’ve already released a whole bunch of work across geographies. Created a new property called Heroes of OYO, featuring asset owners, our partners who are helping people in need. That’s Live globally as well. Launched our first e-internship programme to honour our commitment to students. And partnered with governments wherever we could to offer quarantine facilities and free stays for medical professionals. Through March and April, positive sentiment for OYO in key markets has gone up 4X.
It’s the wife’s birthday. My daughter and I pick flowers in the morning.
10th May, 2020. I love Lucy.
Lucy and her dad Dr. Madhav are resting at an OYO Home. They got pushed out by the society they lived in. We step in and help. I insist on a better picture to post the story. Gotta get this right. You don’t get the honour to rescue a gorgeous lady every day.
Speaking of ladies. We’ve had enough of lewd comments directed towards them on our social posts. We launch a new policy and teach them a lesson. Super proud of doing this regularly now. Other brands need to follow. We’d be happy to train their teams. Reach out y’all.
19th May 2020. Scrub. Clean. Repeat.
The lockdown will begin to open up gradually and it’s super important we help our partners open up, clean up, sanitise and get ready to welcome back our loyal guests. This can’t last much longer. Livelihoods are at stake, relationships are at stake, life is at stake. Sanitised Stays is launched and we put processes in place to educate our asset owners and to monitor them.
June 4th 2020. Are we there yet!
It’s all happening, Unlock is coming up in India. A simple google search throws up the anticipation. The social team posts it. Super high engagement!
We reopen in India on the 8th of June. The first weekend or two in India are encouraging.
Meanwhile the vacation home business in Europe is rebounding nicely. Occupancy is high. We’ve put out films for that as well.
There are green shoots everywhere. There’s a rainbow at the end of this storm. We just know there is. There’s too much work gone into this, for there not to be.
July 1st, 2020. Fir Badhega India.
FBI is launched to further reinforce Sanitised Stays. It heralds the coming back to life of India’s economy. We wanted to keep this campaign deep, not laden with sentiment but bursting with optimism. Simple but with layers that peel off. Basically, we wanted to keep it OYO.
The SS tag is up on the app and every part of the consumer journey. It drives more occupancy, more revenue, more reassurance.
14th July, 2020. Day zero.
We enhance our ‘Sanitised Stays’ initiative by partnering with Unilever globally. We enable our partners to clean their properties even better to make our guests feel safer.
SS is Live in all geographies with the SEA & the US campaigns ongoing.
I look back and see all the work we’ve done all over the world. It’s been epic! And there’s so much more to come. We’re just getting started. Also! Should’ve had a few more drinks on the 9th of March, 2020.
The author is the head of global brand, OYO Hotels & Homes.