Marketing really works when it is heartfelt, and women, in general, are much more in tune with their emotionsMeetali Kutty
Meetali is Head of Marketing at Azure Hospitality. With the advent of the Novel Coronavirus, the hospitality industry has been one of the worst affected globally. For this segment of Women In Marketing, Meetali explains why digital has become increasingly important especially for marketers operating in the hospitality sector.
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in New Delhi but I grew up in Costa Rica. Growing up in a place like that was pure joy, and as idyllic a childhood as one could imagine- think weekend beach trips, scouting volcanos and just living, as the Costa Rican’s say’ La Pura Vida’ (The pure life!)
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I am the foremost expert in random trivia and obscure pop culture facts, and can probably outshazam Shazam when it comes to guessing song lyrics. I enjoy word origins and love understanding the Latin root to words. I am an avid reader and a learning junkie and in my free time I take up tons of courses. Oh, and I am also trained in ballet dancing.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I would probably buy myself a beach house somewhere and invest in a jet, and flying lessons so I could travel more around the world (once corona dies down of course!) I would also donate a chunk to pet shelters.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Has to be pork chops, mashed potatoes and asparagus. Oh and spare ribs!
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
Marketing sort of happened.
My career was more in the field of writing and editing as well as education but being someone who likes learning I started reading and doing more at my jobs until I was approached with a marketing job for a fashion brand. Marketing is all about thinking on your toes, lateral thinking, people skills, PR and negotiating while also budgeting- the perfect mix of left and right brain work so it was just something that fit me to a tee! Just being able to go to work and create new opportunities daily was what made me fall in love with it.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I’d love to be a great white shark because I’m fascinated by them and I am super curious to explore what is under the human visibility of the ocean- secret treasures, sunken cities, an alternate universe, perhaps?
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
The fact that I love pranking people and I always enjoy trying new things and making people laugh. I will go over and above in search of the perfect practical joke.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Definitely #TeamCoffee, I start my morning with at least 2-3 cups, and then feel ready for anything!
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I think a work-life balance was always a challenge to me, and now, with #WFH it often feels harder to do. However, I try to set boundaries of when I can be contacted for work, and I try to ensure my colleagues respect the same. I take time out to talk to friends, watch TV, read or just sleep, as it is extremely important to not make work your whole life because then no one benefits.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
I believe in today’s world that job-hopping is not chastised as much as before and people should take into account how a candidate comports themselves and can think on their feet rather than just judging them by their tenure. However, yes I do feel if someone is constantly flitting companies, it is a hindrance.
FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION?
In terms of my own experience, I think females tend to be better at multitasking, a requisite necessary in marketing as well as are more able to let their egos take a backseat when it comes to putting a brand first. Marketing really works when it is heartfelt, and women, in general, are much more in tune with their emotions.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
In India at least, work from home has often been minimal as organizations struggle to trust their employee’s use of time, and technology has not always been at its apex in many Indian companies. Now, due to the necessity, many companies are being forced to embrace it and are actually seeing that many fears they had before are unfounded, and work can occur fruitfully even when it’s done from home.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
When it comes to my team I tell them to stick to their hours unless it is an emergency situation and to set down their boundaries. Often we get disturbed post-work hours if we allow ourselves to be available, so I tell them to ensure they do not concede to work beyond their hours unless absolutely essential.
MARKETING OBJECTIVES WILL MOST LIKELY CHANGE DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW HAS YOUR ORGANISATION PIVOTED WHERE MARKETING IS CONCERNED, AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY AMID THE PANDEMIC?
Hospitality has been hard hit by the pandemic and since the announcement of the lockdown and the impact of our restaurants being shut, we have had to adapt at each and every point, often several times a day!
Delivery and digital have become a huge focus of our marketing strategy as well as embarking on a new brand and product launches such as a retail division or more QSR led brands to tap into the growing online ordering business. Digital, to me, is everything, especially during a pandemic. It’s often a quick, easy way to communicate with your audience and feel connected despite the distance.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT Azure Hospitality?
At Azure, innovation comes in the form of being proactive and taking ownership.
We are blessed that our company directors are open to discourse and allow us to approach new solutions and new fields which may not fall under our job definition in the hopes of creating exciting solutions and growing our own professional capacities. We have consistently been an innovative leader in the hospitality space, taking risks and launching new products, and will continue to do so.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
I do believe that influencer marketing will continue to thrive but my hope is that people have become more informed on what a good influencer is. Micro-influencers and influencers who have built their reputation on actual experience and knowledge will emerge more and more to the forefront as users have more time and spend more time dissecting their content and seeing whether there is any meat to it.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF Azure Hospitality BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
We have managed to maintain our brand equity through the corona pandemic and have been able to successfully drive our customers to contactless dining and more delivery-focused solutions, while also highlighting our hygiene and safety measures. We have been able to retain a large amount of our customer base while also creating new audiences with our new products like our retail and QSR lines. Above all, my personal success has been ensuring my team remains focused and motivated despite the consistent changes in the scenario and the ongoing anxiety of a pandemic being major disruptors.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
For me, dealing with multiple brands and tasks can often seem daunting so I spend a large number of my mornings segmenting my emails and tasks and approaching them with basic urgency. Whatever requires urgent attention is my red zone focus and I get to that first. I also pride myself in being able to delegate the appropriate tasks to my team and ensure consistent follow-ups via Google’s Assignment Tracker (it’s a lifesaver!)
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I am reading the Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Button. I always prefer physical books over digital, and don’t think I can ever change that preference!
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I am waiting for the new season of Criminal UK, as well as binging The Boys on Prime.
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
I have always been averse to physical contact with strangers, so as always I smile and greet them when meeting!
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I have not met my friend Chirag in quite some time as he stays in a different city but I hope to see him again soon!
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
It’s hard and often chaotic, but if you like to learn and you like making your own rules, you should definitely choose marketing.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Everything happens for a reason so don’t beat yourself up too much.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
I think professionally, having to often stay steadfast in a male-dominated environment can be draining but ultimately rewarding as well as having to prioritize when my to-do list is so full! Personally, trying to not let anxiety get the best of me, especially in the midst of a pandemic can be a challenge.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE?
Shambhavi Misra, my old marketing colleague in Impresario
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
To get a tattoo, to publish a book and to visit Costa Rica!
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
Scarlett O’Hara and honestly, myself because I have often been through the worst and even though I thought couldn’t handle it, I always have.
HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Check our website out: azurehospitality.com