New Sterling Holidays proposition is led by discovery: Peshwa Acharya

Acharya, the Chief Marketing Officer of Sterling Holiday Resorts, talks about the company’s first-ever TVC and how it will build the reach with Television

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: Feb 8, 2019 8:12 AM

Sterling Holiday Resorts Limited has unveiled a TV and digital campaign to reflect the brand philosophy of ‘Holiday Differently’ by showcasing various curated holiday experiences and discoveries that the brand offers to its guests. 

Peshwa Acharya, Chief Marketing Officer, Sterling Holiday Resorts, tells us how the brand has transformed into an experiential holiday brand, its first-ever TV campaign and why the company will be airing 60-second ads on Television.

Edited excerpts:

What is the positioning of Sterling Holidays in the overall travel and tourism space?
There are three different clusters operating in the holiday landscape: Hotels, Tourism boards — Domestic and International — and timeshare companies. Our intent is to occupy the in-between space and our strategic intent is to become the No. 1 holiday company in India; a holiday company with a difference based on experiences. Also, what most people don’t know is that we are a mixed-value business, i.e. 50 per cent of our rooms are for our timeshare members and the other 50 per cent are for the Free Independent Traveller (FIT) audience.  

Can you take us through all that has been happening at Sterling Holidays?
Since 2011, there has been a transformation in the company.  We have invested around Rs 300-400 crore in infrastructure and have revamped our resorts. In 2016, we focused on getting the right people, building people infrastructure and also building the service orientation. We introduced a new service culture based on the slogan PEP – People, Experience, Places, which will spark joy among consumers.  In 2017, we re-launched our brand and visual identity. The insight behind this was that there were a lot of changes happening within the company and we wanted these changes to be communicated to our consumers.  The change in visual identity and a re-launch helped establish the new Sterling Holidays. This was followed by a completely new website in December 2018. We are the only company to introduce a comprehensive holiday insurance for all its holidayers, starting from the time you leave home till you are back at home.

What is the proposition that Sterling Holiday offers and how do you differentiate yourself from the competition? 
The new Sterling Holidays proposition is led by discovery and focuses on experiences. We want to redefine the holiday landscape. This is the biggest differentiation - the experience and discoveries within and outside the resort. We are marketing and portraying the destinations in a different manner. Many consumers are not aware of the different experiences that is available at a destination and we want to make this into a product and tell our customers to try our curated experiences. For instance, in Ooty we are recreating the tribal Toda lifestyle for the consumers. Similarly, in Darjeeling we are curating a tea tasting experience.

Coming to your new campaign, this is the first time Sterling Holidays is releasing a TVC. What is the strategy?  How does it capture your brand philosophy of ‘Holiday Differently’?
Yes, Sterling Holidays has launched a TVC for the first time. If you want to build reach, Television is the best way. We will build the reach with Television and will go in for both high frequency and high reach channels. Our communication is very inspirational and the communication will include the destination and the experiences which we offer.  We have created digital videos, present across our social and digital media platforms, to reflect this. The TV film is supposed to be the inflection point to showcase that this is the new Sterling Holidays.

We will back it up with Digital to reach the millennials. We will also use some contextual press and magazine as required because it builds a little bit of credibility and image. 

Also, your TVC is 60-seconds long…..
60 seconds creates an impact. We only take quantitative decision but there is proof that a creative makes an impact and we have taken this decision because our category is image-driven. So, we will be using the 60 seconds for Television and will follow up with interesting edits in different sizes. I want to run this throughout the year. But right now our campaign extends from February to April, the pre-holiday season. 

So, by how much will your marketing spends go up as compared to last year?
It’s a substantial amount, a triple-digit jump. 

What was the brief given to your creative agency?
The brief I gave was that I didn’t want something that looked like a television advertisement. I wanted something that was cinematic.

Define your TG.
We have a very clear TG. We want to reach out to the 30-45 age group living in the top 20 to 30 cities; who own a Sedan and a smartphone and at least take one holiday in a year. However, being on Television I reach a wider audience and this according to me straggles whatever business we have. 

What are your plans for the year ahead and for expansion?
We will have a multimedia communication across social, digital, OTT, magazine, cinema and PR throughout the year. Our intent is that in the next two to five years we have to double the number of rooms. Currently, we are present in 35 locations (including four resorts under Nature Trails) and we aim to be in 50 destinations by 2022-23.

Our four-pronged expansion strategy takes care of all kinds of customers. First, we will be present in the usual holiday destinations such as Goa, Darjeeling, Kodaikanal, Ooty or Shimla. The second area will include heritage destinations like Agra, Jaipur and Mysore. Next are the pilgrimage destinations, and finally the fourth strategy will be to focus on weekend getaways, destinations which are 100-200km away from the consumption centres. We will also go to destinations which are unique like our property at Anaikatti which is situated on the banks of River Siruvani, which has the second sweetest river water in the world or our property in Dindi, on the banks of Godavari.  

As per reports, the travel and tourism industry has grown by 15 per cent YoY. What’s been the growth at Sterling Holidays?
We have seen a healthy growth.



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