The line between marketing & communications don’t exist anymore: Prasidha Menon, OYO Hotel
Prasidha Menon, Global Head of Communications, OYO Hotels & Homes shares about her journey, how OYO caused a disruption in the hospitality industry and barriers to women leadership
With 35,000 hotels around 80 countries, OYO is ruling the hospitality business in the country. In the age of brand reputation and brand image, the role of corporate communication experts becomes even more important. In the quest to unlock the excellent branding strategies of OYO, exchange4media had an interaction with Prasidha Menon, Global Head of Communications, OYO Hotels & Homes.
Prasidha is a seasoned communication professional with 15+ years of experience working with some of the most exciting and challenging brands in the country. Currently, she is leading global communications for OYO Hotels & Homes. She is leading both internal and external communications for the brand, globally. Responsible for driving OYO's reputation forward and delivering against the company's mission of upgrading all forms of real estate and thereby over 3.2 billion middle-income travelers and city dwellers experience #LivingTheGoodLife, through sustained corporate reputation management programs and targeted brand-building campaigns.
One of the youngest communications leads in the country, Prasidha Menon has mastered the art of delivering results for brands operating in some of the most challenging environments, around the world. Prior to OYO, Prasidha was heading communications for Uber in India and South Asia. Prasidha specialises in integrated communications campaigns, with a strong focus on content and creative visualization, amplified through earned, owned and paid media outlets.
In the interaction, Prasidha shares her views on her journey in the corporate communications industry, and how OYO caused a disruption in the hospitality market and barriers to women's leadership.
How has been your journey in the corporate communications?
I would say fulfilling and extremely enriching. If I look back, I feel that I was blessed to have the kind of opportunities that I did and I am glad that I could make the best out of it. One of my mentors had once said to me, if you want to be successful, you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I think that has stayed with me. I have enjoyed the highs of this profession - learnings, exposure, growth, and more, and equally enjoyed the pressures that come with this job - deadlines, time zones, issues and crisis, and much more. I am truly blessed and feel I have a long way to go. Lots to learn, lots to achieve.
What are the key drivers of the corp comm industry in today's scenario?
In my opinion, this is a great time to be in this profession. The line between marketing and communications don’t exist anymore. Today, the reputation of the company has a huge impact on business continuity, and therefore as a corporate communications professional, one has a stronger voice in the boardroom, seat on the leadership bench, and sometimes the ability to veto a decision. We have now thought partners focused on delivering business outcomes, aligned with reputational goals, and not execution partners focused on next-day coverage.
How do you see the changing landscape of the communications agency with integrated industries blooming up?
Communications agencies that invest in specialized resources understand core business problems and therefore have the ability to address the larger reputation goals, through a multi-stakeholder focus, multi-pronged approach and leveraging multiple mediums across owned, earned and paid, will thrive. These are exciting times, and I think the best idea and best minds will rule the roost.
How has OYO been able to disrupt the hospitality industry in the country?
OYO was launched in May 2013 (known as OYO Hotels & Homes now). OYO today is the world’s leading chain of hotels, homes, and spaces, and has made it possible for over 3.2 billion middle-income people to find a good quality hotel, at an affordable price and in the best locations around the world.
For small and independent hotel owners, on the other hand, this was the first time a company was working towards democratizing the budget hospitality space. OYO is today empowering thousands of asset owners around the world with the operational expertise, technology know-how and the CaPex required for them to compete with the big chains, and deliver market-leading customer experience, yield and make a positive impact on communities. As our Founder always says, it is still day zero for us and we have a long way to go.
What has been the growth spectrum of OYO over the years?
Well, we started with one 15 rooms asset in Gurgaon back in 2013, and today we have over 35,000 hotels and we offer access to over 125,000 vacation homes in over 80 countries around the world. Having said that, we as a company are focused on sustainable growth, with financial prudence and value creation for all stakeholders as a key measure of the impact we are creating. It is still early days for us.
How instrumental are women in this industry and what are the major barriers to women leadership in this country?
I think women have the ability and innate power to do well in not just this industry but any industry or space, it is all about taking ownership of your own life and the choices you want to make and believing in yourself unabashedly. I think we, as women often undermine our own abilities and potential, and as a woman, I will always remind all my female colleagues and friends to take charge of their life, and question the societal norms, if and when needed and to follow their heart.
Women have the ability to multitask, make decisions with clarity of thought, we are able to empathise but what we often lack is the confidence to do things the way we want, and stand up for our rights - whether it is a raise, a promotion or sometimes just having the confidence to present a counter opinion. We focus on our weaknesses and completely miss celebrating our strengths. I don’t mean to generalise this, but in my experience, women can be great leaders. More power to all the women who are turning the tide.
What are your 5-year growth plans?
I am a planner when it comes to everything in life, whether it is my “to-do” list for the day, or my grocery shopping list or vacations. But when it comes to my career, I have always gone with the tide. For me, growth is about learning and how I evolve as a professional, each day, everyday. It is about bringing a better version of yourself to work everyday. In the years to come, I want to continue to earmark some time to learn things that I have had limited exposure to, till some time back. Simple things like managing P&L for a brand, revenue management for a product category, pricing strategies, etc. All of this, I feel will help me grow as a professional, where my contribution to the business as the communications leader, will help meet not just reputational goals but also drive business outcomes.
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