BTL Baatein: Manoj Nair, FCM Travel Solutions… Powered by VISCOMM

09 Jan,2017

With a management degree from Mumbai Unversity, an executive programme in leadership and management from IIM Kolkata and an International MBA from Marketing Week plus a career spanning over 16 years in the travel industry, Manoj Nair has worked in leadership positions in various travel companies. With prior work experience from Thomas Cook and Kuoni, Manoj Nair is currently Vice President and Head of Marketing at Flight Centre Travel Group’s India subsidiary. We present to you the ‘BTL Baatein’ of the week which is powered by VISCOMM with Santosh Jangid speaking to Manoj Nair about Below The Line (BTL) advertising for Travel sector, focus of the company and the balance between ATL (Above The Line) and BTL.


How important is BTL to your overall marketing plan?

BTL is very integral for Flight Centre Travel Group in India. We own various iconic brands such as FCM, the second largest corporate travel player in India. Flight Shop, one of the fastest growing travel retail brand with footprints all across India. Corporate Traveller, the only corporate travel brand in India catering specifically to SME segment. our foreign exchange brand which caters to wholesale as well as retail requirement through online and offline channels.

As you can see we cater to people across various categories and while we have a focused approach for all our b2b engagements (read BTL) in our retail promotion we lean heavily on BTL to engage with the right customers and more than 52% of our sales would be a manifestation of reaching out to a known audience and making them aware of the latest offering through various BTL activities

Can you also specify the range of activities that you undertake as part of the below-the-line advertising and promotion?

We focus a lot on customer and corporate roadshows, networking evenings, targeted mailers and SMS as well as topical events to engage, educate and influence the end customers. Ours is a very ROI driven marketing outfit and to ensure maximum bang for our buck we ensure we take part in events which are response driven and generates leads at an optimum cost. We are continuously benchmarking our activities, events, mailers and measure each promotion on its merits and metrics. The holy grail for us is the COA and while its not apparent in all activities, we definitely look at cost per query and qualify the event as worth the effort of participation or not.. Typical cost of generating a query through a print ad which is a response driven ad the cost would be Rs 900 to Rs.1500 depending on what product we advertise. The same product if we go into a BTL activation wherein if we do a neighbourhood activation, focused targeted emailers or a digital campaign where it is targeted at people who are looking out for a particular holiday the cost comes down drastically to Rs 250-300.

Can you give a broad idea of your spends pie of ATL v/s BTL?

The overall marketing budget across all brands is around INR 6 crore of which BTL will contribute to 25% of the spends.

Do you prefer to do this through BTL agencies directly or via your existing creative/media agency?

We normally do it on our own or through an agency which specializes in BTL activation. Our past experience makes us believe that that existing creative and media agency while they are very good at mass media communication when it comes to handling BTL, it’s a different animal and you need to be very nimble on ground and come up with activities which engage or intrigue and open channels to having a conversation.

In terms of generating results especially from consumers and in B2B, do you find BTL a more sureshot avenue than ATL?

Yes BTL is a great way of engaging with customers and also more focused and in that sense effective than ATL. For eg we know a large chunk of our customer base have club membership and lot of prestigious club members are our potential customers. So when we launched our Flight Shop Ahmedabad store, we did a purely BTL activation to announce our entry. It was Dassera time and it’s by far the biggest festival & navratri garbas are huge there. We partnered with one of the oldest and biggest club Karnavati and put out our signature big red cushions. We got Thai masseurs to give feet acupressure to people who came to our stall after a tiring evening of playing Dandiya.  While people were sitting there and relaxing in the chairs of the flight market area, we literally had them by their leg J our sales team would go and talk with them, talk about Flight Shop and find out their interest in travel. Needless to say we got lot of queries and sales too. With B2B BTL is our first port of call for customer connect and it always delivers if done through the right forum. When it comes to consumer activity, while we will use mass market to announce an offer or product we will still go the BTL way to generate and get the queries. BTL goes hand in hand with ATL for some of the products where we go out and do a mix of both to ensure we get desired result.

While sales and salience are good indicators of its success, what are the attributes you look at to measure the success of a BTL campaign?

The various metrics we consider to qualify a BTL campaign as successful are

1)   The quality of queries generated

2)   The total queries generated and percentage conversions

3)   The quality of engagement



There are many organisations that often do new launches almost entirely on BTL aided with an outdoor and/or digital blitz? Your views on this. Given rising media costs, do you see BTL managing on its own, without ATL?

There are products which warrant only BTL launch and if it’s done in a very interesting way, yes why not! We did it for our Ahmedabad store launch and its doing well for us, without much of ATL support.

Yes, I have no doubt in my mind the right way to go is the BTL route and while ATL is the preferred route for PAN India launch where you need to inform a large segment of TG, when it comes to specific/ niche products and areas you will have focused BTL activations.

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