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people 2013-10-17

Market research lacks in hospitality industry

An Interview with Vinay Gopinath, Vice President - Business Development, Mobikon Asia Pte. Ltd.

By Deputy Features Editor
Market research lacks in hospitality industry

In an interview with Franchise India, Vinay Gopinath talks about his company, the restaurant industry and the BTL activities restaurants make.

Tell us something about your company Mobikon?

We are one of the pioneers; in fact market leaders in the customer engagement solutions for hospitality sector primarily in India. During the last two years, we have endorsed market like Singapore. We have customers in England, Dubai, South Africa and at some other places. We work on a basic platform called Konekt, specifically made for the hospitality industry. We help restaurant owners connect with their customers, engage with their customers and deliver ROI in a very effective manner. The entire revenue model or business model works around a database program and we have currently around 417 outlets in about five countries.

How can restaurants perform BTL activities?

We have observed that most of the restaurants today are into BTL activities. Their BTL gets restricted to the leaflets or trend cards or some kind of food festival that happens around it and very few of them have been using these tools. So the way our products are helping these restaurants increase their BTL activity. It aggregates the customers on the number of visits that happen. Say this customer has not come to us for over 90 days when he ideally dines once in a month. Then we do a digital campaign called ‘we miss you’ where we request him to come and have wine with us. We have automatic birthday and anniversary messages in which the restaurant sends the customer a message eight days prior to remind him about his special day and request him to come and celebrate with us. This way we make an opportunity to reach out to the customer. On one’s special day, we wish him by sending a message and we don’t want to sell at that point of time because the customer may have already made his plans.

Tell us something about de-mystifying web applications and its user experience.

We have enabled the entire working of a restaurant on a mobile or tablet. We have developed mobile applications using which customers can identify locations of their restaurant, get alerts for their favourite dishes and also when they are at a restaurant they can pay using those web applications. As a start-up, we have developed things economically with a mobile interface so that one can get a local feel as per one’s phone model, unlike the ones that work on a laptop or tablet. This way the restaurants can engage with their customers in an effective manner and it is very easy for customers too.

How are you using mobile commerce in your business?

There are a new set of guidelines from the RBI saying that you have to swipe the credit card in front of the customer. So today we have in some cases integrated the feedback mechanism along with the payment gateway available. This is going to be the future and the payment and mobile commerce is going to be in the next level completely.

How difficult it is to create a brand within a brand when principal brand is hard to replicate?

If you are able to create a sub-brand under the principal brand with no consistency on the food and operations, the principal brand has a very good chance of getting damaged because of the low performance of the sub-brand. So what people invariably do is, they only do a sub-brand when they are in fine- dine format. The sub-brand has to be independent, has to stand for the one cuisine or the standard dish for which it is known for and thereby focus on a particular target audience. For example, brands like Copper Chimney have neither ventured into some other express models or have done other branding because of the fact that the iconic brand or the mother brand may take a hit.

Despite of the fact that Indian food market is growing, Indian chains are not a hit among public, why so?

I would say that the biggest drawback in the hospitality industry is the market research; the way we are marketing today is not up to the mark. It only focuses on food and the restaurateur thinks that food will do everything, but there is other piece of marketing too which needs to be done. The top brands never focus on that one thing – how would you focus on your end consumer, how will you market it as a product and how will you consistently draw those brand identities are the measures to be taken into account. We have very few examples of Indian brands that are doing consistently good and Speciality Group of Restaurant is one such example. 

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