Laundry can be an engagement tool

Hotels, airlines and businesses in general try hard to promote engagement amongst their customers. For example, I’ve seen hotels provide gaming lounges, billiards tables, networking bars and so on. Offices and co-working places similarly try to create spaces with games and refreshments to get strangers to become friends. Usually I see some individuals enjoying this but still a small percentage of the overall base. Many of us are just not keen to mingle, perhaps.

But I recently spotted a scenario where with minimal effort strangers were mingling! And moreover the business was literally profiting from it! The secret was free laundry. So this hotel provides washing machines and dryers to use for free. They do however sell the soap at a premium. And while you wait for your washing to get done, there’s table tennis right inside the laundry room. Thirsty? There’s a vending machine right there too!  And further down the corridor there is a lounge area with free coffee and pricey snacks and a bar.

Sometimes you have to give something for free to get the party started. And if you want engagement it has to be something that takes a bit of time to consume. Coffee or laundry. Your pick.

Traditional Indian retailers have known this for centuries, of course. A cup of tea is usually on offer and while you sip your scalding beverage the shopkeeper knows he has you captive.

Zomato is trying the digital equivalent of this – streaming videos to keep you hanging about their app. Recreating the “TV Dinner” they say – talk about full service 🙂 Personally, I’m a little dubious about their diversification into food media, but hey, a start-up has to do whatever it takes to show value!

They do not appear to be constrained by falling budgets which seems to be the case for many others. Gartner’s recent study shows that spends have dropped to around 10.5% of revenue. The report is only for subscribers and I normally wouldn’t share a link to it, but so many people have asked me what should be the marketing budget that I thought I’d connect to the press release.

Oh, and just when you think you’ve got the hang of Instagram, you’ll have to figure out VSCO (pronounced ‘visco’) Already in on this? Good for you! Write a piece for me on the Indian version 🙂

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