Sunday, August 02, 2015

An Unforgettable FAM Tour to Fairmont Jaipur

Ever since I relocated to India in 2012, I have been meaning to get on to a FAM tour. Having been on several FAM tours in South Korea from 2005 to 2012, it was baffling not to be even on one in my own country. 

But all that was going to change.


Earlier this month, me along with four other Delhi based bloggers received an invite from Mr. Rizwan Shaikh, General Manager, Fairmont Jaipur to review the hotel, including their new Indo-Persian fine dining restaurant called Zarin.

Fairmont Jaipur

Here's a summary of my FAM tour experience of the Fairmont hotel.

The tour was planned to perfection by the PR. That said, no matter how perfect the planning is there is always some room for improvement.

Monday, July 20, 2015


3 am to 6 am

My train from New Delhi Railway Station to Jaipur Junction was slated to arrive at 6 am, which meant I had to wake up at the crack of dawn and leave the house by 4.30. I don't remember waking up so early in my life before. But wait, that wasn't the only glitch.

The cabbie who came to pick me was a complete douche bag. First, he forgot to carry his wallet. Second, his cab broke down just few seconds after arriving at my door. I had to request random people to push the car. And finally, he made me pay for the fuel (remember, it was a prepaid taxi booked by the PR).

The only silver lining was meeting Vickrham (a. k. a. Vicky) at the station. Vicky is part of The Writers Collective of India (TWCI) and writes here.

6 am to 12 pm

The train arrived at Platform 2 on time but there wasn't any sign of other bloggers. As soon as we boarded the train, we met Sudipto De, who writes on a food blog called Salts and Sandals.

Vicky, Sudipto, and Moi

The train took a halt at the Delhi Cantonment railway station, and it was here that we met the remaining bunch - Reena Batra from Travreviews, Saumya Chandel from See I told you, and Vidisha Puri from Quotient Consultancy Services.

The Fantastic Four Bloggers

Even though I was cool and distant with everyone throughout the FAM tour, I bonded extremely well with Vicky and Reena due to similarities in the way we think and approach life.

Reena & I

12 pm to 1 pm

On reaching the Fairmont hotel, we received a royal welcome with Nagada (a huge drum), flower shower (using Rose petals), and Ravanahatha escort (Ravanahatha is an ancient bowed violin).

Royal Welcome at Fairmont - With Nagada & Flower Shower

The Fairmont hotel resembles a living fortress that gleefully combines the glories of the past with modern-day comforts. Every aspect of the hotel - be it the architecture, layout, decor, or hospitality - is inspired by the legends of two of India's most celebrated rulers – the Mughals and the Rajputs.

Royal Welcome at Fairmont - Ravanahatha Escort

The customary traditional welcome didn't end with the tika and showering of rose petals. We were escorted through the Char Baagh (four gardens) courtyard to the lobby area where we revered in the mellifluous melody of the Santoor. The arrival experience, which also resonates with history, gives you a sense of the privileged world.

Santoor Player at Fairmont

It wasn't long before we were joined by Jorley and Deepak, who work as the HR Director and F&B Director, respectively, at the Fairmont Jaipur. To mark the start of a wonderful association, we assembled at Anjum (the tea lounge and day bar) and raised a toast with champagne.

1 pm to 2 pm

As I made my way towards the signature room, I couldn't help but notice the intricate frescos in hues of blue, gold, and red adorning the walls of the hotel. It reminded me of the local artisans and craftsmen from Rajasthan, who continue to carry forward the legacy of the Mughal aesthetic with ease, elan, and perfection.

Beautiful work of art at Fairmont

For some quaint reason, the warm low lighting throughout the hotel gave an intimate feel. The vintage Shekhawati furniture, carved silver antiques, large velvet 'pankha', and rich upholstery make you part of a beautiful love story from a bygone era.

To say the room was majestic would be such an understatement. 

Fairmont Signature Room

Signature rooms at Fairmont are bespoke residences that exude classic heritage influences - with poster beds, camel bone inlaid furniture, walk-in bathrooms with the distinct pink city stone bath tubs, Mughal styled low seating day bed and discreet arched windows overlooking the Aravalli hills.

Bathroom

Understated yet opulent, the level of detailing in a Fairmont room will leave you asking for more. For instance, to add a touch of playful romance and provide a royal chamber ambiance, the staff has perched a parrot - the lucky mascot of Fairmont Jaipur - right next to the bed in every room. The parrot is still considered a traditional companion and confidante of royalty in Rajasthan.

2 pm to 5 pm

After a quick shower, I headed straight to the adjacent room, where we were supposed to meet for lunch.

Huge Bath Tub at Fairmont

The first lunch was an ensemble of special crafted Indian/Continental food like - 
  • Som Tom Salad
  • Fish in Lemon Coriander sauce
  • Ayam Curry
  • Stir fried Asian vegetables in Black Bean Sauce accompanied with Jasmine Rice
  • Pula Mai with Sticky Rice
  • Lemongrass and mint mojito
  • Selection of tea and coffee

First Lunch at Fairmont Jaipur

Post lunch, I stepped out for a walk-through of the hotel while others chose to take rest. Minutes later, it dawned on me that Fairmont Jaipur is not just a luxury hotel but an experience in privileged elegant living.  

Rooftop

It is a grand contemporary escapade to celebrate the finer things in life. The hotel truly captures the essence of Jaipur's rich history and culture through its design and architecture.

Fairmont Swimming Pool

5 pm to 6 pm

At 5 pm, we gathered at Anjum for the Fairmont High Tea experience. It was a chance to know each other well over an unrivalled selection of authentic, high quality teas.

Anjum - The Tea Lounge

Sitting in the lobby area and enjoying my hot beverage, I couldn't help but notice the ornate murals and comfortable lounge style sofas all around. The view of the majestic willow Stream Spa from Anjum gleaming against the azure pool is a sight to behold.

Stream Spa

I was told that Anjum is a popular haunt for holding tea tasting sessions. Also, the Fort Lighting Ceremony takes place just outside Anjum each evening.

Fairmont High Tea Experience at Anjum

Slowly yet steadily, as the conversation grew deeper, Anjum transformed into a romantic evening lounge with stars on the ceiling twinkling away. 

6 pm to 7 pm

This was the hour we had all been waiting for. A tour of the property by the Front Office Manager, Naveen Dogra.

Fairmont Jaipur

Fairmont is the brainchild of Ratankant Shiv Sharma, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of Triton Hotels and Resorts. The property was inaugurated on August 9, 2012, and the hotel is now gearing up for its third anniversary celebration.

Fairmont Jaipur

The inventory boasts of 199 rooms and 3 suites. If you're planning to visit the property anytime soon, you must know that the Fairmont rooms are further classified into four different categories:
  • Fairmont rooms (leading) - Starting range INR 9k plus taxes
  • Deluxe rooms - Starting range INR 11k plus taxes
  • Signature rooms - Starting range INR 13k plus taxes
  • Fairmont gold rooms - Starting range INR 15k plus taxes

Fairmont Gold Room

Most rooms measure the same in size (450 square feet); however, the pricing differs due to amenities and views.

The starting range of three suites is a whopping INR 35k plus taxes.

To render the feel of a fortress, a hydrophobic lime plaster called "tadelakt" is used on both the interiors and exteriors of the hotel. Fairmont adorns 3600 pillars and 95 chandeliers, and just like any other royal palace in Jaipur, this one too has a Char Baagh (four gardens) courtyard. Each part of the Char Baagh has 14 trees, making it 56 trees in all.

7 pm to 8 pm

We hit the pool for some time before heading to the elegant Aza, Fairmont's library bar, for a quiet evening of aperitifs and signature cocktails with Deepak, the F&B director.

Aza - The Library Bar

As the jaali doors of Aza opened to welcome the bloggers, I couldn't help but draw a parallel between the regal bar and a royal emperor's hunting lodge. The beautiful decor of Aza is further complimented with deep leather wing chairs, vintage cognacs, rare single malts, a wine cellar, and smell of leather bound books. Also on display is a varied collection of 'liquid history'.

We stopped by at the exclusive whisky appreciation station that features an exotic collection of aged and rare malt whiskies. It was here that we got a bird's eye view of the 'Private whisky collection of the Maharaja', from an era of quiet elegance.

Aza exudes an old-world charm replete with an experience in laid-back classic luxuries. With its warm interiors and silent black and white movies, you're sure to enjoy every moment of your time here.

9 pm to 10 pm

It was time to draw the curtains but not before a royal dinner at Zoya, the all-day dining restaurant. Zoya delights you with an array of eclectic dining options. What better way than to end the day with an authentic Rajasthani cuisine!

Zoya - All-Day Dining Restaurant

All in all, I was ecstatic to stay at the Fairmont. 

Fairmont Experience - A Must-Have

If you're looking for an oasis of luxury, head to the outskirts of the Pink City, where in the quiet recess of the Kukas lies a testament to the marvelous history and culture of Rajasthan. Thank you Fairmont for the lovely memories!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What I Learned at the E-Tailing and Travel Commerce Conference 2015

eCommerce in India is considered as one of the fastest growing B2C sectors, mainly due to the massive advancements in the following segments - Travel, eTail, Hospitality, and Classifieds. The growth is further accentuated by funding from venture capitalists who see a huge opportunity with the increasing number of mobile and web users in the country.

As a travel consultant, I am eager to be part of this phenomenal growth and unparalleled engagement. And it is with this objective that I enrolled myself for the E-Tailing and Travel Commerce Conference 2015.

The two-day summit touched upon the most common issues faced by the eCommerce industry in India. Industry veterans spoke about unique concepts, ideas, and practices that changed the game for their businesses.




Here is how the event unfolded on Day 1.

Moi with Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India

Blogger's Booth (Courtesy: Blogmint)

Inaugural and Welcome Address by Kumar Karpe, Chief Executive Officer, TechProcess


Kumar Karpe

Key Learning:
  • Consumer confidence has increased in eCommerce sector.
  • The shift from eCommerce to mCommerce is taking place right now but the rate at which it is happening has surprised many. Mobile holds the key to the future.
  • Mobile based strategies are getting discussed.
  • Some of the challenges of eCommerce are connectivity issues in Tier 2 and Tier 3 Indian cities, Cash on Delivery, Refund, etc.
  • Challenges of eCommerce cannot be solved without close collaboration of the enterprise customers. 
  • Growth in eCommerce has led to innovation as well as disruption.
  • Consumers are transacting online. Their trust is increasing. However, consumer expectations are hard to contain. They are demanding more.
  • Consumers want to control the following:
    • Time of payments - They want to pay at their own convenience and time.
    • Flexibility of place - They want to be served at doorstep.
    • Payment mode - They want the comfort of deciding whether they want to pay by cash, card, etc.
    • Digital Interoperability or Digital Device Flexibility - Consumers use multiple devices these days and expect consistent user experience on all the devices. Any compromise in that experience may result in friction.
  • Together we need to grow this ecosystem. The biggest challenge for eCommerce players will be to capture consumers for life.


Address by Guest of Honor, Dr. Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India


Suman Billa

Key Learning:
  • Technology is dramatically changing the marketplace.
  • Huge amount of info is getting delivered to consumers to help them transact online.
  • Trust and predictability in what you sell online is important. Deliver the promise you've made during the point of sale.
  • Tremendous opportunity for aggregation across platforms, which is happening at a wide scale.
  • Virtual real estate is replacing physical real estate. For instance, in leisure tourism, people want to see the view of the hotel first before confirming the actual booking.
  • Advertising happens through word of mouth; bloggers are the new harbingers of change.
  • People create their own customized experiences and personal itineraries now. 'Alert independent' travelers are the new game changers.
  • This is the age of reviews but we don't have enough credibility yet. Companies like TripAdvisor are doing their bit but we need to build an independent reviews ecosystem.
  • Main challenge is to empower citizens: From Job 'Seekers' to 'Creators'.
  • Evolution of travel in the world is exacerbated due to the developments in technology.
  • Putting products online for sale is just the beginning; what makes or breaks an eTailing venture is the trust it generates in its customers.
  • Implementation of Good and Services Tax will help everyone. Tax needs to be paid at the point of consumption.


Special Address: Customer Experience through Design by G. Shankaran Nair, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Servion Global Solutions

 

G. Shankaran Nair

Key Learning:
  • We are all humans. We are all consumers.
  • In the eCommerce industry, put 'consumers' not 'technology' at the heart of the conversation. Ask "where is the consumer in all of this?"
  • Technology disrupts and distances the bond between the consumers and brands. It is also disrupting the consumer journey (awareness, purchase, usage, and after-sales experience).
  • Interaction with the brand is no longer personal. (Quote: "Don't remember when I last visited my bank. Don't need to!")
  • Brands keep selling somewhat same products. Has an effect on the consumer behavior. 
  • Something new comes along catches the consumer's fancy. Fizzles out eventually.
  • Acquiring the consumer and creating a unique identity to influence their buying behavior is the key.
  • Loyalty is the prime mover in the online B2C space. Use technology in a way to give the consumers a rich experience and generate a lifelong loyalty.
  • How to create emotional connect on the Internet? Consumers are promiscuous as they never stay loyal to a particular brand, move from one to another.
  • Capitalism propels easy availability of capital for new ventures, thus helping the upcoming eCommerce ventures today in India.
  • The design of interaction with consumers has to be unique for the brand.


Case Study Presentation by Anuj Kumar, Co-founder and Managing Director, Affle

Attribution analytics led Mobile advertising - Measuring and maximizing the quality of your mobile app users


Anuj Kumar

Key Learning:
  • The nature of Economics is changing even for the small players. If you are not coming from a digital advertising background, the terminology used can baffle you.
  • Audience acquisition is an important point of discussion for entrepreneurs who have mobile app as significant part of their growth strategy.
  • To increase the numbers and maximize the RoI, ensure that your services reach the right users, not just any random person.
  • Learn from the first hundred you spend, so that the next hundred is spent in a better, more optimal manner.
  • Measuring and maximizing returns involves four steps:
    • Build a mobile app.
    • Promote it through advertising and PR.
    • Spend the money raised on acquiring users.
    • Understand user behavior and aim for building loyalty (Make monetization as your key KPI).
  • What can you do differently?
    • Audience acquisition - Getting people to download your mobile app.
    • For advertising to be successful, reach out to the 'relevant' audience through data analytics.
  • 40% of digital advertising is consolidated with two big players - Google and Facebook.
  • Evaluating partners is a thing of the past since most advertising or trading is done programmatically.
  • Most big companies can reach out to the same audience now.
  • Build a unification strategy - spend your dollars on one single platform. Choose a partner who can help you with the audience acquisition.
  • Data comes from behavior (of the app user).
  • Attribution - reuse intelligence to enhance RoI.
  • Need a better mobile app experience? Optimize your RoI by building a Single Audience Intelligence Cloud. A single dashboard can make a huge difference.
  • App First and App Only are the new trends. Re-engagement is the motive.
    • Re-engagement can be achieved by advertising and push notifications.
    • Re-engaging on your own media gives you an advantage.
  • Once you build loyalty, users are more likely to contribute back to your app.
  • Key message summary
    • Unification of platform.
    • Mobile app driven strategy.
    • Transparency of placements and optimization capability is very important.
    • Attribution of events as source.
    • Reusing data.
    • Reusable analytics and audience intelligence.


Plenary Session 1: Impact of Travel Market Places for The Online Travel Market


 Impact of Travel Market Places for The Online Travel Market

Moderator:
  • Karthik Sathuragiri, Director - Field Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan, Akamai Technologies 

Panelists:
  • Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-founder, ixigo
  • Yogendra Vasupal, Founder & CEO, Stayzilla
  • Simran Sial, Founder, FindMyStay
  • Deepak Wadhwa, Co-founder, WeAreHolidays
  • Sidharth Gupta, Co-founder, Treebo
  • Sankalp Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Travel Triangle 

Key Learning:
  • Travel is becoming an expression now. Companies like Uber are bridging the gap between demand and supply pretty well.
  • Travellers won't tell you everything but may have higher expectations.
  • People are looking for experiences; what experiences can be curated is the big question for businesses.
  • Managing 'transactions' is not a problem anymore. But managing 'quality expectations' from travelers is.


Plenary Session 2: Social travel - how new age start-ups are redefining the travel industry?


Social travel - how new age start-ups are redefining the travel industry?

Moderator:
  • Anshul Srivastava, Head Sales & Marketing, Arzoo.com 

Panelists:
  • Ish Jindal, Co-founder, Padhaaro
  • Gautam Shewakramani, Founder & CEO, AudioCompass
  • Akhil Malik, Co-founder, Zostel
  • Chitra Gurnani, Co-Founder, Thrillophilia Adventure Tours
  • Piya Bose, Founder, Girls on the Go Club

Key Learning:
  • Solo travelers in India are probably the largest in the world right now. Technology, especially social media, has amplified this trend.
  • Capture the 'intent' to travel; once a traveler has booked, focus on how you can engage.
  • Setting the right expectations upfront and understanding all that the consumer expects is half the job done.
  • In 2014, 3% of bookings were made through cell phones. Today, that percentage has increased to 40%.
  • Information asymmetry can be reduced through technology.


Plenary Session 3: Global expansion in travel industry - An appetite for growth


Global expansion in travel industry - An appetite for growth

Moderator:
  • Himanshu Singh, Managing Director, Hotel Commerce (Him and Kays Group) 

Panelists:
  • MadhurArora, Head of e-Commerce Business, India and Thailand, Expedia
  • Ganesh Iyer, VP - Distribution and Air Business, Goibibo
  • Anshuman Bapna, Chief Product Officer, MakeMyTrip
  • Siddharth Dabhade, Head of Industry, Google

Key Learning:
  • Holiday is the single most complex, proprietary product that is difficult to replicate.
  • Google is not your foe. If used effectively, Google can be the best friend for the entire travel industry.
  • Seamless integration between products and technology is supremely important.
  • A travel agent isn't a middleman, but an ally.
  • The thrill of exotic, custom-made adventures is unmatched.
  • Technology is the biggest strength for OTAs but also a sour area when it comes to their service offerings.
  • Is global expansion viable for OTAs or hotel aggregators? Going global is just the means to an end. Go where Indian travelers go.
  • Let software do the heavy lifting, but ideas and creativity are the sole domain of people. They cannot be replaced.


Plenary Session 4: New realities in the payments landscape


New realities in the payments landscape

Moderator:
  • Rajeev Narayanan, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, TechProcess 

Panelists:
  • Saurabh Srivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Mobikwik
  • Nitin Gupta, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, PayU
  • Deepak Chandnani, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia and Middle East, Worldline
  • Mohit Kabra, Chief Financial Officer, Make My Trip
  • Bhavin Mody, Director, E-Billing Solutions (EBS)

Key Learning:
  • The price of opening a business is getting smaller because of the online platform.
  • Payment has its own set of challenges, even though a lot of innovation in form factor is happening in India.
  • With new payment/wallet companies setting up business in India, these companies must continue to focus on providing a seamless user experience via issuance of credit instruments, acquiring payments, and easy transactions.
  • Compromise with user experience can enhance the rate of transaction failure.
  • Amazon's Aur Dikhao campaign highlights the power of choice and focuses on the array of choices available, analyzing consumer behavior.
  • PayU focuses on the view of the customer. Capturing the value propositions from customers is important.
  • Wallet companies aggregate all sources of fund. The biggest challenge for these companies is how to get customers to use the platform.
  • Transparency, convenience, and seamless transactions on payment gateways are the way to go.
  • A lot of eTailing companies are focusing on usability. Experience on mobile should be seamless. Security should not be compromised.
  • Wallet must be seen as a means to aggregate funds and convenience is a 'subjective' parameter.
  • A time will come when all online stores will have a common Checkout option.
  • Ability to pay and mobile as a channel will play important roles in every business.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Word Up 2015 - A Day Dedicated To Blogging

An IndiBlogger meet in the city is always an excuse to catch up with old and new blogger friends. No matter how many meets you end up attending, there is never a dull moment at an IndiBlogger meet. So how could the Word Up 2015 be possibly any different!


Guess who was the first blogger to reach the venue? Well, no prizes for guessing. Yours truly.

Big Rock Sponsored the Word Up 2015

Coming early to an event isn't necessarily a bad thing. In my case, I got to network and even click the "Selfie of the Day" that won me a cool Sennheiser headphone from Big Rock, the main sponsors of Word Up 2015.

Selfie of the Day

Here a BIG shout-out to my new blogger friends from Word Up 2015:

How The Day Unfolded


The host of the day, Vivek Rawat, welcomed and thanked the .Me domain folks who flew all the way from Montenegro for this event. 

Vivek Rawat - Emcee

For the uninitiated, Montenegro is a small Balkan country bordering the Adriatic Sea. 
  • Montenegro got its independence on June 3, 2006; .Me domain came into inception in 2008.
  • Having a .Me domain can boost your online identity or presence, as it is considered to be the most personal domain available on the Internet.

The Guy from .Me Domain

Keynote Address by Pops


The keynote address was delivered by KV Sridhar (a. k. a. Pops). You can read about him here.

KV Sridhar (a. k. a. Pops)


What Pops Said

  • Has advertising experience but is not a blogger or an analyst.
  • Loves telling stories; pays to produce stories (Example: INR 30 crores for a mere 30 sec commercial).
  • Writes regular columns in newspapers.
  • Knows how brands work.
  • Client's perspective: "How do you connect brands to people?"
  • Internet has changed the world, brought people closer, and empowered people. Anyone can publish now.
  • User-generated content is bigger than what the entertainment industry created in the last 50 years.
  • Marketers were born at the same time when typewriters were born.
  • Companies like Unilever and P&G rely on paid advertising. Companies like Google and Apple don't believe in advertising. In fact, people don't believe in advertising anymore.
  • Companies cannot afford to live in this world by hiding something/anything.
  • Relationships work on two things:
    • Trust
    • Mutual values and interests
  • You cannot put anything inside a full cup.
  • Marketers are hanging on to an old system when the world around them is changing.
  • Television is powerful in our country and will never die.
  • Buying a car used to take 3 to 4 weeks earlier. 20 years ago, it used to take 3 years. Now you can buy a brand new BMW on an 8 year EMI in less than 24 hours. Create a desire for the brand that you're associated with.
  • On "Understanding people":
    • Start and end with people.
    • Compartmentalizing people is downright silly.
    • People and their feelings are two things to learn.
    • No difference between brands and people.
  • On "Brand's purpose and values":
    • We are shifting from 'valuing' brands to 'developing' brands that are valued.
    • It doesn't matter who you are; it's what you can do for me.
    • There is no difference between how people behave in normal life versus how brands should behave.
    • The more brands give, the more they get.

Example: Volvo Life Paint

  • Volvo is one of the safest cars in the world. The brand values safety and life - both inside and outside of the car.
  • Volvo's purpose remains higher in life; it is also concerned about safety of human beings on the street.
  • The best way to survive a crash is not to crash.
  • Life Paint is a unique reflective safety spray. Invisible by daylight, it shines brightly in the glare of car headlights.
  • Making the invisible, visible.
  • The higher the purpose, the more you connect.

Example 2: Intel and Toshiba's "The Beauty Inside"

  • The Beauty Inside is a story about a man called Alex who wakes up every day with a new face in a completely different body, meeting the love of his life. He is the same person on the inside, but always someone new on the outside.
  • The highly acclaimed social film was developed by Intel and Toshiba on the premise that "Will he be able to tell her the truth? Will she be able to handle it?"
  • Communication shifted from my story to your story when Facebook users were asked to add to the narrative.
  • Directed by Drake Doremus, the film is broken up into six filmed episodes with interactive storytelling. All events take place on the main character's Facebook timeline.
  • It's Hollywood's first social film that gave the audience a chance to play the lead role throughout the story.
  • The higher purpose that Intel and Toshiba wanted to convey through this film: it is the beauty inside that count.

Example 3: Coca-Cola Small World Machines - Bringing India & Pakistan Together

  • March 2013. Coca-Cola sets out to remove political barriers by creating a simple moment of connection between two rival nations - India and Pakistan (higher purpose of the brand).
  • The initiative "Small World Machines" was a live communications portal between people in India and Pakistan.
  • Central idea: What unites us is stronger than what sets us apart.
  • People in India and Pakistan were asked to complete tasks like touching hands, drawing peace, love, and happiness symbols -- together.
  • 99.9% people in the world are good and optimistic. The question is whether you want to talk to these 99.9% or remaining 0.1%?
  • Values must be shared at both ends. 

Example 4: P&G: Do Things "Like A Girl"

  • Higher the purpose is, the more people will find you. 

Example 5: Lucky Iron Fish: A Simple Solution for a Global Problem

  • Why we need inspiration? To live.
  • The Lucky Iron Fish is a social enterprise that works toward reducing iron deficiency rates globally.
  • Cooking with this specially formulated iron ingot releases up to 75% of a person's daily required iron intake.

Example 6: Gisele Bündchen - I WILL WHAT I WANT

  • Taking a stand sparks off conversations.
  • Being a supermodel, Gisele knows what it means to live under the lens. Amongst the noise of contradicting opinions, Gisele proved that will beats noise.
  • Under Armour created this campaign to beat stereotypes and introduce the concept of uber masculine women, who are both strong and athletic.
  • By amplifying the message through Twitter, Under Armour allowed many people to talk to many people.
  • Have a belief and say the truth. 

First Session by Lakshmipathy Bhatt - Ethics and the business of blogging


Post the keynote address by Pops came another invigorating session by Lakshmipathy Bhatt. You can read about him here.

What Lakshmipathy Said 

  • Blogging is not unfrittered or on a whim anymore.
  • Random is the most common word used in a blog title.
  • As a blogger, you owe responsibility to yourself and the brands you write for.
  • Blogger
    • Yay! Money! But I have to write.
  • Reader and followers
    • Can sense your brand relationship; might feel that you're sold out to the brand but if the brand is good, they will check out nonetheless.
  • Agencies
    • Blogger outreach is the new mantra these days.
  • Brand Owner
    • I pay so I want the blogger to write my content.
  • Sources of exasperation
    • Blogger
      • Not stating the terms and conditions upfront.
    • Readers and followers
      • Questions the credentials of the blogger.
    • Agencies
      • Not doing their basic homework.
      • Using one size fits all approach.
    • Brand Owner
      • Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
  • Brands should have an idea that fits the larger frame.
  • 10 blogger tips to live by
    1. I will be transparent in my dealings and disclosures via Privacy Policy and Disclaimer.
    2. I will credit my sources.
    3. If I choose to endorse a brand, I will do a lot of homework about it.
    4. How I get compensated for it (or not) is my choice.
    5. I will be prepared for backlash or judgmental jibes when I openly endorse a brand.
    6. Being professional is not limited to demanding on-time payment alone.
    7. Writing for a brand for free - It is not an obligation from my end.
    8. I shall steer clear of any conflict of interest.
    9. I shall not steal images from Google Search.
    10. If I have to use free images, I will go to sites like photopin.com, unsplash.com, pixabay.com, and Flickr.com (Creative Commons).
  • Brand owners should create content that
    • Is interesting.
    • Is relevant to the targeted audience.
    • Is held together with a brand.
    • Uses strength and weaknesses of idea bloggers.


Second Session by Nandita Iyer


The next speaker, Nandita Iyer, writes a blog called Saffron Trail.

Nandita Iyer


What Nandita Said 

  • Most bloggers start a blog as a hobby to pursue their passion.
  • Required in blogging: sustained interest, growth, and monetizing potential.
  • What is the difference between a hobby and a professional blogger?
    • Be consistent
    • Educate yourself
    • Focus on the following:
      • Quality
      • Passion
      • Consistency
      • Originality
      • What's trending
    • Don't draw a blank.
    • Don't take yourself lightly.
    • Keep bettering your game.
    • First be creative, then monetize.
  • Smarter Blogging
    • Use Google Trends (this week, year)
  • Stay topical.
  • Use the free extra attention - going viral.
  • Monetizing your blog
    • Advertising
    • Sponsored posts
    • Indirect earnings - get an assignment outside of your blog.
  • Value yourself first.
  • Do not work for free.
  • Blog is your showcase.
  • Build your brand - offline
    • Get armed
      • Business cards
      • Press kit
      • Portfolio
      • Networking
      • Blogging community - give first and join relevant events only.
  • Building your brand online
    • Through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Instagram.
    • Facebook pages - Make it discoverable for potential clients and media.
    • Use Twitter for brand building. 


Third Session by Rachit Hirani


The next speaker, Rachit Hirani, is an automotive journalist who writes on Motor Octane.

Rachit Hirani


What Rachit Said 

  • The key giveaway from Rachit's session was to plan and track your blogging days, months, and weeks in a calendar year.

Fourth Session by Kiran Manral


I had been meaning to see Kiran in action. Besides being a celebrated author, she was also a judge for one of the blogging contests I had participated in awhile ago. I spoke to Kiran minutes before her session to ensure if she had read my entry for that particular contest and she had asked me to tweet the URL. I am still to hear from her! 

Kiran Manral


What Kiran Said 

  • Provocative content makes you:
    • Read
    • React
    • Ponder
    • Respond
  • Find your niche and then go even more niche.
  • Tell a story. Tell it well.
  • In your blog post, reel them in, fling them out. Have a sense of closure.
  • Give anecdotes - your blog is intimate.
  • Listicles work. 


Stand-up Comedians - Srijan Kaushik and Manik Mahna


I thoroughly enjoyed both the stand-up acts, although Manik had to cut short in between.

Stand-up Comedians - Srijan & Manik

Fifth Session by Vishal Shroff - Content Consumption Trends and Monetization


Vishal works as a Senior Strategist - Channel Partnership Team with Google.

Vishal Shroff


What Vishal Said 

  • 30 million Indians are online today.
  • Those born in the last or current decade - Screenagers.
  • Mobile has changed everything today.
  • 65% of users in India access Internet via their mobile device only.
  • Mobile-only users are very different.
  • Mobile data plans in India are the cheapest in the world.
  • Telcos make money on the volume.
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Internet today.
  • Feel connected, express yourselves, and share experiences.
  • Content consumption has changed.
  • Advertiser may become publisher.
  • Huge opportunity to create quality content.
  • Create localized content (especially in Hindi).
  • Digital spends are increasing. INR 10,000 crores will be the digital spent in 2017-18.
  • Monetization opportunities:
    • Affiliate Marketing
    • Sponsored Content
    • Advertising Revenue
    • Direct Sales 


Sixth Session by Arun Nair 


Arun is the founder cum author of IndianEye.org.

What Arun Said


25 Problogging Tips
  1. Match the tonality and persona of your blog to match your professional aspirations.
  2. Write more about what you want to know and get better at it.
  3. Show up. Half of blogging is consistency. The other half is focus.
  4. Keep your blog content fresh by staying on top of news.
  5. Create a blog schedule. Compile blogging ideas in advance. Go to Quora and research topics you want to write on. Google Alerts is another option.
  6. Check out popular topics on other blogs. Check on Alexa.com - Top Keywords section (go for 7-days pro version).
  7. Build a bank of evergreen content.
  8. Keep headlines tight, as every word counts. Average length of a blog headline should not exceed 40 characters.
  9. Write great headlines.
  10. Bullets and numbered lists are easier to read.
  11. Provide image and table captions.
  12. Provide a beginning, middle and ending - rational approach.
  13. Pull a quote out from your blog and make it stand out.
  14. Write an excerpt for a blog article.
  15. Include the rel=canonical tag in the HTML at the top of your page to point copied versions of article.
  16. Optimize your URL for search and readability.
  17. Include pie charts and other stat data in blog posts.
  18. Time it well (betweenn 10 am to 6 pm). Engagement happens after 6 pm as there is less clutter.
  19. Tweet with different intros.
  20. Re-purpose content and publish on different channels.
  21. Publish an eBook (free on Amazon).
  22. Create a presentation from your blog and publish it on Slideshare.
  23. Share your posts with niche LinkedIn groups.
  24. Co-created context has social promotion built in.
  25. Give your blog time. Be patient.

Seventh Session by Aashish Chopra - Learning from Viral Video


Aashish Chopra is an award-winning viral video marketer, who works for ixigo. He makes and markets videos with millions of views.

Aashish Chopra


What Aashish Said

  • Overwhelming content density and too much competition in the blogging space.
  • Attention span of readers is 8 seconds only.
  • Topical content works (newsjacking).
    • What is the news that works?
    • Make it share worthy (tag friends).
    • Inspire action.
  • When making a viral video, ensure that the video is:
    • Fast and engaging (2 to 3 mins).
    • Solving a problem (make it useful).
    • Telling a story (storytelling beats production values).
  • Facebook is the new game changer. Focus on the following:
    • Conflict and Context
    • Action
    • Resolution
  • 5 thoughts to leave behind
    1. Blog like no one else is reading.
    2. Medium may come and go.
    3. Blogging is so much more.
    4. Stay inspired.
    5. Brands and businesses are increasingly relying on non-advertising content.
Thank you IndiBlogger and Big Rock for organizing the Word Up 2015 in Delhi-NCR. Can't wait for the next edition!