Ad Land’s Young Guns: Eshan Joshi, Marketing Head, Zostel

Eshan Joshi is the Marketing Head at Zostel, India’s largest community-led, experience-driven ecosystem committed to revolutionising the idea of travelling in India. In his present capacity, Joshi is responsible for overseeing the campaigns, collaborations, promotions and events, and festival curations for the brand. He holds an MBA in marketing from IMI Belgium and is also a polished and rough diamond grader certified by IDI Surat.

In conversation with Adgully, Eshan Joshi, Marketing Head,  Zostel, shares about his journey with Zostel, long term career in his sector, icons whom he look up to and more.

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?

Man management, considering I have run my own start-up in the past, the biggest takeaway from that stint for me was how to manage people, teams and expectations.

Zostel’s workforce is a close-knit community, and in marketing, we are a bunch of passionate travellers-turned-marketers who take great pride and ownership in what we put out through our platforms, so it’s always important to know how to manage expectations, workloads and emotions in such constructs.

Be in the game - For me, this is a skill that I need to constantly work on. You cannot guide or direct marketing efforts without being an active user of a platform. I see plenty of creators and establishments putting out courses on how to get big on platforms, including tips, tricks, hacks and shortcuts. In my opinion, there is no article or course which is the ‘be all end all’ to understand these platforms. While initially, I spent a lot of time reading articles. I have come to realise that the best way to get better at any platform is to become an active user. Of course, the courses and articles will give you some insights, but they will not help you build your intuition. What’s the most important thing for all these platforms? Remain consistent. Remaining active will help the consistency, following other creators/ pages in the same niche, following creators on top of different fields will help you understand and pick up on trends. Engaging with other pages and followers will keep your account active. There are a lot more benefits to just being active engaged user to help better understand the patterns.

How did you join your current organisation?

I joined it through a Facebook post asking for applications for this position. This is what I have learnt from my experience. I wanted to work with Zostel in some capacity ever since I stayed in one for the very first time. So, I did what someone should always do – follow the brand/ company on all social handles, then consistently check their pages and websites for any updates that might interest you. Soon enough, the opportunity will arise.

Icons in this field you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?

I have consumed all content produced by famous and known marketing professionals/ personalities like Philip Kotler, Seth Godin, Gary V, Neil Patel, etc. But I recommend one should also review works of these two individuals and here’s why...

Simon Sinek - Find your why. It’s a simple question that helps me start any campaign discussions. Once the brief is in place and we know what the communication is going to be, we ask ourselves - why? Why should we as followers of the brand care? or why should I as a consumer opt for this, or why are we doing this?

 The process of finding the answer to your why is the key to unlocking solutions and ideas. Simon Sinek has given great and especially empathetic explanations to marketing and organisation building.

Tanmay Bhat - It may be strange for some people to find him in this conversation but for almost a decade Tanmay has known the pulse of the Indian Youth, it was true when he was running AIB, and it is even more evident when now he is running multiple YouTube channels catering to different age groups and is writing ad campaigns for the biggest brands in the country. His actions, ventures and ideas always seem to capture the emotion of one of the other age groups. He has managed to connect with the audience as an individual, as a group and also via brands he may not be writing articles or taking lectures but a good student can always watch and learn.

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

To-do lists (I make them and I also hand them out): 

  • All internal calls and discussions happen before lunch, when people are fresh and energetic, all external calls happen after 3 pm, so as to make sure there is a clear distinction of work load and I can finish majority or the most important tasks before I get on calls that I do not know will last long or not. 
  • I eat that frog; I always do the most difficult or boring task first. Makes the day easier for me. (For reference EAT THAT FROG is a book on being productive and efficient)
  • Blocksite – It’s a plugin on my chrome browser which blocks entertainment sites during work hours, some might find it harsh but I think I get a lot of work done because I have blocked distractions. 
  • Workout - Feels like something that may not be linked with productivity, right? No, for me working out gives a sense of achievement that kick starts my day, it’s a win. I enjoy every day working out and it lifts my spirit for the rest of the day and keeps me going. Everyone has their own anchor - could be writing, reading or even knitting. if you do something you like at the start of the day, you will in most cases look forward to it. 

Do you think a career in this field is a viable one in the long term?

Yes, owing to the beauty of the internet, the world has become a smaller and more accessible place. We are in the business of opening new destinations to our traveller community; the more we succeed in our objective, the more employment opportunities will appear. We are actively trying to unlock this country for everyone to travel, and so are our competitors. Despite the slump the industry went through during covid, it will only get bigger and better from now.

What does it take to succeed in a career?

Happiness - work in a company and with people you will enjoy working and learn a lot from them. No amount of money, fame or experience is worth being unhappy.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?

Firstly, develop an interest in travel. Most of the Zostel employees are passionate and ardent travellers. Secondly, start from wherever you can. Get the foot in the door and build your way up. We have at least 7 employees who have started first as recruits and interns and are now heads of their departments including the current COO, Mr Deep Banka.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

We are in a position where I feel, as a company and an individual we can leave a mark in the travel industry which will remain as a benchmark for everyone else for a long time.

We have been leaders in the hostel space since the beginning. Now, as we find our foothold in other categories, I believe we can teach a thing or two to our new competitors.

Is there any organisation that you would like to work with in the future?

I would like to work for myself. Zostel’s work culture has given me the freedom to direct and lead the brand in a direction that I believe is best for our positioning in the market. The failures have taught me a lot and the successes have instilled faith in me about myself. The journey of building Zostel's marketing for the past 4 years, has indeed helped me build a confident and skilled professional within myself.


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