Spirit W | Spend but be cautious, Marriott's Khushnooma Kapadia

An impressive career spanning 17 years, Khushnooma Kapadia has worked with renowned organizations such as Arthur Andersen, Good Relations (I) Ltd and is currently the Director of Marketing Communications with the Marriott Group of Hotels – India.  Her perseverance for excellence has seen her grow from Manager – Marketing Communications at the JW Marriott Mumbai to her present role.

Articulate, intelligent and self- motivated Khushnooma Kapadia brings foresight and vision to her role as Director of Marketing Communications, Marriott India. Adgully caught up with Khushnooma Kapadia, Director of Marketing Communications, Marriott India to know more about her journey and the industry she caters to.

A University topper, Khushnooma has completed her MBA in management from the well-known Jamnalal Bajaj College in Mumbai. Her foray in the corporate world began with Arthur Anderson followed by a five year tenure in PR with Good Relations. She then moved to the JW Marriott Mumbai and has since completed over 10 years with the Marriott Group. .

Speaking about her journey, she said, “The Journey has been really hectic, busy yet interesting and one which has consistently kept me challenged. I have been actively involved in the process of brand development and sustenance through a focused effort involving both communication and marketing techniques. Working for a progressive organisation such as Marriott has been a tremendously growth oriented journey. The 10 years done don’t seem that long given the amount I have learnt and continue to do so.

Her dedication and strategic planning helped position JW Marriott Mumbai as the ultimate luxury destination in Mumbai.

She is currently responsible for corporate communications and marketing for all India operations of existing Marriott properties and setting up the Marketing & Communications road map for new properties under the chain. Kapadia oversees and manages the marketing operations of 23 operational hotels across India, while she has played an instrumental role in the launch of 20 of those hotels within the Group.

Kapadia said, “Marriott is well on it's way to some serious expansion in the country and it's amazing to be a part of this period of staggering growth. In 2013 we opened 8 hotels, this year we began with the opening of the Courtyard Bilaspur. On 1st October we opened doors to our astoundingly beautiful resort property the JW Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa. By the end of 2014 we shall see a few more hotels added to the Marriott bouquet in the country.

The hospitality industry as we know is very creative and niche too, so in her opinion the marketing strategies are what help the brands in this industry to make their presence felt, she said, “There is no one cap that fits all. I feel marketing strategies depend upon the brand values, positioning, target audience and several factors. The strategy I would use for a JW brand would not necessarily be used for the Courtyard brand or the Fairfield brand. We  keep modulating our approach depending on the brands we cater to. The world is evolving at a such a fast pace that the era of 'what worked then would work now' is changing. It is all about change, innovation and catering to the emerging new generation traveler.

If we go 5 to 6 years back, going to a ‘Five Star Hotel’ for lunch or dinner would be a big thing but today it is no more a huge aspiration. Sharing her views on the same, she said, “Yes, today an experience in a five star is a very reachable aspiration and hence we really have to be on our toes to meet the need and demands of our ever changing customer. For eg the JW brand is positioned in the 'approachable luxury' space hence all elements of service operate with that value proposition.

As mentioned above, that the marketing space has evolved tremendously and the biggest change according to Kapadia is Digital. She believes everything is going digital today, and social media has become an integral part of advertising, it has made brands consistently evolve and innovate. “Apart from Social Media, I have seen PR too evolving very dramatically. Today it is about how well a brand is communicating a story. It is about quality over quantity. For eg when we think of advertising, given the considerable spends involved I would want to grab all viable option which are high impact, highly visible and ensure capture of eyeballs,” she added.             

A strong believer of the fact that spend but be cautious, when asked how does she splits her media costs, Kapadia said, “Earlier 'price' would play an important role in terms of choosing a medium but today brands spend huge amounts but at the same time make sure that the cost spent creates a huge impact on the consumers. For Marriott PR and Innovative advertising top the focus list across the country. So it is a healthy mix between PR and traditional media. We are not so such into print space as I believe that it is just a onetime huge investment; and if missed by consumers lakhs of rupees get flushed…:

On the mobile front she mentioned that they have introduced a new app too. Elaborating on the front, she said, “We have recently launched a mobile app. Though it is a bit early but we wanted to tap into that space in a big way.”

The Hospitality industry is one that has a lot of competition yet players are not that loud and robust. Competition is so high that every hotel wants to attract the maximum amount of consumers and everyone is using all the possible creative tools and mediums. So when asked any learnings that she got from the competition and would want to incorporate in her own strategies, Kapadia said, “This is an on-going space. There are some players that do really good job in terms of advertising. The way they develop their collaterals, the way they design their campaigns is really impressive.”  

Khushnooma has attended several insightful leadership workshops, conducted by the Marriott Group of Hotels which have honed her as a professional and provided an extra edge to her already dynamic personality. In her “me” time Khushnooma loves to spend time with her two kids aside of being an avid reader. She is heavily into fitness which according to her really keeps her momentum going.



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