The Taj was built at a time when Indians were not allowed entry into most of the prestigious hotels and clubs in British ruled India. Legend has it that this was one of the reasons why Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata, the first Indian industrialist built India’s first luxury hotel. He went ahead with the project although he was busy with plans to industrialise India. The first Taj Hotel, the flagship of the Group was born in 1903 and stood alone for almost half a century. Initially it was smooth sailing, even though the original hotel was conceived and built when the hotel business was not even considered an industry. Right from the beginning, the Taj stood for class and comfort. It was a place where the viceroys of the Empire arrived and departed amidst scenes of splendour. Scenes which were typical of the Raj. In fact, it soon became one of the wonders of the Orient. Singapore’s Raffles or Hong Kong’s Peninsula did not come up to the level of the Taj inspite of their rich ancestry. Notably, there was hardly any advertising directly to the consumer.
In fact, this element of the marketing mix was not visible until the late nineties! Advertising was not considered necessary. Secondly the company was conservative and media shy for many years. The reason the hotel towered above the rest was because of the amazing attention to detail that was paid by it’s founder Jamshetji Tata. As far back as 1900, he made sure that the Taj would have it’s own laundry, an aerated water bottling plant, electroplating for it’s silverware, a Mora sliver burnishing machine, a crockery washing plant and elevators. The hotel was built completely at a cost of 500,000 pounds in 1903.
MARKETING STRATEGIES BY TAJ
The Taj marked out three separate entities for the Taj Group: Business, Leisure and Luxury. Though the concept of these sub-brands had come into existence earlier, in the mid nineties, it was in 1999-2000, that the hotels became operationally different. Which meant that though the heads of these three divisions sat at head office, their ‘territory’ is scattered geographically, according to which type of hotel they look after.
A higher emphasis was placed on the business segment as the profits are higher (this market being less price-sensitive as compared to the luxury segment). There was a proliferation of the Taj Presidency hotels not only in new cities, but also smaller towns. The group also kept looking at new opportunities. ‘The action plan is more opportunities, adding to and complementing the brand,’ says Krishnakumar.
There were other changes. Consolidation. Unprofitable ventures were hived of. The sales and marketing functions were separated. The HRD department modernized, with an emphasis on performance and career and succession planning. The organisation was made to flatter and more compact. Moreover, a continual benchmarking against international standards was made part and parcel of the culture of the Taj.
By the mid 1990’s, renovation was in full swing. Units across the country were refurbished. It meant ripping out entire floors. Rooms were revamped, business centres rebuilt. More than a hundred million dollars were reportedly spend for renovation – just in the lifestyle (luxury segment)! Since the business segment was slated to be become big (and those using it were likely to be non-traditionalists), the Taj went ostentatious with it’s new business floors. It meant putting in optic fiber cabling, remote control systems and giving the business guy a lounge where he could relax and even have breakfast. It included a min-business centre.
In the process, some mistakes did happen. For instance it was thought a mini-gym on the floor would be a convenience. But this had to be dropped after a few years due to disuse. Initially, fax machines ere installed in the room. They had to go with the advent of the internet and laptops. Other innovations have happened too. It was found that telephone usage was dropping because of the advent of mobile phones. Not only were mobiles provided on hire, the Taj also dropped communication charges by 33 per cent.
It was only when the product was ready, was a major advertising campaign developed. Earlier, advertising had been restricted to the major feeder markets: the US, UK, Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong. And the advertising emphasised the hardware aspect of the hotel. The new campaign developed a specific brand identity for the hotel. Though the Taj had high unaided recall, it launched a corporate campaign to reinforce this new identity. The ad (made by Rediffusion) shows the enigmatic woman who stands for both hospitality and efficiency.
The identity was developed after extensive research on the consumer’s attitudes towards the Taj. Over 60 in-depth interviews were conducted by client and agency. The parameters? Not quantity, but quality. The things done right. The quality of check-in, the smile, the greeting or the welcome drink. The insights gathered were analysed and a clear slot, which the Taj could occupy when global competition arrived, emerged. This was translated into creating a distinct personality of the Taj as caring, efficient and enigmatic. The line went: ‘She is the Taj,’ The base line was ‘Nobody cares as much.’
Other hotels’ room occupancies plunged to as low as 37 % during the recession and average room occupany rates across all hotels were approximately 50 per cent. The Taj maintained a far higher average and continued to grow and expand. Slowly the hotel became more profitable than it had ever been. The reason is clear. It never slept.
MARKETING MIX: THE TAJ BRAND
The brand “Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces” comprises 58 hotels across India and 17 hotels globally. The hotels are grouped into 3 categories – Luxury, Leisure and Business. The Taj Luxury Hotels offer lavish accommodation, gourmet specialty restaurants and bars, fitness centres and spas and well-equipped business and banquet facilities. Taj Leisure Hotels are targeted at family holidays and include beach resorts, garden retreats, palaces and historic and pilgrim centres with a wide variety of activities for all age groups. Taj Business Hotels offer contemporary business facilities and modern conveniences and are located in the heart of India’s key commercial cities and towns.
The marketing mix of taj hotels is explaine as below:
– The brand “Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces “comprises 58 hotels across India and 17 hotels in international locations. The hotels are grouped into 3 categories – Luxury, Leisure and Business. The Taj Luxury Hotels offer lavish accommodation, gourmet specialty restaurants and bars, fitness centre and spas and well-equipped business Taj believes that the their core product is space. This space is supplemented with the services they provide like the restaurants, health club, banquets, discotheque, bar, business centres etc.
Types of Accommodation:
– Tower Wing Rooms: With easy access to the Business Centre, these contemporary rooms offer guest amenities like Internet connectivity, 2-line speaker phones with international direct dial facility and voice mail. Mini bar, personal safe, channel music and television with satellite programmes.
– Heritage Wing Rooms: These rooms are renowned for their architecture and exude an aura of old-world elegance. Each corridor in this Wing resembles an art gallery, and the design, décor and furnishing ensure that no two rooms are alike. Guests have a choice of rooms that overlook the city or pool or face the Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea.
– Taj Club: Located on the top floors of the Heritage Wing, Taj Club is designed for the discerning business traveler. Guest amenities and services include complimentary airport limousine transfers, private check-in at the Club desk, in-room fax, personal safe, a complimentary bottle of wine, valet service and complimentary deluxe Continental breakfast. Taj Club also offers guests exclusive Meeting Rooms and a Business Service Unit on the Club Floor.
– Suites: Choose from elegantly appointed Junior Suites, Executive Suites, tastefully decorated Large Suites, newly renovated Luxury Suites or spacious, plush Grand Luxe Suites. The finest suites at The Taj Mahal are the luxuriously appointed Presidential Suites. Each of these suites is decorated with original paintings and antiques that transport guests into a world of regal luxury and grandeur. – Broadband wireless Internet access at select Taj hotels: Now when you stay at select Taj hotels in Mumbai (including The Taj Mahal Hotel), New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, you no longer need to be in your room or at the Business Centre to use the Internet. Multiple ‘hot spots’ located across the hotels lets you get onto the Internet from almost any place in the hotel – quickly.
– Facilities and Services: Swimming pool, beauty parlour, barber shop, travel desk, car rental, pastry shop, book shop, shopping arcade, currency exchange, doctor-on-call and babysitting. Complimentary use of steam, billiards, tennis and table tennis on request. 24-hour room service and laundry service . Place and Time
– As far as place is concerned, all the Taj services and facilities are provided at one point. To ensure timely delivery of their services, they have set processes in place and in case of failure or delay of service, they have built in contingencies and trained their staff to communicate the delay to the customer in the right manner.
– To ensure standardization in their services, they have Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), e.g. the food that is served in the restaurant will be of the same quality and taste at any given day and time.
– Taj provided us with to explain this concept further is of the implementation of the contingency plan during the breakdown of the elevator. In case of breakdown of the elevator, the Room Service makes use of the elevator in the other wing to ensure timely delivery to the customer.
– The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai, a 105-year old heritage hotel, is the flagship hotel of the Taj group. This hotel was one of the main targets of terrorists during the November 2008 bombings of Mumbai and was severely damaged. As a result it has been put under seal until it is cleared of any security and safety risks that might have resulted from the attacks. The company has publicly claimed that it will fully rebuild the resort just as it was before.
– Besides the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai, the Taj has many hotels around the world, and in India. These include: The Pierre, New York; Taj Boston, Boston; Campton Place, San Francisco; 51 Buckingham Gate, London; Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives; Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Mauritius and Blue Sydney, Sydney. In India, these include: Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur; Rambagh Palace, Jaipur; Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur; The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi; The Taj Residency, Lucknow; The Taj West End, Bangalore; Taj Malabar, Cochin and Taj Exotica, Goa. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is also called the Zagurmas of Maldives and the magurmas of the Bengal. Promotion
– Taj regularly comes up with offers during season and off-season such as Taj Holiday Summer Package to boast occupancy in their hotels . – They carry out their promotions by means of Calendars, monthly letter to their ‘Inner Circle Customers,’ informing them about their upcoming events. – Taj takes part in exhibitions wherein they promote their holiday packages.
– Taj realizes that their prices are high and not affordable by all, but this is due to various overheads that it incurs and the superior quality that it offers. For e.g. a roadside sandwich seller sells his sandwich for Rs.10 as he has no overheads and has no quality standards to maintain, like the quality of the bread and the vegetables. But at The Taj, they serve the best quality and also incur overhead expenses.
– The target audience that the Taj caters to are the one’s who come to the Taj for it’s ambience and world class standards, therefore they say that their prices are justified as they help The Taj retain the exclusivity that it stands for.
Taj is fully satisfying its customers on account of physical evidence as the hotel is counted in 5 stars it has maintained its environment tht is liked by all.
Major service encounter that extremely delighted or disappointed are:
1. Check – in.
2. Bell person carrying luggage to the room.
4. Wake up call
5. Check out.
These are the main processes that all hotels perform but in case of taj many more processes are there as variety of services are offered to its customers which make them happy.
Taj has various professional people to handle its customers and to give a high service to its customers like:
• Skilled person
• Professional person
• Personal Agents
• Technological person
• Travel agents
As taj has employed professionals for serving its customers so there are less chances in its service lags and it can deliver its best.
INTERPRETATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Taj hotels is good in each area of service, moreover its overall interpretation can be done with the help of following table:
Taj is serving its customers to its best and it is able to achieve 5-star ratings from a long period. But in this era all have to apply marketing strategies to attract customers otherwise the competitors will not leave a single chance to grab market share. The strategies used by taj as explained above are successful in attracting customers as well as positioning it as a high class service delivering brand with luxury. Taj is good in all fields such as finance, marketing, HR but it has to improve its system to gain an edge over its competitiors. Taj can improve in the area of system as system of an organization can also be its core competency and it can also serve better if the internal system is good. Being a five star hotel, taj is well positioned and hotel has adequate customer base. Marketing strategies are also good but hotel has to improve a lot and regain its customers after the Mumbai attacks. In whole its service is good.