What it took to create the 50 year celebrations of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels

By Ruchika Mehta

Thriving for 50 years is no mean feat, and we at THE Park Hotels have done it! The moment, when you strongly feel that a project belongs to you, is when it truly does. That’s how I felt about planning 50 years of THE Park.

At the 50 years celebration in THE Park, Kolkata with Ms Priya Paul, Mr Bhuvan, Mr Ajit Garcha and other members of the Centenary Celebrations team

I still remember meeting Ms. Priya Paul, Chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, in 2010 for my interview where she mentioned we will be celebrating 50 years soon. At that time, it was eight years to the celebration but as they say time flies. From then on, I knew how important this 50 year celebration is for Ms. Paul and the Paul Family. I feel lucky to have witnessed this as well as planned the whole celebration.

Launch of the Centenary Celebrations at THE Park, Kolkata on 1st November 2017

We started work on this almost 7-8 months in advance. Our Managing Director Mr. Dewan had created a taskforce that would go on to oversee the 50 year celebrations that was spearheaded by me.  We planned the entire calendar year of activities both for external as well as internal stakeholders, which were planned under the guidance of Mr. Dewan. Budgets were allocated and teams were created for executing the year-long celebrations that were held in Kolkata, Goa, Chennai, London, Bangalore, Delhi and Vizag. Each design for the event was done keeping in mind creating a never seen before act for the city. We started with Kolkata where it all began with a 50 hour long party.

At the 50 years celebration in THE Park, Bengaluru with Ms Priya Paul, Mr Sethu Vaidyanathan, Mr Vijay Dewan, Mr Sharad Dewan and Mr Ajit Garcha

A seamless integrated communications campaign called #50yearsofTHEPark was run for the golden jubilee celebrations. The campaign was largely covered through 3Cs: ContentCommerceConversations. The Cs were joined in a holistic way to bring forth the nuances of the brand. To strike a deeper connect with the stakeholders, the campaign traveled from Kolkata to Vizag, covering each property in the journey to celebrate the magnanimous moment. Each city had a distinctive event, which threads the essence in one string. It started from Kolkata with a never heard of ‘50-hours party’. The brand promise of Anything But Ordinary (ABO) experiences were brought alive through digital, print, events and transit media which were created and distributed across our 7 brand pillars. The 360-degree campaign brought together both our internal and external stakeholders, be it old or new.

Transit Advertising Campaign of the Centenary celebrations on the trams of Kolkata

We advertised on the trams of the city of Kolkata as part of transit advertising campaign, which generated great excitement in the minds of our audience. Meanwhile, until we reached out to each city, considerable pre-buzz had been created to pump up the excitement all around. Integration of advertising campaign coupled with targeting the audience through digital media and influencer marketing helped us reach out to our valued guests with much fanfare. THE Park Hotels carry the legacy in its inherent brand construct. The touchpoints of the campaign ensured that today’s generation connects well with the memories and stories of the long served guests.

Their memories were curated in a series of videos that ran for 52 weeks. The nostalgic moments of how a guest met his wife in Tantra, one of the fun restaurants at THE Park Hotels or a guest recalling his childhood days who now visits our hotel with his children – were some of the beautiful moments that depicted their love towards us. The strategy of integrating their testimonials in the digital voice gave strength to our campaign. Events and activities were planned for the internal stakeholders also.

With Ms Priya Paul and Mr Vijay Dewan at Travel + Leisure India South Asia’s India’s Best Awards 2018

It was a mammoth task to plan and design this entire event. The extraordinary energy that generated from the excitement across THE Park Hotels brought alive customers’ delight. Each city had its expectations, cultural nuances and a very different kind of audience. To create something that was different than what we did in another city to also match up to high expectations we had set became agonizing for us too but the response we received was massive. We had set a high expectation after our Kolkata event and the good word quickly had spread across. Our customer and guests from each city were waiting with anticipation. 50 Years Celebration became an able catalyst to strongly reconnect with our old patrons and brought them back to our threshold, made them feel relaxed and homely. More than a summation of increased footfall and associating with new ones, the event was a reflection of the powerful relationship THE Park Hotels continue to enjoy with its patrons.

With Ms Priya Paul and Mr Vijay Dewan during 50 Years Celebration at London

I love my work and consider myself a passionate hotelier. There are so many interesting projects that I am constantly working on that there is always enough reason to be back at work. My journey at the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels has been one of the most enriching and learning experience in my career. Every year in my journey of more than 8 years in the company, I have been confided with some great projects to work on. Exposure and learning has been immense. It’s also very exciting to be part of the organisation’s journey when we are growing fast and there is so much one can do and contribute. In my first month of joining, I got entrusted with the entire rebranding exercise of THE Park Hotels. From negotiating with the agency to working with Ms. Paul and Mr. Dewan on the creation of our new identity the whole experience was phenomenal. Not only did we do the entire rebranding, but we also gave birth to our Zone brand. In the first quarter of my joining, I also got involved with the Apeejay Surrendra Group Centenary Celebration events and we opened THE Park Hyderabad, on April 1, 2011, one of the 100 initiatives, under the 100for100 Centenary Celebrations Plan with which the Group corner stoned this huge milestone. From planning on the event to the entire execution, it was an overwhelming experience. 

Discussing a point with Ms Priya Paul

It is no secret that Ms. Paul zealously and carefully works on every project. It’s been an honour and privilege to work with her and learn so much from her. She is an inspiring leader and a boss who is always there to guide, support and empower, and champions if we get stuck or fall.

Thanks to a wonderful boss, I have learnt the bedrock for managing work life balance from Ms. Paul and Mr. Dewan that it is important to delegate and empower your team members to do the right job.  Since great work cannot sustain independent of having a lighter side to life, so having few hobbies is important to keep oneself balanced too. Reading, listening to music and going for my pilates class form my outlets for self-expression and ways to unwind. I am lucky to have a family who equally believes and supports my ambitions and aspirations. They back me in my testing times to move forward. ‘Believing in self is the key to success’, resonates in its truest sense with me.

With my family

Ruchika Mehta is Corporate Director – Communications & Public Relations, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels.

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