It’s rare when a telecom service provider would urge you to talk less or consume lesser data. It’s even more rare, when they would ask you to put your phone away.
What started as a small social experiment in Mumbai restaurant, could soon be scaled up across the country. The next time you visit a coffee shop or an ice-cream parlour, don’t be surprised if they offer to keep your phone at the reception as a phone-valet service. A leading chain of tea bars and a chain of ice-cream parlours, among other retailers are in talks with telecom major Vodafone to set up phone-valet services at their outlets.
Last month, on St Valentine’s Day, the telecom services brand had engaged in a social experiment called #LookUp, by offering phone valet services to couples at a restaurant in Mumbai. This service enabled couples (who walked in for their date night) to park their phones with the concierge. Siddharth Banerjee, executive vice president (EVP) - marketing and head of brand, insights, media, activation and digital at Vodafone India says, “While on one hand technology has connected people, at another level it has also distanced people across countries and cultures.”
With this idea of a phone valet, the promise was that it would enable the guests to have an evening free of distractions and focus only on one thing that matters – real conversations. The idea by Vodafone’s brand team and their agency Ogilvy managed to convert about 50 per cent of the guests who were approached (12 out of 30 couples agreed to park their mobile phones with the valet).
But it was the video of the initiative that got the brand more than 15 million views and also got one lakh consumers taking a pledge to spend more time having real conversations with their loved ones.
Banerjee adds, “As the Indian market is increasingly consuming more data, and is active on social media, there are times in life when it’s better to have real conversations.” Hence, the brand took the leap of faith and launched this initiative around St Valentine’s day. Banerjee says that the message has resonated not just with customers but also with employees of his own organisation. Speak about walking the talk.