Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Coorg Trip, Courtesy Club Mahindra

Will it be fun to holiday at the expense of a company whom you’ve criticized heavily in your blog?

This blogger is just back from a trip to Kodagu (Coorg), fully sponsored by a leading resort and holiday company. Earlier last month, Arun Nair, Senior Manager, Marketing, MHRIL, approached me asking if I’m interested in taking a free trip to their Coorg resort. In other words, Club Mahindra was organizing a free all expense paid trip to a set of select travel bloggers and writers and asked me if it will be convenient for me to join.

At first I wasn’t sure to what extent this was true. I was bit skeptical about the offer and was thinking why they have picked me. If you’ve not been regular at this blog, you should know that I had written extremely negative article about Club Mahindra’s life membership,[Read that post here] by highlighting all negative aspects and drawbacks of their life membership scheme and advising readers not to opt for Club Mahindra’s life membership. This article eventually reached top of Google search results for keyword ‘Club Mahindra’ and was appearing right below Club Mahindra’s official website and within top 3 positions. Naturally the article drew lot of readers and got over 133 comments so far, with majority of them agreeing with me and stating that they are upset with CM or have decided not to take CM life membership after reading my post.

with elephant Ekadanta at Dubare Elephant Camp
Photo: eNidhi India CBO with elephant Ekadanta and fellow travel bloggers Anita and Dev at Dubare Elephant Camp. Photo by Mridula. Standby for more photos and details.

I didn’t have anything personal against Club Mahindra and harming their reputation was not my intention. I’d written that post as I felt that investing lakhs of rupees in timeshare is unlikely to deliver the value it is supposed to, because there’re so many things that can go wrong and in India if it CAN go wrong, usually it WILL go wrong. But obviously all these meant that my article did cause some loss of business to Club Mahindra and there was every reason why they should be quite upset with me.

An all expense paid trip was last thing I was expecting from them.

After evaluating the invitation for its pros and cons, after checking my leave availability (thanks to my manager for granting leave) and after taking opinions from few close contacts I accepted the offer, as I felt I can get an opportunity to explore their facilities and interact with their executives.

Arun Nair,(Sr. Manager, Marketing) was extremely friendly and helpful throughout. He used to reply my mails within hours, even on Sundays. He offered to arrange air tickets from Chennai to Bangalore and back. (I was thinking I may have to travel on my own to Coorg, because the Free holiday coupons they issue to their prospective customers cover accommodation only) When my name of wrongly printed he got a new ticket issued for me with correct name. He called me in person several times to ensure everything is smooth.

The trip was great. Had an opportunity to interact with over a dozen bloggers, writers and photographers hand picked for this expedition. More about the trip, other bloggers whom I met during the trip, an interview with Club Mahindra executive, about CM’s Coorg Resort etc will be published in separate posts in near future.

For the interim period, let me answer few of your probable questions:

How was the trip?
Great. (Standby for detailed posts)

Are you going to change your stand on CM now?
My concern was mainly about the drawbacks in the concept timeshare membership and wasn’t against any resorts as such. I will write a detailed review of their Coorg resort but my stand on timeshare remains unaffected, at least for the near future (till they do take some concrete measures to protect members against the possible worst case scenarios)

Did they ask you to delete the post?
No. I had a detailed discussion with CM's Marketing executive Arun Nair and he made an attempt to understand why I wrote that post and why I've written against Club Mahindra. I raised the same points which I'd written in my post and got his clarifications on the same. Some explanations I got were genuine, some were forward looking. Separate post detailing that interview can be read here.

In fact none of the participants were under any obligation to write anything. But then, bloggers are bloggers. They will write whatever they see, feel and experience-No need to ask them :). All posts I'm writing are at my own discretion

Are you going to delete that legendary post?

No. But I’m going to update it with Club Mahindra’s view point as well-so that the readers get my view followed by Club Mahindra’s views/explanations on the concerns I’ve raised regarding timeshare membership- That way readers get both sides of the story and helps them decide for themselves.

What next? You’re planning to write articles against other companies as well?
(Like “Never go for Country Club”, “Never go for Sterling Resorts”, “Never stay in Taj Hotel” etc?)

Nice Idea…But No thanks.

More details and photos in this post.

Related: Club Mahindra Coorg Resort Review|Club Mahindra Life Membership|Abbi Falls|Dubare Elephant Camp|Omkareshwara Temple|Talakaveri|Bhagamandala|


hari said...

Well, glad that worked out fine, Shrinidhi. Hopefully Club Mahindra will provide better schemes after taking your inputs.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for bearing with Blogger and caring to comment.

Bhupesh said...

Cleaver thinking from CM, they manage to get a nice coverage of their resort on a blog which come just next to their listing in Google search by spending just 25k on transportation part.

Also it should smoothen the impact of criticism on this page on blog visitor.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Bhupesh: Agreed :)

I'm waiting to see how readers will respond once I publish interview with CM executive.

Sarvesh said...

Hi Shri,

I had seen the mention of Club Mahindra in many of your posts but never really got a chance to read about it. It seems like a timeshare concept. If so, i definitely need to check out looking at my US time share experience.

Glad it worked out for you and your pic with Ekadanta rocks.!!


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes, it is about timeshare business. Have a look at the post and hundreds of comments as well...