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BW Businessworld

A Costly Affair

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Just less than 10 days to go, Jaypee Sports International (JPSI), the organizers of the 2011 Indian Grand Prix has cut grandstand ticket prices by almost 60 per cent. The tickets are now available at Rs 15,000 (for a day) compared to Rs 35,000 (for all three days) till a few days ago. Similarly, the classic stand ticket has been now pegged at Rs 4,000 against Rs 6,500 earlier. The picnic stand ticket will be available at Rs 3,000 against Rs 6,000 for the race day.

So what provoked JPSI to slash ticket prices?

According to JPSI, this strategic lowering in the price of tickets has been made as the promoters J.P Gaur and family were not really keen on the 3- day package sales since they wanted more people to come and be a part of the first ever F1 race in India. 

However, while there is a fall in the F1 ticket prices, spectators will still have to pay a packet just to be there. Air fares, hotel tariffs and after party rates are quite steep.

A Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai trip will cost more than Rs 20,000 against the average of around Rs 10,000. "This is unfortunate and discouraging that some airlines have increased ticket rates during the race days. We would have loved to welcome more people from outside the capital as the capacity of the circuit is over one lakh. But this is something which is beyond our control," says Askari H. Zaidi, senior vice president, Jaypee Sports International.

According to the travel portal makemytrip.com the sale of air tickets to Delhi has risen by 10 percent during the F1 days. However, in cost terms, these tickets are priced atleast 20 per cent higher than the normal.

Airlines are not the only ones making the most of the F1. Hotels have also joined the fray. "Most hotels are taking bookings on rack rates whereas they normally sell rooms at discounts of 25 to 30 percent during this time of year. The big hotels are all sold out while the market is open for three star and below. The influx is also area-wise. Every hotel in Noida is sold out for that duration," says Deep Kalra, founder and CEO, makemytrip.com

This has made a lot of people cancel their plans to Delhi during those days. "My friends from Mumbai were planning to come to Delhi for the first ever F1 race, however they are re-considering their travel plans as almost all the hotels are booked or are available at very high tariffs," says Saurabh Kapoor, working with an MNC in Gurgaon. JPSI itself has booked 60,000 rooms in and around NCR for that period.

Zinc InVision Hospitality that has built studio apartments with 220 rooms in greater Noida is almost sold out at an average rate of Rs 15,000 per day. 

"If you wake up at the last minute, you are ought to fall into a situation like this. This is a last minute demand and supply problem," says Ashish Hemrajani, founder and CEO, Bookmyshow.com. The company is expecting a revenue of Rs 80-90 crore from ticket sales and so far 70 percent of the sales has been done.

However the official F1 after-party partners LAP has seen tremendous booking. "The sales of the race tickets have nothing to do with LAP. We have a capacity of 1000 people and we are all sold out. We have a tied up with best of the celebrity guests in the world like Lady Gaga who will be performing at the after-party" says Arjun Rampal, actor and owner of LAP -- the restrobar founded by Rampal and restaurateur A.D Singh. The tickets for LAP start from Rs 25,000 and goes upto 10 lakh.

So what if entry to the F1 has become a tad cheaper. For F1 afficionados there is still a lot more to spend on over the 28th October weekend.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 31-10-2011)