Opening its arms and homes, and greeting “Namaste” to the world is a nation whose unofficial religion is cricket.
While there is no information yet on the availability of ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 tickets, fans have in large numbers already booked their accommodation in host cities. Hotel room rates in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad have already skyrocketed more than 10-fold during the match days, especially for October 15 ahead of the highly-anticipated India-Pakistan match.
Room rentals have been costing close to $1,220, while many are already sold out for that day such as ITC Narmada, Courtyard by Marriott, Hyatt and Taj Skyline Ahmedabad.
In fact, a quick search on Google, three months ahead of the big-match day, shows that the least expensive flight, from Delhi to Ahmedabad on October 14 is priced between Rs 8000 ($98) and Rs 10000 ($122). This is already double than the normal rate, which is around Rs 3400-5200 ($42-$64).
Before the event kicks off in India, online travel agencies and booking engines are rushing to work up affordable stays for a million or more cricket fans.
The tournament will be held from October 5 to November 19 spanning 10 cities across Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Dharamsala, Delhi, Chennai, Lucknow, Pune, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata.
OTAs Cash in on the Opportunity
Budget hotel operator and aggregator Oyo said it will add 500 new hotels in host cities over the next three months to meet the surge in booking demand.
“These hotels will be strategically located near the stadiums, ensuring convenient access for all. Considering the unwavering passion of cricket fans, we want to ensure that they have access to affordable and comfortable accommodation options throughout their journey,” said Anuj Tejpal, chief merchant officer of Oyo Hotels and Homes.
Nishant Pitti, co-founder and CEO of EaseMyTrip, added that the World Cup will be a great opportunity for the homestays segment to scale and grow. “Luxury hotels that usually charge Rs 5000 ($61) per night are charging as high as Rs 50,000 ($609) during the match days. Therefore, online travel portals are now coming up with initiatives and campaigns to promote economical homestays for fans keen to travel and watch their favorite player strike a six,” he said.
MakeMyTrip — which currently has homestay properties spread across 1,100 cities, towns and villages — plans to increase its inventory of such properties across select metros during the cricket season.
“Historically, our efforts to increase penetration have been focused on leisure markets, but now we are targeting business cities. It will be a win-win for the host and the traveler as India gets ready to immerse itself in cricket fever,” said Parikshit Choudhury, chief business officer of alternate accommodation and customer contact group at MakeMyTrip.
The company has also constituted a ‘Host Your Home Cell,’ to facilitate the smooth onboarding of homes on MakeMyTrip’s homestay funnel.
Yatra is also experiencing an increase in booking queries and searches for the host cities. The company is offering fans a flat Rs 599 ($8) off on domestic flights and flat 18% off on hotels in the cities. Additionally, cricket fans can subscribe to Yatra Prime for instant savings over the subscription period and can also avail discounts on their hotel bookings.
“We are excited to bring the cricket euphoria to life for fans across the country. With our special hotel and flight fares, and our existing offerings like Yatra Prime membership, zero cancellation and book now pay later, we are committed to making live cricket matches accessible to all fans without putting a strain on their wallets,” said Sabina Chopra, chief operating officer for corporate travel and head of industry relations at Yatra.
For hotels which have suddenly become swamped with bookings, trying to go about “business as usual” is an impossible task. Now, hotel managers must find the perfect balance between accommodating guests who are in town for the World Cup, as well for those who are not.
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Photo credit: India is fanatical about World Cup cricket play. Tourism Victoria / Flickr