Expensive tickets, children’s examinations and updating year-end accounts: These are some of the factors that have forced companies to either scrap or scale down dealer and employee junkets to this year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.
A survey by a Delhi-based sports promotion consultancy firm says many of these companies are toying with the idea of sending delegations to Australia during the Indian cricket team’s trip this winter.
During the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, 37 companies sent huge teams—LG Electronics sent 800 people—on incentive and reward tours as part of human-resource initiatives.
This time, sports consultant Score’s survey reports that while 30 companies have planned trips to the West Indies, they are sending a significantly less number of people. One main reason for backing out of a Caribbean sojourn is the high price of match tickets, says Sunil Yash Kalra, a partner of Score. India’s curtain-raiser against Bangladesh on Saturday is not considered a big game for fans back home; the tickets have been priced at $499 (Rs21,956), $449 and $369 for the grandstand, enclosure and hamper categories of seats.
Added to this are hidden costs, such as transit fees and a stopover in either England or the US as there is no direct flight to West Indies. Flying via Florida costs between Rs80,000 and Rs1 lakh, and via London between Rs1 lakh and Rs1.25 lakh. Other major worries for companies are the high hotel rates and an acute shortage of budget accommodation. The cost of basic amenities and services is rather steep compared with Europe and other cricketing destinations across the world, says Kalra.
Saumil Majmudar, director, SportzVillage, a Bangalore-based official agent, says hotel rates have shot up from $200 to $700 per night. Worse, bookings often cannot be made for less than a week’s stay.
Despite it being an official sponsor, recognized by the International Cricket Council, LG Electronics will not send a single person this time. Says a company executive: “The trip is too expensive,” adding, however, that it was not just expenses that made LG shelve its plans. Dealers were not interested as the tournament clashed with the annual examinations of their children. “It’s not a holiday season.”
Another sponsor, Hero Honda, will send top-performing dealers and customers who bagged prizes in its “Heroes for Heroes” campaign. The company did not specify the contingent size, but people with knowledge of its numbers say it would be considerably less than the nearly 300 sent to South Africa.
Score says 23 out of the 37 companies that went to South Africa have postponed their incentive programmes to later this year when India visits Australia. The first Test begins on 26 December in Melbourne. The remaining three will be in January, coinciding with year-end vacations.