e-travel firms record 30% rise in bookings for IPL, World Cup records 50%

Due to the ongoing Indian Premier League, online travel brands saw 20% growth in sales this year whereas hotel bookings saw an approximate 15% rise in their bookings during match days

e4m by Shweta Raaj Singh
Published: May 9, 2019 9:01 AM  | 7 min read
IPL and Cricket world cup

It has been a win-win situation for e-travel firms like MakeMyTrip, Ixigo, Thomas Cook and Cox and Kings who have seen a surge in online hotel and travel bookings courtesy ongoing cricket festival Indian Premier League (IPL) which is in its last leg. While the top online travel portals have been busy marketing their brand on digital platforms, cricket fans combining the holiday season with much-awaited ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, starting on May 30 led to an estimate rise of 50% bookings for travel and hotel. 

According to online travel brands, the ongoing IPL's marketing strategy led to 20% growth in sales this year whereas hotel bookings saw an approximate 15% rise in their bookings during match days. Online travel brands like Ixigo, MakeMyTrip, Cox and Kings and Thomas Cook informed exchange4media about the record growth registered by their e-travel firms, rise in booking for ICC World Cup 2019, and the promotional offers done by them to gain traction.

Sharp rise in travel and hotel booking for IPL to host cities

Karan Anand, Head - Relationships, Cox & Kings explained how the online portal, Cox and Kings, Travel Company, witnessed a rise in booking with cricket fans indulging into leisure packages. “IPL is a big draw with fans and they follow their favourite teams to different destinations. This year Cox & Kings recorded 30% surge in travel bookings during IPL season during which cricket lovers travelled extensively to watch the matches. Most of them combined their tours with leisure packages with include accommodation with local sightseeing and other recreational activities. Some fans even opted for self-drive tours from the match venue,” he said.

When asked about the sales growth registered compared to last year, Anand said that Cox and Kings, sales grew 5% more than the last year. However, unlike the last year people booked the packages well in advance to avoid the last minute rush, he added. 

According to Anand not only there was a rise in sale of tickets the heritage sightseeing was well received by the fans. “Destinations around the match venues benefited the most by IPL. Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Alibaug, Agra, Mysore and Puducherry were among some of the most visited destinations during IPL season,” quips, Anand.

Cox and Kings was benefited this IPL season owing to the special offers and tailor-made packages given to travellers. Anand says, “Hotel booking also recorded a rise in terms of booking. To avoid the last minute hassle, many people booked in advance this year. Tailor-made packages and special offers for travellers to different cities saw an upward sales growth trajectory. The demand for such packages surged by 20% during IPL season.”

Having believed that globally sports tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry and Indians are showing more enthusiasm than ever before for visiting a country to attend sports event, Vipul Prakash, COO, MakeMyTrip, said according to MakeMyTrip, Cricket is the first love for many Indians, the numbers continue to show an upward trajectory with more and more people traveling to watch the game, whether within India for IPL or overseas for mega events like the World Cup. “Cricket is a sport that appeals across socio-economic strata and traverses demographic and geographical barriers. ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is one of the biggest global events this year and it coincides with one of the busiest travel time for Indians during the summer holiday season. At MakeMyTrip, we have witnessed a growth of about 30% for the inaugural match between India and South Africa, for ICC World Cup 2019.” 

Shuchi Chawla, Head of Brand Marketing, ixigo said that the e-travel firm witnessed a huge surge in demand for people booking flights and hotel accommodation through their platform. Sharing the marketing strategy Ixigo adopted to reach to consumers, and advertised this IPL season, Chawla pointed, “ We noticed that the majority of fans who check IPL scores while traveling face issues due to low internet connectivity. Keeping this in mind, ixigo for the second year introduced an IPL scorecard on the home screen of its Trains App. With the IPL scorecard, travellers can check live scores while they are on the go, with ease. Through this feature, ixigo users are able to subscribe to notifications for their preferred match in order to receive live score updates even in low network areas. Android users can even access the scores in offline mode!"

According to Chawla, Ixigo recently conducted a travel trends survey which revealed that with the commencement of IPL 2019, there was a 20% increase in flight and hotel booking for host cities. “Our travel report also showed that 61% cricket fans from Urban India travelled to other cities to watch their favourite team play. 57% of these respondents are between the age bracket of 25-34. Most travellers opted for a 2 night/ 3 day trip, with solo travellers opting for single day packages to watch the upcoming final. Host cities saw an 18% increase in hotel booking growth during the IPL season."

Despite a spike in domestic airfares with Jet Airways being grounded, cricket fans went full throttle to cheer for their teams. Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head – Holiday, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said that Cricket has always been a significant powerful driver across their travel businesses. “This year too we have seen a strong surge with our sales teams reporting an impressive 36% increase in demand in comparison to the previous year- with the twin bonanza of IPL (till May 12, 2019) and the World Cup in the UK (May 30- July 14, 2019).”

“What is noteworthy is that the uptake in demand is not restricted to just the metro venues like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata but also mini metros like Jaipur and Mohali. Last week’s Chennai match saw a surge in demand by over 32%. With ETA enabled tourist visa-on-arrival (TVoA) for foreign nationals from 59 countries,  impromptu travel plans for events like the IPL is made more convenient and hassle free thus ensuring smoother execution,” added Kale. 

For Brag Value - cricket fans set to travel to UK, online travel portals record over 50% sales 

The powerful “brag value” of having watched a match in UK’s London, Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds is clearly working its magic; and this is reiterated via the innumerable posts and pics flocking social media. To witness the high octane drama, when the cricket fervour would reach its pinnacle and men in blue would perform this ICC Cricket World Cup, e-travel firms have already received queries and registered 50% sales growth. 

Given that cricket is a passion if not a religion for most Indians, Kale said that they continue to receive bookings for the World Cup not just from the corporate world (contributing over 50%), but also from millennials (18%), ad hoc groups of friends and family (25%) and also the discerning luxury traveller (5%). “Interestingly, we’ve been able to leverage our corporate travellers by converting them into b-leisure consumers by extending a business trip or even a transit point (London/Manchester) to a cricket holiday with spouse and family or friends via our ‘City Breaks’,” added Kale. 

According to Prakash, the online portal witnessed about 50% of growth in travel booking for the third week of June when Team India is playing three important matches including the one with Pakistan. “We have specially curated packages available for Indians travelling to London around the World Cup and have an array of special deals and discounts in partnership with various banks available on our platform.” 
According to Prakash, there has also been a shift in the interest for other sporting events like the Soccer World Cup or the Olympics. “We saw a significant uptick for travel to Russia last year during the Football World cup and this trend is likely to register strong growth.”

On the other hand, Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-Founder, ixigo pointed out that UK can expect an increase of 15-20 % of Indian tourist arrivals during the World Cup season this year. “We have experienced a 27% increase in the number of enquiries for that period. Fans are spending anywhere between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for their trip. Bookings are expected to go up by 50% YoY and hotels will also see 100% occupancy just ahead of the World Cup. From the past trends, majority of the travellers are males between the age group of 20-30 , travelling in small groups.”

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