Fans book hospital beds as hotel tariffs reach new heights ahead of India-Pakistan clash in Ahmedabad. Image Courtesy: iStock
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A monumental "Clash of Titans" is on the horizon in India. The highly anticipated World Cup 2023 match between India and Pakistan is set to take place at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on October 15. Ever since the match date was announced, the hospitality and related sectors have dived into a frenzy. As the demand for accommodations in the host cities surged, an exponential increase in hotel prices followed suit.
The pan-India hotel chain - Lemon Tree which usually fares around Rs 10,000/day for a room is priced at a whopping Rs 86,831 in Ahmedabad around the match dates October 14-15. What is the rationale behind this, we inquire? Findings from a recent study by the online travel agency Agoda revealed a colossal 1702 per cent increase in searches for accommodations in Ahmedabad.
World Cup 2023 mania: Hotels vs. Hospital beds
The survey attributed this surge to the eagerly awaited India vs. Pakistan match and the final game, both scheduled to take place at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. In response to the overwhelming demand for hotel bookings in Ahmedabad, hotel owners took the opportunity to substantially spike their prices. They spiked the hotel room tariffs by 10-12 per cent. But, fans have their own quirks.
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In a bizarre series of events, local hospitals parallelly witnessed an enormous rise in inquiries for a day's stay at their healthcare centers. To counter the savage move by hotels, some cricket fans went to the extent of booking hospital beds for a full-body check-up. "This is a far better deal than staying in hotels that either run out of rooms or are insanely inflated," said Raunak Ritesh, a 26-year-old cricket fan from Hisar, Haryana who is all set to witness the showdown.
Speaking to Midday.com, Dr Shailesh Dalmia - a consulting ENT specialist from Ahmedabad informs that people are turning to hospitals for a unique solution to high hotel prices. They're booking hospital beds for an overnight stay and a complete health check-up. This way, they save money on accommodation and also get their health investigated.
"These individuals are willing to take different types of rooms, based on what's available. However, our priority is patient's health care and we are being careful about these bookings due to limited room availability," added Dalmia. Additionally, unlike hotels, where room rates can vary based on factors like weekends or festivals, hospital rates remain consistent regardless of the time of the month or the occasion - making it a more lucrative option for this peculiar situation.
Houseful hotels despite skyrocketing prices
The carnage doesn't end here. Upon deeper investigation, it came to light that all the hotel rooms, priced between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh, stand booked at the moment. While some fans are willing to pay extremely high prices, a number of hotels are completely sold out for the India vs. Pakistan weekend. Renowned 5-star establishments like Hyatt, NOVOTEL, Taj Skyline, ITC Narmada and Courtyard by Marriott in Ahmedabad have already reached maximum occupancy for October 14 and 15.
While Indians are die-hard cricket fans, the surge in hotel prices can also be owed to NRI fans who have their eyes set on the marquee match. Countries such as the U.K., U.S.A., Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia are at the forefront of the search charts for travel to other host cities like Dharamshala, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Pune during the match dates.
Consequently, this sporting event has led to a substantial 237 per cent increase in searches for various host cities all across India. To delve deeper into the impact of the World Cup 2023 edition on the hospitality sector, we spoke to Mr Abhishek Sahai who is the General Manager at the Hilton hotel chain - Conrad Pune.
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Are you seeing high traction for bookings for the ICC World Cup 2023? What's the occupancy you expect during the cricket World Cup in your properties?
The schedule has just recently been announced for the ICC World Cup 2023 matches. We have started receiving inquiries and requests for group bookings from various sources. Considering the popularity of the World Cup and the anticipation surrounding the event, we do expect the city's overall occupancy to be high during the tournament.
As the tournament draws nearer and teams are confirmed, we anticipate a surge in bookings and interest from cricket enthusiasts and fans. We are fully prepared to accommodate the influx of guests and provide them with a comfortable stay.
For which match dates are you seeing the highest traction in terms of hotel bookings? And what are the room charges during the World Cup schedule?
These are early days but it is safe to assume that maximum traffic would be there for Team India matches. All the matches scheduled in Pune are exciting and true cricket fans would like to enjoy all the live action. We are closely monitoring the demand and will make efforts to maximise occupancy during the tournament. Currently, our rates remain in line with our normal Best Available Rate (BAR) available which ranges between Rs 13,000 - 15,000 for a day's stay.
How important will be the Cricket World Cup for hotels this year in terms of business and occupancy? What will it mean for the hotel industry revenues?
Anticipating the World Cup to significantly drive demand, we expect the event to serve as a crucial catalyst for the city's hotels. Particularly, matches like Bangladesh vs. India, South Africa vs. New Zealand, and West Indies vs. England are expected to generate substantial interest and contribute to the much-needed boost in demand for city hotels.
How much do sports-related tournaments contribute to business and bookings for your properties? Any increase in business contribution from sporting tournaments you have seen now versus the pre-COVID period?
Sporting tournaments provide tremendous boost and growth opportunities to hospitality and related sectors. These events have the power to ignite a surge in bookings and business, propelling the hotel industry to new heights of success. We are gearing up for the influx of tourists and fans around the World Cup dates as occupancy rates soar.
The demand for top-notch amenities and services skyrockets, allowing the hotels to showcase their exceptional offerings. With group bookings pouring in, hotels need to up their game to offer a welcoming sanctuary for teams, officials, and supporters alike.
As the world triumphs over the challenges of the pandemic, sporting tournaments return with renewed vigour. This presents a golden opportunity for the hospitality sector to revive its losses incurred during the 3-year hiatus imposed by the pandemic. The vibrant spirit of sports is set to fuel the growth of hotels, accelerating it towards a prosperous journey.
Apart from cricket, are events of other sports attracting strong demand for hotel bookings? Could you share which are these sporting events?
In addition to cricket, other sporting events such as the ISL (Indian Super League) and Pro-Kabaddi League also generate a noticeable level of interest in the city. While our hotel has been hosting sports teams for several years now, it is evident that cricket remains the dominant sport with the most significant impact.
Are you seeing bookings by international travellers who plan to come to India to witness the World Cup?
Certainly. The interest from international travellers is massive. Our guests from other parts of the world are making booking arrangements to travel all over India to watch their favourite teams and players in action. We have room requests popping up from cities in the U.S.A., Malaysia and the Middle East. India, known for its warm hospitality is set to welcome cricket fans from abroad.