Performance incentives? Try a trip down under for the cricket-crazy

22 Dec,2011

By Meenakshi Verma Ambwani

 

Incentives are hard to come by in difficult times such as these. So when computer accessories firm Logitech announced to a set of top performers and about 100 channel partners that they had been chosen for a holiday trip Down Under to watch the Indian-Australia cricket matches, it came as a pleasant surprise.

 

For one, nobody was expecting a year-end incentive such as this. Two, no one had in their wildest imagination thought a cricket match could be on a holiday package. “Incentive tours are part of our regular corporate interactions. The challenge, however, is to find an exciting destination every year. This time, we got to know about travel packages that included the India-Australia cricket tour, and we decided to go ahead,” says Mr Subratah Biswas, country manager for India and South-west Asia at Logitech.

 

As the Indian team pads up for another battle with archrivals Australia in their own backyard, a few companies are using this opportunity to reward high performing employees, clients and distribution partners. Sports tourism is starting to find its feet with Indians, both at the corporate and the individual levels.

 

A Jaipur-based tour operator Ashoka Holidays has designed a unique package for aspiring cricketers and their coaches or parents for a trip to South Africa. They are offering a stay and training to aspiring cricketers. The tour would cover places like Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth and Oudshroom and passes or participation in five cricket matches against local teams.

 

Even big travel firms like Kuoni are now offering packages for cricket, badminton, F1, etc. Tourism Australia says it is expecting a lot of Indians during the upcoming Australian Open tennis in Melbourne. This year, an estimated 30-35% of Indian footfalls are expected in the first three months of 2012 primarily due to the two sporting events. In 2011, an estimated 1,50,000 Indians visited Australia, says Tourism Australia’s country manager Mr Nishant Kashikar.

 

Travel firms have been quick to gauge the mood. Executives say sports-related travel packages have been in vogue since the Indian Premier League in South Africa in 2009. Today, companies like SOTC Sports, Cutting Edge Events, Makemytrip and Cox & Kings are offering a range of itineraries and packages from just about 2 night-3 days to 6 nights-7 days for Australia.

 

Packages start at about Rs 1-1.3 lakh per person and go up to over Rs 2 lakh per person, which includes airfares, hotel stays, match tickets and visits to stadiums, museums, etc. Industry players estimate that of the 11-12 million travelers who travel abroad every year, nearly 2-2.5% are travelers who design their incentive travel around sports. This segment, though niche, is growing at nearly 15-20% year-on-year depending on the sports calendar in the year.

 

“Besides cricket, there is a growing demand for incentive tours around sports like soccer, F1, tennis and golf,” says Mr Mayank Khandwala, co-founder of Cutting Edge Events, which specialises in sports tourism. The company expects companies to plan their outbound incentive tours around UEFA Euro Cup, besides tennis championships like Wimbledon and French Open. In fact, Wimbledon has become a major platform for Indian businessmen to network with bankers and companies.

 

Delhi-based electrical and power distribution equipment manufacturer, Havells is taking a bunch of employees and dealers to Australia for the cricket matches. Mr Vijay Narayanan, vice-president (marketing) at Havells India, says, “Last year we had organised an incentive tour for our employees and channel partners to Bangkok. This time we might head to Australia during the long cricket tour.”

 

“We are receiving a lot of enquiries for the Indian cricket team’s tour of Australia, especially for the one-day and T20 matches and are in talks with 16-17 companies who are planning incentive tours,” says Mr SD Nandakumar, head, sports incentive tours (outbound division) at Kuoni India. He says there is less demand for the first two test matches as the timing coincides with Christmas and New Year.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2011, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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