India to account for 40% of T20 World Cup audience as sports travel reaches pre-Covid level

September 15, 2022

In the run-up to the T20 World Cup cricket tournament scheduled to begin in Australia on October 16, DreamSetGo, the official travel agent for the tourney, expects 3,000 Indians to travel with them.

The company estimates the Indian market to account for 40 percent of the total audience travelling for the games.

“From a travel package standpoint, India is making up more than 40 percent of the total audience. We estimate to contribute to 20 percent of the Indian travellers that we are bringing into Australia,” said founder and chief business officer Monish Shah.

The sports travel platform from the house of Dream Sports, which also includes brands like fantasy sports platform Dream11 and FanCode, among others, has sold close to 70 percent of its inventory, said the company’s top official.

“We are taking over 1,600 travellers and  are nearing 70 percent of our target and (the remaining) 30 percent we hope will get picked up as we get closer to the tournament and during the tournament itself as the semi-finals and final matches garner interest based on how India performs,”  Shah told Moneycontrol.

He said that they have booked 800 passengers for the India-South Africa match on October 30. “We could have done around 1,400 passengers but then restrictions come in because there is only one airline that flies to Perth. Overall, we will cross 3,000 passengers and we are looking at a healthy revenue from the T20 World Cup.”

Shah said that travel packages for the tournament start from Rs 1.7-1.8 lakh and go up to Rs 2.9 lakh depending on venue, hospitality services (meet-and-greet with players, etc) and the number of days, and added that the second package has done well that has a group size of 100-250 passengers.

Recently, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said that 500,000 tickets have already been sold for the upcoming tournament. Tickets for the India-Pakistan match on October 23 are sold out, the cricket governing body said in a release.

Sports travel bounce back

Shah said that while sports travel took a hit due to COVID-19 in the last two years, the segment is seeing strong rebound. “Sports travel numbers are coming back to 2019 levels. If you look at Australia itself, they are looking at the T20 World Cup to be twice the size from the previous time they had a sporting event in the country. They are looking at 18,000 people who will come to Australia this year (for the tournament). Sports travel has bounced back,” said Shah.

The venues of the matches—the Adelaide Oval, which has a capacity of more than 55,000, the Brisbane Cricket Ground or the Gabba (42,000), Kardinia Park in South Geelong (40,000), Bellerive Oval in Hobart (20,000) and the WACA in Perth (over 61,000) —will operate at 100 percent capacity.

The Sydney Cricket Ground, where the semi-finals will be played and which has a capacity of more than 48,000, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which can seat more than 1 lakh and will host the final, too will operate at full capacity.

It’s not just cricket, other sports also have seen strong traction with Indian travellers. “Wimbledon was a good start. For Formula 1, we had expected revenues in the range of Rs 1-2 crore but we have done six to seven times our expectations. We have sold almost all our inventory for the Rugby World Cup next year” Shah said.

More tie-ups

DreamSetGo is the official travel agent for both Wimbledon and Formula 1. The company also has partnerships with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea football clubs in the English Premier League, along with the Australia Open (tennis) and the Rugby World Cup.

But cricket still is the company’s cash cow. “This year, cricket is the biggest contributor because we are not official agents of FIFA (the international football federation that is holding the World Cup in Qatar from November 20) so the focus is the T20 World Cup. All other sports account for 40 percent of my revenue and 60 percent will come from the T20 World Cup,” said Shah.

He said that a lot of focus is on football which has seen some uncertainties this year.

“Last season for Manchester City was a little bit of an anomaly because most of it got wiped out due to (the) Omicron (wave of the Covid pandemic). By early March, when people were okay with travelling, getting UK visas was difficult. But we managed to send 80 people to Manchester to watch the City games,” said Shah.

He added, “We had huge demand for Chelsea but then we had the entire ownership freeze of Roman Abramovich (former owner of the club) on account of the Russia-Ukraine crisis that led to a ban on selling anything for Chelsea. So that put us behind a little bit. Now we had a group of 40 people going for the Chelsea versus Liverpool game this weekend (September 18). But all travel had to be pushed forward because the games got postponed due to the Queen’s demise.”

The company is looking to play a larger role in the next FIFA World Cup as it said the focus is massive on football.

Reportedly, more than 23,500 Indian fans have bought tickets for the FIFA World Cup. India is expected to be among the highest revenue generators for the event, John Parker, director MATCH Hospitality AG, had told Moneycontrol in an earlier interview. MATCH Hospitality is the official hospitality rights holder for the football tournament.

DreamSetGo is looking at more tie-ups with tournaments. “We are in talks with the French Open (tennis) and we will be tying up with three IPL (Indian Premier League) teams next year. There is also the cricket World Cup in India next year where we want to play a much larger role,” said Shah.