Fast, faster, fastest…..The countdown to the first Indian Grand Prix has begun, promising to give Delhi a 300 kmph rush of adrenaline. With all roads leading to the F1 track, and corporates jumping on the bandwagon as well, the parallels to last October's Commonwealth Games have begun. Will hotels cash in on the hype this time round?

“The hotel industry does not have larger inventory, especially in and around Noida. Although the draw has not been as huge as Commonwealth, hotel bookings in Delhi have been up 15 per cent in October over the year-ago period,” says Mr Ankur Bhatia, owner of Bird Group.

“Mumbai-Delhi flights are all booked out and the air fares have doubled. Indians have a tendency to take travelling decision at the last moment so the airlines are encashing on that. Hotels, inns and lodges in and around the area are also booked, at double the usual cost,” said Mr Iqbal Mulla, President, Travel Agent Association of India.

The Claridges, Surajkund, which is also the official venue partner with Amber Lounge, the official after party host for F1, says it is full up the last ten days of October.

“Although the F1 scale does not match up to the CWG, we have seen revenue jump of almost 16 per cent vis-a-vis last October,” says Mr Oliver C Martin, General Manager, The Claridges, Surajkund.

Cox & Kings, which has been offering domestic F1 deals ranging from Rs 22,000 to Rs 44,000, says it has sold over 1,000 packages, despite the niche-elitist nature of the game.

“The bulk of demand is coming from Mumbai and Bangalore,” says a Cox & Kings spokesperson. SOTC also reports a similar trend.

“Ninety per cent of the draw towards the game is domestic, with Delhi-NCR topping the chart for ticket sales,” says Mr Ashish Hemrajani, founder and CEO, BookMyShow, the ticketing partner for F-1.

Youth are the biggest buyers, but corporates, too, are said to be buying in bulk as an incentive for their employees.

Flying high on F1

Logistics players are riding the F1 business. There are gains for Delhi International Airport (Private) Ltd. From October 19 to 21, DIAL handled nearly 501 tonnes of F1 cargo.

“Top participants in the race like Ferrari, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Red Bull and so on, have already sent their racing cars. These cars and equipment will start leaving for Abu Dhabi from November 1,” a DIAL spokesperson said. An industry source says F1 could result in aviation revenue of nearly Rs 53 lakh for India, with more than 50 per cent accounted by cargo and around 30 per cent by passenger segment.

Spirited cup

Liquor firms are sipping the F1 bubbly spirit as well. “Close to one lakh spectators will be attending the F1 race. This event along with Diwali and the wedding season would definitely prop up sales of liquor,” says Mr Devain Narang, former President of All India Distillers Association, though he doesn't quantify the spike.

Of the 13 food and beverages vending points at Buddh, only four will offer beer. Kingfisher is the official beer partner for the event.

“We expect to cater to close to 50,000 customers. Our intensity of serving has to be high because it is only a two-hour race.

“We will also be official beer supplier to all the F1 after-parties as well and there are hundreds of these happening,” says Mr Samar Singh Shekhawat, Senior Vice-President, Marketing, United Breweries.

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