June 17, 2011 / 2:19 PM / 9 years ago

F1 - Indian GP allays ticketing fears

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The inaugural Indian Formula One Grand Prix on Oct. 30 will face none of the ticketing fiascos that have blighted recent major sporting events in the country, the head of ticketing for the race told Reuters on Friday.

Force India Formula One driver Adrian Sutil of Germany drives during qualifying at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne March 27, 2010. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/Files

Organisers of last year’s Delhi Commonwealth Games were left red-faced when empty galleries greeted athletes at most of the venues while fans were turned away from box offices.

Then during the Feb 19-April 2 cricket World Cup, a massive demand-supply gap resulted in the ticket website crashing while police baton-charged ticket-seeking fans outside box offices in Bangalore, Nagpur and Ahmedabad.

A focus on technology and good customer support will ensure the Indian grand prix is not blighted by ticketing problems, said Ashish Hemrajani, founder and chief executive officer of Bigtree Entertainment, the holding company for the race’s official ticketing partner Bookmyshow.com.

“You’d never face that kind of problem here,” Hemrajani told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“That’s really our strength — excellent customer support, a robust system and the focus on technology.

“It’s all about technology. If you know that you are going to get that kind of traffic, you have to learn to manage it. We will ensure anything like that does not happen.

“We do ticketing for events, concerts, plays... In the Indian Premier League (IPL) we do it for Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan.

“Even in IPL, there was tremendous rush but nothing went wrong. We are used to handling it. Our system works seamlessly.”

He said tickets — three-day passes priced between Rupees 3,000 to 50,000 ($67 to $1,112) — will go on sale next month once he gets the go-ahead from race promoters.

With Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan (HRT-Cosworth) on the grid and a team (Force India-Mercedes) bearing the country’s name, Hemrajani expects every ticket to sell.

“This is the first time that it’s being held in the country. There is a lot of media hype around the race,” he said.

“It’s a very attractive price range, pretty encouraging to get people to come to the arena.

“Of course it helps to have Indian drivers and an Indian team out there. If you see the race in Monza, you see so many fans turning up and cheering for Ferrari.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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