Bahrain F1's gift packages for Gulf
The Bahrain Int'l Circuit is introducing gifts from $93 to $239 at Hallmark to put the recipient behind the wheel and on the track of the desert circuit.Updated: Sep 09, 2007, 17:42 IST
Bahrain's Formula One circuit - the first in the Middle East to host a Grand Prix - is making a bid for a larger share of the Gulf's growing motor sports business with a new marketing plan.
The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) located outside the capital Manama, is making the move as competition from neighbouring Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) heats up.
BIC is introducing gift packages ranging in price from $93 to $239 at name-brand stores like Hallmark to put the recipient behind the wheel and on the track of the new desert circuit.
The company is targetting Gulf residents who could fly in for the day or make other transport and hotel arrangements that are not included in the package.
The $93 package offers several hours on a motorcycle or four-wheeler, with an instructor. The $212 package offers use of a sport car and about six hours with an instructor. The most expensive package - $239 - offers all-day access with an instructor.
The packages offer the drivers the choice to either test their own car or bike on the BIC track or test drive the circuit Hummer 4x4 car, the Caterham, or the Chevrolet Skid car.
The packages also offer an opportunity to test the Quad Bike and off-track vehicles.
The gift packages have already started selling in Bahrain, and will expand to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman in the coming two weeks, disclosed BIC commercial director Steven Umfreville.
"We are selling them in Bahrain via various retailers including Hallmark, which is a good one for us, because this where you go to buy someone a gift," Umfreville told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
"We are also trying other retailers, among them Toys 'R' Us, to see if there is a suitable market," he said.
Umfreville said he was expecting the packages to go on sale regionally first in Dubai before being introduced in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the Gulf states.
Sales in the UAE are expected to initially include the giant retailer Virgin Mega Store.
Umfreville, who would not disclose how much the new venture is costing BIC, said he was expecting it to be profitable within a year.
"We already run these activities and the product has been in the market for nearly a year, but the gift packs are an extension of it," he added.
BIC director of governmental affairs and public relations, Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa, said future plans also include attracting female and corporate customers through specifically tailored packages.
Sheikh Salman said the current packages were expected to see seasonal demand highs during holidays as well as birthdays and anniversaries.
"We are also looking at several options to improve the on- and off-track activities to expand these products," he said.
Sheikh Salman said the BIC would help attract critical direct and indirect investments to the small Gulf island, by placing it in the spotlight of a sport that has hundreds of millions of fans.
The BIC, which cost around $150 million to construct, was opened in 2004 and was the first home for an F1 race in the Middle East.
It turned profitable within less than three years of opening. The venue is also used for GP2, drag racing, and one of the Australian V8 Supercar stages.
Sheikh Salman and Umfreville said the expected opening of new race tracks in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi - which will host the Formula One race in 2009 - is viewed as an opportunity and not a challenge.
"It will open up my product to a greater range of people and I expect a bigger growth year on year," Umfreville said.
Sheikh Salman, who said that the BIC was already working with their Saudi and UAE counterparts to help with their plans to open the new tracks there, pointed out that promoting the sport would help make it more profitable.