May 25, 2010

Tailor made solutions

FIFA has downgraded its original estimate on how many Africans from outside South Africa will be buying tickets to next month’s World Cup tournament by 77 percent, to 11,300. Someone finally woke up and smelled the stink of reality – having an internet based ticket sales system was not the right fit for South Africa and Africa!

This shouldn’t be news to anyone least of all the organisers of the tournament. Were they completely clueless about the fact that credit card use and internet access aren’t as widespread in Africa as they are in the Europe and the U.S.? Or perhaps they did and that segment of football fans wasn’t the intended audience for the tournament.

In a course correcting measure, SA ticket prices were dropped – the cheapest would be $18 and the highest $71, and over the counter sales were introduced in May. Thousands stood in line and 230,000 tickets have been sold since then. But why did it take FIFA and the SA organizing committee until 2 months before kickoff to come to this solution?

There are obviously other reasons that account for the poor tickets sales in other countries such as the cost of travel and accommodations but I believe the over-arching one is the availability of tickets. If they had employed over the counter sales in other African countries when tickets were first made available the story would likely read differently. More would have been sold, and resourceful fans and organisations would be pooling together to get motorcoaches hired to ferry ticket holders to the tournament.

But instead they looked stood behind their original plan, and failed to tailor make one for the unique environment in which they were working.

So, the underlying lesson for FIFA is this: understand the environment in which you’re working, and come up with the best solutions based on the real need and challenges; the solutions should not based solely on what is the most convenient for FIFA.

Gosh, where have I heard similar advice being given? 

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