We are often asked for advice on how to promote travel destinations and overseas travel in Japan.
The answer – a long explanation of different approaches to the matter – is here.
First of all, it is important to remember that still about 70% of the Japanese overseas travel is handled by travel agencies. Yes, the number of independent travelers is on the increase but it is still a relatively small portion of the whole.
When you have more or less 70% of the market held by the industry, the logical answer to how to promote your destination is
Yet, there are many variables which render the above answer over-simplified and insufficient.
The questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Are you a new or an established destination in the Japanese market?
- Is the access to your destination easy from a Japanese traveler’s point of view?
- What can you offer: what are the contents of your product?
- What are your target segments?
- Do you want to use your budget efficiently?
- Do you have a representative in Japan?
The answers to the above questions look like “If A, go to X” If B, go to Y”.
We will start with the answers to Question 1 in this article and will follow up with articles on the remaining questions.
Are you a new or an established destination in the Japanese market?
If you are new
New destinations in the Japanese market suffer from lack of recognition both by the general customer and the industry.
Way too often we hear somebody say “We have such a beautiful destination! Why don’t Japanese tourists visit us?”
The answer is:
Because they do not know about your destination. They have little to no idea what is there to see and enjoy. The reason they do not know about the wonderful tourism resources of your country/city/region/village is because such information has not been brought to their attention. By “their” we mean both the travel industry and the general public. You need to raise the awareness of both and in order to do this you need to:
Promote your destination to the travel industry.
Logical as it sounds, it has proved difficult for many new destinations to realize.
Come to meet them, give the travel industry as much information about the tourist attractions, travel infrastructure and travel resources you have as possible. Constant supply of tour-specific information will help tour planners to create packages with content which can attract their customers to your destination.
But how can you meet the industry?
There are several ways to do that.
⇒ Organize a travel trade mission to Japan.
Invite tour operators, hoteliers and tourist attraction managers to join you on a mission to Japan. If you contact us we might be able to help you with disseminating the news about your mission among the members of JATA.
⇒ Organize seminars for Japanese travel companies.
At the seminars you could introduce your destination to the industry and give the above-mentioned specific information to tour planners.
⇒ Organize familiarization tours for travel agents and tour operators. Familiarization tours are the best way to have the industry experience and get a feel of your destination.
⇒ Exhibit at Tourism EXPO Japan.
The EXPO is a place where you can arrange appointments to meet Japanese partners and give them tour-specific information, expand your business network and talk about future partnerships. In 2017 alone, there were 6,800 business meetings over the four days of the event. The organizers plan to increase the number in 2018.
2. Promote your destination to the general public
While, thanks to the advancement in IT technology, you reach the general public from any place in the world, you should bear in mind a very specific feature of Japanese people: In general, they shy away from foreign language sites. If you want to reach them, you need to present your campaign in Japanese.
There are indeed several ways to reach out to the Japanese public:
- Organize press tours for Japanese media. In general, TV programs are still a very good tool for raising awareness. Japanese TV companies have specialized travel programs which
- Use SNS. Young adults and women of different age brackets use SNS. Japanese TV personalities or SNS stars have proved to be trend-setters not only in fashion but in travel, too.
- If you have a representative office in Japan (or a person in charge of tourism promotion at your country’s embassy), organize cultural events, participate in culture festivals representing countries in your region, etc.
- Participate in Tourism EXPO Japan. In 2017, 191, 577 people attended the event over a short four days. The EXPO is your chance to reach directly that part of the general public which comes to the exhibition in search of the next place to visit.
If yours is an established destination
The Japanese travel market is mature. The seniors who will in a couple of years constitute 30% of the Japanese population have the means and time to travel overseas. Those who travel though, are seasoned travelers with many of them with more than 10 overseas tours under their belts. These people are looking for new places to visit as they have already visited the most popular destinations like Paris, London and New York.
If they are so seasoned then they can sure travel alone, you would say.
Well, yes and no. They can certainly travel to easy-to-access places like Paris and London. The problem, though, is that most of them have already been there. So they are looking for new places. And as the new places more often than not are not so easy-to-access on their own (remember, Japanese people shy away from foreign languages), they choose the comfort and relative security which a package tour provides. This is where travel agencies come into the equation. You want to have more Japanese visitors to your country? Work with the Japanese travel industry to find new tourist attractions and destinations. Use the knowledge and experience of the travel agencies to find out what the modern seniors are looking for.
If you realize the importance of this latest point of the article, see above for more information on what to do further.
Last but not least for today is what everybody has been talking about lately
No, we are not trying to mimic the president of the U.S.A.
We do mean that you need to put your community first. Love it. Make it a place good for those who live there. Because the locals are the ones who make a place uniquely different and creates the beautiful contrast between visitors’ everyday routines and the experience they get when visiting that community.
“Good to live and good to visit” is the new basic principle which will help you find the right way to promote your destination and attract the right visitors to it.