Terrie's Take 806 (Tourism Edition) -- Opening Minds with Travel Internships

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun May 31 23:55:15 JST 2015

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S (TOURISM) TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A bi-weekly focused look at the tourism sector in Japan, by Terrie 
Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

Tourism Sector Edition Sunday, June 01, 2015, Issue No. 806

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+++ Opening Minds with Travel Internships

This year marks the third year of Japan Travel's travel journalism 
internship program. Over the last three years we have been bringing 
mostly young people in their 20's to Japan for 4-6 weeks, and assigning 
them to write stories on their experiences all over the country. In 2013 
when we started, we had about 130 applicants and we chose 35 people. 
Word-of-mouth has increased interest tremendously and in 2014 there were 
about 650 applicants, and this year around 1,200 applicants. Clearly 
there are lots of young journalists who love Japan and want to 
experience it for themselves.

Now that applications for the 2016 year are about to start, I thought 
this would be a good time to explain what we are trying to do with the 
program and some of the things that we have learned along the way. If 
you know anyone between the ages of 18-35 (and with some exceptions, 
over this age), then please send them to www.japantravel.com/interning. 
We'd love to hear from them.

I came up with the interning idea in 2012, because it seemed a great way 
of re-engaging young foreigners with the idea of coming to Japan. Keep 
in mind that back then, we were all still very focused on radiation and 
how to control damage to the inbound tourism sector. The 2020 Olympics 
bid and Abe's massive devaluation of the yen hadn't happened yet. My 
main objective was to try to have these kids discover Japan through 
their own eyes and camera lenses, and tell the world what they found. 
Hopefully it would be something good.

If 30-35 interns in the first season sounded ambitious, it was, but the 
reason was because I wanted to be able to cover all of Japan in a single 
season and thus provide the coverage that you would expect from a 
Wiki-type resource. I also wanted to find out whether we could really 
pull it off. We quickly learned that by staging the arrivals in waves we 
could have a very manageable 5-6 people at any one time and reduce the 
chances of multiple simultaneous emergencies. In truth, most of the 
credit for the first season's success must go to a plucky French 
university student named Alice Odoux, who took everything in her stride, 
helped create a system, and ran the program for a full 6 months. Alice, 
by-the-way, went back to France to graduate, then returned to Tokyo and 
is now working in a prestigious recruiting firm here.

[Continued below...]

--------- Help Us Test New No-Network Maps App ------------

Japan Travel is getting ready to launch its first iPhone app, which will 
be a No-Network mapping tool. The tool lets foreign tourists use their 
smart phones to prepare Google-like maps and find their way around Japan 
without having a local network connection. Testing will require you to
download the application (you will need an iPhone) and to use it next 
time you go out for a walk. Estimated test time and reporting back any 
bugs will be about 30 minutes. For testers who are pre-registered on 
www.japantravel.com, you will be paid 500 points after you report back 
in from the test. We are hoping to have about 100 people test the 
application, so please help us if you can.

To register as a tester, send an email to info at metroworks.co.jp. To 
register for Japan Travel, go to: http://en.japantravel.com/join

We also had a lot of concerns about the quality of the interns. Would 
their reportage output be good enough? Would they themselves be 
manageable? Yes, it is true that in our first year we had some 
challenges with several of the participants, who just didn't get it that 
there was a trade in their receiving 6 weeks of accommodation and 
transport in return for regular trip reports. But luckily most of the 
participants made honest efforts, and indeed, some of the output was 
extraordinary. My personal favorite that year was a story about a visit 
to a tattoo parlor by Perri Silverstein. Not only did she find a great 
store to go view the art and process, she got a tattoo done and had a 
photo taken of it... Talk about dedication!

Her story and photos are here: http://bit.ly/1crBz8w

Building on 2013, the following year we spent a lot more time 
interviewing, and talked to many more people (four times as many), so 
the overall quality of the participants increased accordingly. This 
year, in 2015, we have had a shift away from purely 3rd and 4th year 
university journalism students, who were our original target, to fresh 
grads and more experienced freelancers. In fact, because of this, we are 
thinking of dropping the moniker "intern" for those sufficiently 
qualified and refer to them in their proper capacity as journalists. 
Over a thousand applicants -- remembering that the core requirement is 
journalism -- means that the current intake now includes freelance 
writers for CNN, Huffington Post, and other well-known publications.

The Internet always amazes me, and it's pretty awesome to be getting 
more than one thousand journalists and journalism students worldwide 
applying for this little program here in Japan.

In 2013 Japan Travel's main language was English as our platform relies 
on crowd-sourced translations and English is the easiest pairing for 
most non-Japanese translating into their native languages. This is where 
Japan Travel has so much advantage over better funded Japanese media 
firms trying to get into the inbound "travel wiki" space. There just 
aren't that many Japanese-to-other-language translators out there and so 
getting content into other languages is expensive. As an example, last I 
looked, we had about 400 people translating from English to Thai. 
Further, now that the program is 3 years old, we're getting adventurous 
and are bringing in native speakers for some of the other nine languages 
we support on the site -- for example, we're hoping to see 1-2 native 
Arabic speakers.

So what do interns get when they join the program? For starters, if 
they're lucky and live in a country with an airline looking to promote 
travel to Japan, they can receive free airline tickets. Currently we 
have both Thai Airways and Hong Kong Express kindly participating in the 
program and others making decisions for 2016. Other nationals get here 
under their own steam. We then provide them with accommodation and 
transport, communications tools (modems or phones, etc.), an office to 
work in until they hit the road, direction from the Editorial team, and 
ongoing check-ins and support from Tokyo.

Doing an internship and being asked to report in an in-depth and 
objective manner on another culture opens up up a whole new realm of 
personal awareness for many participants. I'll never forget one very 
quiet and nervous 20-year old girl from Indonesia, named Saras, who had 
never traveled alone before. Her family were so concerned about her 
great adventure to Japan that her Dad called me up and begged me to 
protect his daughter from misfortune. While I assured him that Japan was 
one of the safest places in the world, I was wondering at the same time 
whether she'd last the distance.

It turned out that I didn't need to worry. She herself had applied for 
the internship knowing that she wanted a personal growth experience. So 
sometime around the half-way mark, she started to "click" and you could 
see a noticeable improvement in her writing and demeanor. In the end she 
stayed on for two whole months, traveling all over the country. After 
seeing her transformation I didn't pay much mind to those early concerns 
and eventually it was time for her to return home to Jakarta. Then fast 
forward to a year and a half later, and while on business in Jakarta I 
met with her and a group of others, and she shared with us just how much 
the experience had changed her life. I have to say that if you met her 
now, you wouldn't connect this self-confident young woman with the timid 
person I first met. It is really wonderful to see this level of personal 
change, and is a huge motivator for myself and the rest of the team to 
keep the program going.

A story by Saras about the Imperial Palace: http://bit.ly/1HE4L54

...The information janitors/

------------------ ICA Event - June 22nd-------------------

Speaker: Pieter Franken - Chief Technology Officer, Monex Global Vision
Title: "How has Open Source technology helped my Organization"

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Monday, June 22nd, 2015
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and Cash Bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No sign 
ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: By 5pm on Thursday 18th June 2015. Venue is The Foreign 
Correspondents' Club of Japan

SUBSCRIBERS: 6,951 members as of June 01, 2015. (We purge our list 


Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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