Terrie's Take 824 (Tourism Edition) -- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Applied to Tourist Types

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Oct 19 01:31:33 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, Oct 18, 2015, Issue No. 824

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at: 

http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take, or, 

+++ Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Applied to Tourist Types

Earlier this week I traveled to Kochi city in Kochi Prefecture 
(Shikoku), to participate in a seminar designed to help Kochi 
Prefectural tourism-related officials understand what might bring more 
foreign travelers there. Kochi, like many other somewhat remote 
locations in Japan, is being substantially bypassed by the hordes of 
foreign tourists swamping hotels and other facilities of larger cities 
and smaller ones lucky enough to own famous landmarks.

Other cities/prefectures which fall into the same category as Kochi 
would be Miyazaki, Tottori, Akita, and Aomori. They all suffer from the 
same basic disadvantages, being small population, lack of strongly 
identifiable tourist attractions (either historical or purpose-made), 
and they are essentially rest-stops on the way to somewhere more 
desirable and popular. And yet, Kochi is not so different to Matsuyama 
city just 120km to the west, so what makes it so much less successful at 
attracting foreign tourists?

In preparing my presentation for the Kochi tourism team, I decided to 
focus on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and used this construct to show 
where Kochi should be focusing to find its visitors, and furthermore, 
what messaging to use to pull them in. For those of you who studied 
Maslow at high school or university, you'll know that according to 
Maslow there are classically 5 levels of human psychological needs, each 
of which needs to be satisfied before people move up to the next level. 
You can remind yourself what the hierarchy looks like, here:


I personally don't subscribe the up-down nature of the hierarchy, in 
that hungry or physically threatened people can still think and take 
action for someone they love or esteem, but I do believe in the basic 
model of layers of behavior and personally use this insight in my 
everyday life -- from probing and intuitively knowing what to say to a 
new client, through to negotiating with my teenage daughters about 
spending money... :-)

[Continued below...]

-------------- APPI Snow Sculpture Project ----------------

Help us create a memorable snow sculpture at the APPI Resort.

Appi Kogen is a well-known ski and holiday resort located in Iwate 
Prefecture. The snow sculpture project was launched by passionate locals 
who want to promote Appi Kogen as the greatest ski resort in Japan. The 
idea is that the APPI team will make a build-to-order snow statue, using 
Appi high quality snow, and have the statue welcome skiers and 
snowboarders from all over the world!

Post us your idea for our APPI snow sculpture and win great gifts from 
APPI! Yes, that's right, we are soliciting the best snow statue ideas, 
and will take the one with the most requests to produce a memorable and 
hopefully soon-to-be-famous snow sculpture.

Please read the instructions on the website, and post your idea via the 
online application form. A pool of 12 prize winners will be selected in 
a drawing from all those who apply. The winners will receive hotel 
vouchers, lift tickets, and local specialties from APPI!

For more details please visit http://goo.gl/Pw4fDm

Within the context of tourism, I suggested to the Kochi team that Maslow 
would put the Low-cost Carrier (LCC) customers such as backpackers at 
the bottom of the hierarchy, because they are largely motivated by 
physiological factors (i.e., money and access limitations), and one 
thing I quickly found traveling to Kochi is that it is NOT cheap to get 
there. No LCCs, no direct rail link, and no Willer bus means that ANA 
and JAL can hold Kochi-bound travelers hostage, and they sure do. 
JPY32,000 return is about the cheapest air connection.

Next level up, in Maslow's "safety" category, would be first-timer Japan 
visitors, who are looking for "guaranteed" experiences. Going to Tokyo, 
Osaka, Kyoto is definitely a safe bet, and I wouldn't try to deter these 
folks from having that experience. At very least, this may give them an 
appetite to return and experience more, which would bring them into the 
"love/belonging" category -- i.e., they become repeaters. Kochi is a 
great place to go see, but it can't compare with the size of Tokyo, 
energy of Osaka, and atmosphere of Kyoto, so I recommended Kochi drop 
first-timers as a target.

So that brings us to Maslow's "love/belonging" category. I'm sure that 
most readers know by now that it is not unusual for visitors from HK, 
Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand, to visit Japan 3-6 times a year. 
Indeed, 86% of all inbound travelers from HK have been to Japan at least 
once, and it is these people who are looking to experience variety or a 
special place that makes them feel comfortable. Perhaps surprisingly, 
not all these Repeaters are FIT (Free Independent Travelers), in that 
they often prefer to travel in groups and to request package tours from 
their travel agents. But regardless of who they travel with, once they 
find somewhere they can call their own, they like to keep going back 
there. Fukuoka is a good example, and recently foreigner ownership of 
apartments has risen significantly. So certainly I suggested to Kochi 
that they should be looking at Repeaters as a target group.

Above Repeaters, the next category of Maslow's hierarchy are "esteem" 
related travelers. These are people who are well informed and who are 
motivated to travel to places that they actually KNOW are unique or are 
of high value personally. These people are frequently influencers in 
their communities and they know their opinion counts. So the "esteem" 
works in both directions - both on the original travelers looking to 
maintain their connoisseur reputations and on their fans who follow later.

On the internet the influencers are likely to be power bloggers highly 
familiar with Japan, while on other media they are probably TV 
personalities, actors, sports stars, and well-known business figures. 
When you give these powerful influencers an experience they can't 
forget, whether a beautiful scene, single delicious dish, or a unique 
activity, they pass it to their network of tens of thousands and thus 
create curiosity, desire, and of course inbound traffic. The question of 
course just what would that experience need to be?

At the top of Maslow's hierarchy is a group of people I never really 
understood, at least not in the classic sense. The general explanation 
is that "self-actualized" people act purely outside of self, that is, 
they are selfless and altruistic -- so it's not really a concept that 
works in a commercial context and I usually ignore this category. 
However, within the travel world, one could possibly apply the term to 
insanely rich people who travel simply for the pleasure of traveling, 
not because of some other externally-induced need. I used to think that 
egalitarian Japan wouldn't draw many of the super-rich. However, in 
recent months as I have discovered more about the luxury travel sector, 
it turns out that Japan is fast becoming popular as an exotic 
destination where any whim can be satisfied. More about this sector in a 
later post.

So for Kochi, my recommendation was to focus on repeaters and 
esteem-driven opinion leaders and their fans, which means that the 
prefecture needs to create something more than what it is offering 
currently. A quick visit to their website shows the main attractions are:
* The Kochi castle, yes undeniably beautiful, but still it's just one of 
12 original castles in Japan and others are more convenient to get to.
* The 15 of the 88 Henro pilgrimage temples in Shikoku that it hosts, 
which isn't even a quarter of the total and to travel the trail you need 
to be ready for two months of sweat, bad weather, and isolation.
* The week-long Yosakoi street dancing festival, which again is 
excellent and draws innovative dancing teams in from all over Japan, but 
which causes the city to become so packed that simply being there can 
get uncomfortable.

Yeah, so Kochi has at least three good things, but none of them are 
particularly outstanding drawing cards for foreigners.

So it's clear to me that Kochi and destinations like it need to 
"manufacture" a drawing card, and develop it to the extent that it 
becomes world famous. This is not so easy to do, because not only does 
it require clear vision and leadership, but also the guts to plunk down 
a lot of money for something that isn't proven and which is going to 
have to satisfy the needs of foreign visitors not just Japanese ones. 
For example, installing a new water park or huge Ferris wheel is not 
going to pull thousands of visitors from HK or Singapore, where they 
already have world-class attractions, and where there is more concrete 
and steel than they can shake a stick at. Rather, the drawing card needs 
to focus on those things our Asian neighbors don't have, such as 
untouched nature (yes, Kochi still has some) and genuine food, products, 
and services.

In the end, my personal suggestion to the Kochi team was that they 
should turn turn Kochi Prefecture into a regional center for school and 
university groups looking for nature-related experiences. They do do 
this to a small degree already, with well-designed kayaking tours, 
plenty of boating and diving, and hiking trails everywhere. But none of 
these things are much good to foreigners if they don't know about them, 
so documenting and marketing online are obvious areas for improvement. 
Further, rather than just providing random experiences as they do now, 
these activities need to be packaged and become a focus for the local 
tourism industry, so that visitors get an intense and uniform experience 
that will delight them -- much like a theme park but without the ticket 
gates. This effort will need centralized management and coordination, 
especially if the target is to bring in thousands of new foreign 
visitors a year.

Before going to Kochi, I'd heard that depopulation was causing townships 
across the prefecture to shut down schools and I was told about one 
particular school up the Shimanto river that had been converted into a 
lodging facility, but not many people were using it yet. So I suggested 
turning it and other schools into boarding centers for 4-week summer 
break "nature adventure" experiences for foreign kids and their 
families. Throw in English-speaking tutors, and you'd have a regional, 
cheaper, and much safer alternative for Chinese kids (for example) 
instead of sending them to summer school in the USA or Europe. Actually, 
this kind of facility would be hugely appealing to Japanese families as 

You can get the picture. If Kochi applied itself to targeted marketing, 
proper packaging, and appropriate pricing, it could attract 100-150 kids 
a time flying in on charter flights from Shanghai, HK, and Singapore. 
Charters would mean that there would be few significant costs unless 
there was real demand. Further, these kinds of sales wouldn't be made 
individually, but rather they would happen on a trust-and-repeat basis 
with education authorities in each target country. So while the kids 
themselves may not be repeaters, certainly their schools would be.

Then, as those kids graduated and started to travel independently, I'd 
like to think that more than a few of them would want to revisit the 
fields of their youthful Kochi summer stays, bringing friends and family 
with them to relive the experience. You can already see this development 
of long-lasting emotional ties and affection for certain parts of Japan 
within some sectors of repeat travelers, such as Taiwanese older group 
travelers, who particularly seem to like western Japan, and by Korean 
repeaters who seem to like Kyushu and Hokkaido.

...The information janitors/


SUBSCRIBERS: 6,831 members as of October 18, 2015
(We purge our list regularly.)
Terrie mailing list
Terrie at mailman.japaninc.com

More information about the Terrie mailing list