Terrie's Take 850 (Tourism Edition) -- Which Country is Biggest Source of Repeat Travelers to Japan?
terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun May 22 22:59:58 JST 2016
* * * * * * * * 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, May 22, 2016, Issue No. 850
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+++ Which Country is Biggest Source of Repeat Travelers to Japan?
Recently I have giving in-house presentations to large domestic
companies trying to get their heads around the inbound travel business,
and how to get some of the action. Typically I am addressing about 20-40
people at a time, either top sales-side management of the corporation,
or their clients. It's been a great opportunity to establish our brand
and gain access to a flow of new clients.
Japanese conglomerate are often slow to react to new external trends,
and the inbound travel boom is no different. Basically the boom started
back in late 2013, when Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics
and at the same time PM Abe and the BOJ's Kuroda were successful in
weakening the yen. But it was only the flood of inbound tourism news on
TV in 2014 that finally woke the big boys up. So in 2015 many of these
firms set about hiring an "inbound manager" or team, and 2016 they
started figuring out strategy. That's where I come in.
In reality my speeches don't include anything my audiences couldn't find
out for themselves. Indeed, I get most of my data from the Japan Tourism
Agency's (JTA) quarterly inbound traveler survey, which is a very
comprehensive questionnaire applied to 9,945 people (the latest being
for Jan-Mar 2016). But what qualifies me to stand up in front of those
people is that I provide a foreigner viewpoint, the so-called "gaijin
mesen" factor that has become a buzzword recently. In the course of
running Japan Travel I've done a lot of Q&A with foreign travelers from
many source countries, and have studied various papers on the motivation
of international travelers. I package this to help my Japanese audience
mentally pigeon hole foreign travelers so that their marketers can
define and service each segment.
Two tools (constructs) that I use often are both well known to Western
university graduates who took Psychology but are largely unknown to the
Japanese. They are Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which readers know I'm a
big fan of, and Geert Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions theory, which uses
big data to assign cultural signatures to nations around the world. I
won't go into Maslow's theory - it's widely quoted, and I applied it to
the travel sector back in TT-824 "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Applied to
-------------- Cycling for Orphans in Tohoku --------------
The Tokyo cycling group, "Knights in White Lycra", will cycle 550 km
from Tokyo to Iwate Prefecture from May 26-29 to raise money to send 20
Japanese children resident in orphanages to summer camps organized by
the Mirai-no-Mori NPO. This is our third year, and the program is
designed to equip the children with life skills and give them ongoing
counseling and support.
To donate to this excellent cause, please visit: http://www.kiwl.net/
For more information on the camps, see: http://mirai-no-mori.jp/?lang=en
If you're not familiar with Hofstede's work, it's pretty interesting.
Like Maslow, Hofstede takes a 10,000 foot view of human nature, and
assigns every country (thus making the first very big assumption that
one country can actually have a single cultural profile - brave man!) a
profile of six characteristics - kind of like a national-level
Myers-Briggs test. Yes, Hofstede's theory has its detractors, but
interestingly it does seem to work. To see for yourself, try the country
comparison tool here, which allows you to see which cultures are most
aligned with Japan (probably S. Korea and Taiwan) and other countries
which are literally the antithesis of Japan (the USA?)...!
This is obviously big brush stroke stuff and doesn't take into account
such important sub-factors as age, socio-economic status, individual
personality, and opportunity. Nonetheless, forearmed with knowledge of
potential cultural conflict zones, you as a business manager can now
have a useful tool to help build new services and products that are
sensitive to these differences.
For example, by seeing that Taiwanese are even less individualistic and
competitive ("masculine" in Hofstede's parlance) than the Japanese,
although they have a similar respect for education and career, one can
understand that Taiwanese generally like to travel in groups of either
friends, families, or workmates, and that this situation probably isn't
going to change anytime soon. So if you want to market to the Taiwanese,
for products/services you need to cater for groups, and for outreach you
need to penetrate their group-based influencers -- such as social media,
bloggers, and family/group travel agents. The image you'd be portraying
is one of locations popular, special experiences, and great deals that
you can share with your friends.
Another element I introduce in my presentations is the "magic" of repeat
travelers. When you have a conservative near-proximity culture like
Taiwan, Hong Kong, or S. Korea, the familiarity that grows with repeat
visits allows these travelers to start branching out from the security
of the big cities and start exploring the countryside. Especially when
they cut the rail travel umbilical cord and discover the pleasures of
self-driving in countryside Japan, they can and do get themselves all
over the country.
So, here is a small test for you. Which countries have the highest ratio
According to the latest JTA survey from Q1, 2016, they were:
HongKong 85% (an amazing figure when you think about it)
S. Korea 40%
Surprised to see China so far down the list? So were we. However, while
repeater ratios are all well and good, what also matters is the sheer
number of those repeaters (see the next list). In this, China comes up
near the top. Unfortunately, a big negative of trying to reach out to
Chinese repeaters is that they are highly diluted across their national
market, and so are much more difficult and expensive to find and
influence. On the other hand, you can see that in terms of real total
numbers, roughly 18% of ALL Hong Kong residents are repeaters to Japan,
making them a lot easier to identify and reach.
Taiwan, All: 3,505,149, Repeaters: 2,870,717
China, All: 4,237,920, Repeaters: 1,835,019
S. Korea, All: 3,519,608, Repeaters: 1,414,882
HongKong, All: 1,480,564, Repeaters: 1,252,557
Thailand, All: 737,943, Repeaters: 477,449
USA, All: 749,393, Repeaters: 439,144
Malaysia, All: 266,805, Repeaters: 165,152
Singapore, All: 272,566, Repeaters: 167,355
Australia, All: 330,677, Repeaters: 162,693
Philippines, All: 212,795, Repeaters: 132,784
Canada, All: 199,834, Repeaters: 112,106
UK, All: 182,213, Repeaters: 104,954
France, All: 154,612, Repeaters: 91,375
Indonesia, All: 164,040, Repeaters: 80,871
I usually wrap up my presentations with who I think are the most
desirable nationalities to target, on the basis of repeaters as a
percentage of their country's population, proximity to Japan for travel
convenience, and cultural factors. I try to help Japanese merchants
understand that if they change their attitudes to "alien cultures" like
people from the individualistic USA, they can make a very good living.
As a very practical example of the "alien gap", I explain that U.S.
travelers generally don't like the overbearing school-teacher approach
taken by Japanese adventure tour guides. Instead, they'd prefer a brief
period of tuition and the ability to make some mistakes before getting
the hang of whatever it is that they are doing - kayaking, sailing,
fishing, cycling, skiing, whitewater rafting - or whatever it might be.
...The information janitors/
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)
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