Terrie's Take 937 (Tourism Edition) - As East Asia Peaks, Europe is Japan's Next Inbound Travel Frontier

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Mar 26 00:40:53 JST 2018

* * * * * * * * 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, Mar 25, 2018, Issue No. 937

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+++ As East Asia Peaks, Europe is Japan's Next Inbound Travel Frontier

It's been a crazy last 4 weeks, as I have joined hordes of other travel 
industry people in attending shows and seminars in both the southern 
then northern hemispheres. The biggest of these was the massive ITB show 
in Berlin. To be honest, before Heartland's Keijiro Sawano came to me 
for help with promoting his countryside hiking tours overseas, I'd been 
more than a tad skeptical about attending travel trade shows. My view 
has been that trade shows represent a dying era for a dying breed.

http://bit.ly/2G3r5QM [Sawano's Heartland Japan hiking website]

Essentially trade shows are a "love-in" of executives from bricks and 
mortar travel agencies and their suppliers, who shoot the breeze in an 
overpriced, over crowded booth. This, when a Skype or Zoom call could 
achieve the same thing. OK, yes, I realize that many cultures including 
the Japanese, value face-to-face "feel-good" meetings, but having to 
travel 9,000km to do this seems highly inefficient, especially when both 
parties separate by telling each other they will follow up with each 
other by email anyway...!

But now, with ITB at least, I'm now a convert. It's a great show, and 
I'll be there again next year.

For a start, ITB is just huge. This year there were more than 7,300 
exhibitors spread across 26 halls, taking up the entire Berlin Messe 
site. Going to an event like this reminds you just how big the world 
really is, with each of the halls featuring a region, where neighboring 
national tourism bureaus competed to out-do each other in getting the 
attention of trade attendees in the first 3 days, then the German public 
in the last 2 days. The Germans, btw, are in the top 10 most traveled 
nations in the world, and No. 3 for spending on holidays abroad - about 
US$81bn last year.

Being a premier trade show, many countries, even small ones like the 
Maldives, were going all out to get attention. They had huge screens, 
lavish videos and print media, wandering minstrels and dancers inviting 
people to come see them, gifts and food, and of course some over-the-top 
centerpiece installation or temporary building to knit the whole thing 
together. Australia's booth was particularly large, had a clean, 
sophisticated design, and was jammed with people doing meetings.

[Continued below...]

--------- From Veggie Burgers to Carrot Cake --------------

Our commitment at Alishan Organics is to give our customers the best of 
western organic foods, but prepared with a Japanese twist. That's why 
our menus cover such a broad range of styles and tastes. If you're just 
getting to know us, why not visit our cafe by the river in Saitama? That 
way you can try out a variety of dishes and decide for yourself. Choose 
from an Amy's organic pizza straight from the oven, a mouthwatering 
veggie burger packed with seasonal greens and reds, or if you're feeling 
chilly, a filling vegetable curry with rice. And although we're healthy 
minded, we don't skimp on desserts. Favorites include Jack's scrumptious 
carrot cake, vegan brownies (of course with vegan icecream), and baked 
banana cheese cake.

Our Cafe: http://bit.ly/2m0r8z7
Our new online store: http://bit.ly/2v8gRpi

In contrast, and as you would probably expect, the Japanese booth was 
small and disappointingly budget-minded. Yes, it did have a unifying 
design theme, managing to look like a mid-priced Shimbashi sushi hall, 
but the 30+ booths that each of the participating companies paid 
JPY400,000 for were tiny and really basic. Maybe this didn't matter, 
because Japan is hot and visitors sought out the destination by 
themselves. Further, in drawing the crowds to their own booths, the 
Chinese and Mongolian minstrels were also bringing foot traffic right 
past the Japanese island, which had the best position on Hall 26. Not 
sure if the placing of Asia in the last and most distant hall was 
deliberate, but as I say, it didn't matter anyway. The place was happily 

Oh, and the Singaporean noodle joint around the corner smelled great and 
had long lines outside - many of whom sauntered by after eating.

The reason why I was converted by the ITB show wasn't the sheer size of 
the place. Over the last 5 years I've been to other trade shows, and 
even with your potential clients right in front of you, there isn't much 
you can do to force them to buy your stuff if they are not interested in 
it. And until the last year or so, there have been very few people in 
Europe who have been interested in offering Japan to their customer base.

But all that is now changing with a vengeance, and of the 20+ major 
European travel agencies that I personally went to visit at ITB, 
probably 15 of them said they wanted to be in Japan, soon. Indeed, 
before I'd returned to Tokyo I already had 5 of them sending emails to 
get more information. This is exciting stuff and it's not often in life 
that you're in the right place (Japan) at the right time (extension of 
the inbound travel boom from just East Asia/Oceania, to now include the 
rest of the world).

It's taken 3 years of the current Inbound boom for European travel 
agents to wake up about Japan. Going to ITB it's easy to see why. There 
are so many other countries with wonderfully preserved history, 
scrumptious food, and tourist-friendly economies. And importantly, they 
are much easier and cheaper to get to. So I still find it amazing that 
Japan is gaining so much traction. My guess is that it is because of the 
combination of the rapid spread of Japanese cuisine around Europe, as 
people start getting smarter about healthy diets, along with the highly 
inspirational 2016 TV travel documentary series by Joanna Lumley, which 
offered many Europeans their first look behind the bamboo curtain.

http://bit.ly/2I3pLKm [Watch the first of Joanna Lumley's programs here. 
About 45 minutes.]

Many in the travel industry in 2018 are convinced that the East Asian 
boom to Japan is now peaking, and to see further increases, we need to 
appeal to repeat travelers, who need a lot more "content" and local 
experiences. Providing such content will take sheer hard work, 
significant new investment in facilities and attractions, and dealing 
with intense competition. So it is exciting to see the sleeping travel 
giants of the world: Europe, the Middle East, and India in particular, 
waking up and wanting to discover Japan for themselves. Based on the 
discussions I had with leading travel agencies and airlines, I expect 
the volume of upper middle-income first-timer travelers from Europe to 
surge significantly over the next 3-5 years, the Rugby World Cup and 
Olympics notwithstanding.

The challenge for us now, is to find German and French-speaking staff to 
look after all the inquiries - a good problem to have!

Two weeks ago, I announced that www.japantravel.bike had launched and 
that readers and their overseas guests could now buy JPY1,500 day passes 
for the bikes with a short credit card interaction. A number of readers 
visited the site, and gave me feedback that all they could see was a 
service subscription form - so what about a description of the service 
itself? Oh, right, small oversight there... as we basked in the glory of 
getting the app to work really well, we overlooked the need to explain 
to people what they would actually be buying! I'm happy to say that the 
"About" link is now fixed and shows pages explaining the service and how 
it works. Over the next few weeks there will be a bunch of visual 
improvements to the site, and more functionality (helmets, pre-bookings, 
insurance, etc.). But the most important thing is that you can use the 
bikes now.

http://bit.ly/2I2H9yK [japantravel.bike page]

...The information janitors/


---------- Bilingual vet clinic opens in Azabu ------------

PetLife Veterinary Clinic is opening its doors in central Tokyo from 
March, providing bilingual (Japanese/English) services for both the 
domestic and international communities. The clinic provides experienced 
veterinarians with many years of experience serving families and their 
pets using the latest technology. They have a compassionate and welcome 
approach and aim to nurture close bonds within the local community.

The official opening is March 6, however a three-day open clinic event 
will be held Mar 2 - 4 including a special day for international 
residents Mar 3. Pet owners are welcome to come visit and check out the 
new center.

1F. Daiichi Bldg., 2-3-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044. 
TEL:03-6807-4058 Website: http://petlife.co.jp/en/


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

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