JTB competes for more Asian incentives

JTB Corp has embarked on a massive growth plan to expand its global footprint, with a particular focus on growing the Asian outbound incentive market to Japan, Europe and America.

To that end, it is growing organically by opening local sales offices and branches, as well as acquiring established operators the likes of European DMC Tumlare and Singapore-based Tour East. And with the Americas-focused TPI recently launched and a South American partnership coming up in 2016, Africa will be the only continent unreached by JTB.

“JTB receives a lot of business from all over the world. We are now (delivering our) Departing Globally, Arriving Globally slogan,” said Toshihide Ozaki, senior manager, global inbound business at JTB.

While leisure travellers are within its business scope, it is the MICE segment that the global DMC has its sights on.

“The leisure segment is often a severe price competition, whereas MICE customers require local intelligence and planning. We can offer that with our vast network,” said Ozaki, who added that largest growth was recorded in the Asian outbound market to Europe, Hawaii and the US’ West Coast.

Surprisingly, Vietnam has also emerged as a lucrative market, joining the ranks of China and Malaysia as the top three source markets for travellers to the US, said Howard Wang, manager, sales & operation at TPI.

Still, there are challenges ahead, as corporates are allocating smaller budgets for their incentive trips. “Budgets are tight compared to last year. For instance, they are choosing to stay at four-star rather than five-star hotels this year,” explained Wang.

Julia Lai, assistant general manager at Tumlare, added that there had been a 20 per cent price increase – following the currency crisis – for most Asian travellers to Europe, resulting in a proportionate constraint in their incentive budgets.

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