Pandemic spurs Japan tourism players to innovate

Japan’s tourism sellers are adapting their marketiang strategies and boosting customer care to court visitors as the country starts to reopen for travel.

Activities range from moving products online to introducing deals and greater flexibility in bookings.

True Japan Tours has pushed out a series of online experiences, including an origami and furoshiki cloth wrapping workshop taught by a licensed instructor (above)

Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo has launched The Boutique, a website selling food, beauty products, bedding and other luxury items from the brand. The campaign is designed to keep the hotel front of mind until customers feel ready to book again.

“Our services bring a flavour of the Shangri-La Tokyo to customers at home, as ‘home time’ continues in Japan,” said Chieko Tashiro, its director of communications, adding that they will “help Shangri-La Tokyo to be the hotel of choice, even a year after the return to normal life in Japan.”

True Japan Tours has also moved online to offer virtual workshops, tours and cultural experiences, following the suspension of its country-wide tours for FIT, groups and MICE over Covid-19 fears. Delivered via Zoom, its sushi-making workshop is 1,750 yen (US$16), while its origami session costs 1,125 yen.

Also thinking longer-term is InsideJapan Tours, which sends its contacts its Stay Inside Japan newsletter, packed with interesting titbits about Japan. Harry Sargant, the company’s marketing manager for Australia, said the newsletter keeps clients “informed and entertained.”

The company is also conducting surveys to gauge customer sentiment on travel and assess when and how it should re-promote its offerings.

“We want to get a sense of the marketplace, to understand what expectations of customers would be and what reassurances they need (to) get bookings over the line,” he told TTG Asia.

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is among hotels tempting customers with offers. Under its campaign, Blooming Tokyo 2021, visitors can stay at its leafy surrounds until August 31, 2021 at 35 per cent off, if reservations are made 90 days in advance by June 30, 2021.

Park Hotel Tokyo, meanwhile, has changed its cancellation policy to provide “maximum flexibility”. Any individual reservations booked through June 30, 2020 can be cancelled at no charge, one day prior to the scheduled arrival day.

Elsewhere, Okuka Nikko Hotels has launched J-Smart Advance, allowing guests to receive mileage credit on their JMB/JAL Card during check-in.

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