6th Anniversary At Japan Travel – Firsts In Kansai & Hokuriku

I’m thrilled to celebrate my 6th anniversary at Japan Travel KK! It’s been an incredibly meaningful year, filled with diverse projects, growth, and fun explorations of the events, hospitality & tourism industries. Learn more below, and feel free to contact me anytime if you want to join our team or think that we can help your business/destination!

A Meaningful Year

This year, I worked a lot in Kansai (Kyoto & Osaka) and Hokuriku (Wajima and neighbouring cities), regions far from our Tokyo office. There, I helped diverse countryside/MICE/… stakeholders better attract, satisfy, and benefit from international leisure/business travellers. As Japan’s population ages (10% above 80+ y.o.) and locals lose purchasing power (real wages down 25 consecutive months), I increasingly feel the responsibility of our inbound industries to create genuine value, such as job creation and economic prosperity, rather than just chasing pageviews/likes or quick “overtourism” sales. Consequently, I deeply appreciate these chances to help solve big societal problems.

Practically, this year solidified my preference for a holistic approach to sales and account management. I thrive on seeing the bigger picture, meeting locals, and crafting meaningful solutions with a long-term sustainable/regenerative vision. While I miss the prominence of diversity & inclusivity that I championed in my previous community manager role, I keep my eyes open for related opportunities.

Personally, I loved this multifaceted year for its many exciting first-time tasks: driving a campervan, visiting a cruise ship, promoting beauty shops and a world-famous international choir, writing training manuals for cycling guides, attending investor meetings while guiding… Beyond my official “business development manager” role, I wore many hats including regional development consultant, MICE organiser, and guide for high-net-worth businesspeople. Someone once jokingly compared me to Senju-kannon, a Buddhist god with a thousand arms holding a different tool in each hand to solve myriads of problems 🙂

In the background, the staggering volume of emails (89,000+ in 6 years without counting spam or messages via Slack & LinkedIn) is a constant battle. However, frustration has receded with the organisation of strategic face-to-face and voice meetings in English, French or Japanese.

100% Success Despite A Major Earthquake

I’m proud of the successful completion of all the projects I undertook during my 6th year, especially the video project for Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, the training manuals for Noto cycling guides, and the successful promotion of a “Noh theatre with projection mapping” event that resulted in a great turnout of foreigners according to my client. Big thanks to my dedicated colleagues, sometimes working in harsh conditions e.g. summer heat records. In addition, I’m grateful to my clients for providing valuable feedback that helps have an even stronger impact during subsequent projects. My colleagues and I will keep striving to help generate more lodging/tour bookings, grow concert ticket sales, etc.

While a fearsome M7.6 earthquake temporarily disrupted a project in Noto Peninsula, it also presented a learning experience. I successfully pivoted with the full support of our project manager and creative team, and we now wait to see the fruits of this project boost local economic recovery.

Looking Ahead

Year 7, a lucky number in Japan, brings renewed hope. I’m eager to tackle projects on hold and leverage the exchange rate and inbound trends to maximise our impact. The relative lack of nationwide discussions and promotion projects surrounding the upcoming 2025 World Expo remains a surprise, but Japan Travel KK and its partners are well-positioned to capitalise on this major event. Standing out in Asia, the 2024 Global Convention of IGLTA (LGBTQ+ travel pros) in Osaka is another unique opportunity to generate awareness/collaborations for our company & clients.

Besides, I’m excited for the near future, which includes the growth of our travel section, a 300-businesspeople event we organise in Kyoto, tours for vegan VIPs and spiritual French that I’ll guide, luxury consulting in west Japan and near Mount Fuji, and reels creation about Kaga-onsen’s unique hot spring (sub)culture! And where some worry or even feel disgusted about overtourism, I see instead fixable mismanaged tourism that needs to be discussed; opportunities for different districts or off-the-beaten-track spots, opportunities for low- and shoulder-season travel, opportunities for special interests and MICE for example.

Finally, I joyfully saw one of my clients receive a national award for tourism this year 🎉 I look forward to more recognition of my clients’ products/branding.

Arigato Gozaimashita!

While I lacked time for hiking and language study, I enjoyed unforgettable experiences. The team camaraderie during our campervan video trip stands out, the Nafune-taisai night festival in Wajima, Yuranza’s artistic performance (in my Top 3 in Japan so far) during a temple stay, and encounters with elders in a disappearing village in Minobu left a lasting impression. Also, Japan’s gorgeous nature blessed us with soundtracks during countless experiences.

Special thanks to my Japan Travel colleagues Kaname & Maria for their support when calendars clashed, and to the Metropolis Magazine team, my bosses, and even investors I guided – their understanding has been instrumental in my learning!

For comments by professionals, read the comments of my dedicated post on LinkedIn.