Unravelling the mystery of Japanese luxury travel

Unravelling the mystery of Japanese luxury travel

In January 2011, a new travel exhibition is being launched to target Japan’s luxury market. BTN met up with Blossom Japan’s organiser Jay Martens to find out more.

The Japanese luxury market has always been one of the enigmas of travel. The Japanese are the world’s largest consumer of luxury travel yet tapping into the market is regarded as a particularly tough nut to crack, shrouded in age-old traditions, middlemen, as well as a language barrier.

But now a new event is being launched to help unravel the mysteries of Japanese luxury travel. Blossom Japan is being organised by Lucioles, headed by Jay Martens, the co-founder of the Asia Luxury Travel Market (ALTM ).

Martens says he is aiming to tap into a niche created by changing patterns within the Japanese luxury market.

He explains: “Large multinational companies are an integral part of the Japanese business culture. The Japanese travel market is the same, and has traditionally been dominated by big businesses. These conglomerates have also held down everything else, particularly the smaller players.

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“You also have a situation where there have been too many intermediaries, and this too favours big businesses. This has hindered the quality of the product, and instead leads to high volume and low quality, rather than low volume and high quality.”

Yet this is at odds with what the Japanese luxury consumer is seeking, Martens believes.

He says: “It’s an integral part of the Japanese culture to strive for excellence – they have a passion and dedication for perfection that is unlike anywhere else in the world.”

But now he feels that the market is in transition. He says: “There has been growing customer dissatisfaction over the lack of choice and lack of quality available. The Japanese Tourist Board has set up Boutique JTB to reflect the shift in the market, and to nurture the smaller operators.”

So how and where does Blossom Japan fit it?

“Our aim is to break down the walls between the buyers and suppliers,” Martens explains. “It will create a platform for exhibitors to interact face to face with the luxury travel buyers and unique lifestyle providers that serve the Japanese high net worth individuals.”

The event will cater to both the Japanese outbound and inbound markets.

“Inbound tourism has never been the cornerstone of the Japanese economy, and so it has lacked the public sector initiatives. Yet Japan is an amazing country with such a wealth and variety of attractions,” he says. “I believe an exhibition should not merely be an exhibition but a tour – a taste and an insight into the host country. So as well as meeting the key players for your business, you will also get a real taste for Tokyo.”

A selected group of top international buyers will be invited to experience this bespoke destination and meet luxury providers in Japan.

It will commence with a full-day conference followed by a three-day exhibition at the Tokyo International Forum.

The exhibition will then lead into two days of pre-scheduled appointments, ensuring that all attendees are conducting business by day, and will be supplemented by a series of social events by night.

One free day in Tokyo is also included in the package to allow participants to experience the best that Tokyo has to offer.

And in a departure from traditional exhibition pricing, the Blossom Japan business model incorporates a “luxury included” approach, with all buyers and exhibitors fully hosted during their stay in Japan.

Martens says: “There is one fee, with no surprises and everything covered. It is not a typical exhibition where you are lured in with a cheap lead-in price but are then hit with lots of extras which end up costing a fortune.”

“Blossom Japan is the first event that has explored every possible detail of the event experience. As soon as your feet hit the ground in Tokyo, Lucioles and its partners will look after you, starting with transfers to our host hotels, 5-star accommodation and your participation at the show which includes an immaculately designed stand, catering and a personal translator.”

Blossom Japan, 18-21 January 2011, http://www.blossomjapan.com