What's hot and what's not for meetings in Japan right now

What meeting planners need to know about Japan now that the country's borders have fully reopened.

Webinar panellists debated the future role of hotels, the levels of demand for meeting in Japan and costs
Webinar panellists debated the future role of hotels, the levels of demand for meeting in Japan and costs Photo Credit: Adobe/metamorworks

With Japan back on the global travel scene since its borders have fully reopened since October, meeting planners are seeing a strong comeback for events and meetings in the country.

At a recent webinar to discuss Japan's future MICE trends, Cvent's senior regional sales director Presley Barretto said that it was encouraging to see that more than 56% of RFPs sent into Japan are now including both meeting rooms and sleep room requirements, according to Cvent data.

“With borders opening up, planners’ requirements are going back to what they were pre-pandemic,” he said. “We are seeing a shift in where planners are coming from too – with a lot of demand from the US – and our data shows that overall 45% of the demand [for MICE in Japan] is coming from the west.”

We are seeing a shift in where planners are coming from too – with a lot of demand from the US – and our data shows that overall 45% of the demand [for MICE in Japan] is coming from the west.
Presley Barretto, senior regional sales director, Cvent

Hotels are getting into a tricky position too, noted Cy West, area director of sales and distribution, Japan & Guam at Marriott International. While business has definitely picked up in Japan, he said hotels are increasingly facing situations where planners are not confirming bookings until as late as possible. Yet with the current level of demand, hotels are advising planners to book well in advance.

“Organisers are very conscious of not incurring any cancellation or attrition fees if the size of the event or the group size reduces,” said West. “They are leaving the planning process as late as possible so as not to incur any charges. We’ve noticed in particular that even multi-level marketing companies, which would traditionally have announced an event destination one or two years in advance, are putting off announcing this until much later.”

West said that numbers for incentive groups have dwindled too for the present time. While he acknowledged that people are keen to get back to face-to-face events, incentive group sizes remain smaller than pre-pandemic.

[Smaller incentive group sizes] is perhaps related to the mindset of whether there may be further travel restrictions; if it’s a smaller group, they can handle these restrictions more easily.
Cy West, area director of sales and distribution, Japan & Guam, Marriott International

“This is perhaps related to the mindset of whether there may be further travel restrictions,” he said. “If it’s a smaller group, they can handle these restrictions more easily.” He added that it is key for hoteliers to therefore be as flexible as possible with booking terms.

Glen Grosic, managing director at Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Southeast Asia, noted the increase in demands for personalisation and local experiences.

West said hotels almost have to become destination management companies, and be in a position to recommend experiences, particularly F&B ones.

“All of the hotels [I am responsible for] have at least one F&B experience at the property – being able to offer this option also instils confidence in the booker, because rather than going off site, the experience is hosted at the hotel,” said West.

He added that hotels are also moving away from building in negotiation around prices and that the rate quoted within the proposal will increasingly be the best rate available.



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