News

Is Japan's Travel Industry Ready for Twitter?

Published on May 20, 2009
Is Japan's Travel Industry Ready for Twitter?
-----PacRim Marketing Unveils Strategy

by Adrian Mangiboyat
published in TJI

http://tji.tjnet.co.jp/

The Twitter craze has spread like wildfire in the U.S. but it has yet to become a phenomenon in the Japanese market where high-tech developments are the norm.

PacRim Marketing Group, Inc., however, has developed a strategy to pioneer the use of U.S. popular social media marketing platforms such as Twitter in the Japanese travel market.

With offices in Honolulu (U.S. market) and Tokyo (Japanese market), PacRim began testing its efforts that led to the launching of Twitter accounts for its Japanese national employees, as well as for its editor and writers in the Japanese language who oversee the content of hawaii-Arukikata.com, one of the most popular web portal sites for Hawaii.

It has created active Twitter accounts for HawaiiTenki (Hawaii Weather), Hawaiiarukikata (Hawaii News), HawaiiFriends (Hawaii-arukikata.com Readers' Cafe), HawaiiDeGohan (Hawaii Gourmet) and MyHawaiiHotel (Hawaii Hotel deals) that are updated several times daily.

"In our planning of new strategies, we are always asking ourselves 'what's next?" said Dave Erdman, president and CEO of PacRim.

He said that Twitter is the latest the rage in the U.S., with the social media exploding to new levels. Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.

However, he said it has yet to catch on in Japan which continues to be one of the leaders globally in high-tech media development.

Erdman said research showed that no real effort in the Japanese travel industry has yet led to the use of this new technology and communications tool.

"Over 300 destinations and hotels in U.S. and Hawaii are using Twitter to communicate the destination members, events, specials in restaurants, packages, value-plus programs, and rates in English."

Some tourist offices in the U.S. such as Minneapolis are looking at employing Twitter in their marketing efforts aimed at the Japanese market.

However, momentum in the Japanese market has been slow, he said.

"In this challenging economy, Twitter is a simple-to-use and powerful marketing tool to get a message out to various media channels and direct to consumers--if used correctly," explained Erdman. "We decided to have a full-force effort to have our team all use and experience Twitter, learn some of the key tricks to successful use, and deploy it in Japanese language to reach prospective visitors."

One of its findings in its research of the Japanese market was that the number of Japanese who knew how to twitter was far smaller than that compared to the U.S. market.

Recognizing this, PacRim developed a Japanese-language training tutorial and posted on the Japanese YouTube for Japanese users to learn how to sign up, create a Twitter account, and to use it to follow individuals or companies that they can learn from, and have others follow.

Launched on May 13, the Japanese-language video can be seen at http://www.hawaii-arukikata.com and YouTube.

Simplicity Makes Twitter Easy

Erdman explained that the 140-character message keeps communications brief, but the message remains powerful, as it can link to articles, and include photos. "It takes discipline to write short -- but shorter is powerful! Easier to read and digest," said Erdman.

For Twitter, Japanese consumers and media can use their actual name and face, or an Avatar, or a logo of the company or business.

"Twitter is so simple and fun to use, but has some very practical applications for specific industries, and we see terrific applications in the Japanese travel industry, especially as Japanese consumers and travelers who are tech-savvy and like to gather information from others, and learn about destinations, hotels, activities prior to traveling," he said.

Twitter can also work on Japanese mobile phones, and the concept of Twitter is simple: "What are you doing now?"

In 140 characters, consumers can use Twitter to find their friends or family at the mall while traveling, or use Twitter as a powerful instant communications tool in "real-time" to communicate experiences of their vacation directly back to Japan to friends, family and also, to the general consumer.

Social Media is just that, it's social, and can spread a message quickly and instantaneously, he explained.

PacRim has begun connecting "Tweets" or Twitter messages to Japanese-language Facebook accounts, which enable Japanese travelers to learn more about a business or service, and interact easily on-line and share information.

PacRim, in conjunction with group company PRTech, plans to help companies set up and develop integrated social marketing and reputation management programs using Facebook, Twitter and a major Japanese social media platform.

Twitter Guidebook

"The travel industry has new technology tools available which are inexpensive to use. Our goal is to assist our clients from overseas with new methods to connect with potential Japanese consumers and prospective visitors, and utilize social media platforms and approaches popularized in the U.S.," said Erdman.

"Now it's a reality to engage in these Social Media platforms since Facebook and Twitter are both in the Japanese language."

Meanwhile, some Japanese-language guidebooks providing information on how to Twitter were introduced last year in anticipation on the expected boom in Japan.