Reaching the Japanese Tourist - A qualitative study investigating Australian Tourism Companies’ promotional efforts on the Japanese market
The purpose of this study is to investigate promotion within the tourism industry on the Gold Coast, Australia, focusing on tourism companies’ promotional efforts on the Japanese market. The aim is to answer the question ‘How can Australian tourism companies effectively promote themselves on the Japanese market?’ through five specific research objectives: (1) to get a better understanding of tourism- and attraction marketing, (2) to get familiar with the characteristics of the Japanese tourist and their travel patterns, (3) to investigate which factors in regards to culture, are influencing the tourism companies’ promotion in Japan, (4) to identify critical success factors for successful promotion of Australian tourism companies on the Japanese market, and (5) to identify similarities and differences between small and large companies when it comes to tourism promotion on the Japanese market.
A variety of secondary data, including well-known theories and models were studied and presented in addition to a qualitative study investigating four tourism companies. It is found that the numbers of Japanese tourists to the Gold Coast has decreased over the last decade, much due to macro factors such as changes in aviation and exchange rates, and increased competition from short-haul destinations. However, Japan still represents a main international interest, which makes it crucial for tourism companies to be familiar with the characteristics of the Japanese tourist and their travel patterns. It becomes evident that Japanese tourists have changed over the last years, and findings show that existing cultural frameworks are inadequate to describe the Japanese culture and tourist. Our empirical results show that cultural adaptations are not as extensive as suggested by theory and that the main cultural adjustments are made in language. In addition, it is important to consider the Japanese have higher expectations of service, and are long-term planners.
It is further found that promotional efforts in Japan do not differ greatly from how they promote their companies in Australia. The most important difference in this industry, however, is the power of the Japanese inbound wholesalers or travel agents (the trade), which highly determines promotional efforts. Such relationships are vital, as the Japanese still book their holiday trough traditional channels.
Hence, the most effective promotional tool is found to be wholesalers travel brochures. The power of the trade renders Internet promotion less important, as companies are advised to make use of the wholesalers’ more sophisticated websites. Moreover, publicity is found to be essential promotional tool, including celebrity endorsement, travel TV programs, travel books, and piggybacking on local events. Finally, great benefits can be gained by participating in intra-destination collaboration. When it comes to similarities and differences between small and large tourism companies’ promotion on the Japanese market, it is found that these differences are not as large as we had expected much due to the importance of the trade.
Key Words: Tourism Marketing, Japan, Japanese tourists, Japanese travel patterns, culture, promotion, trade relationships, collaboration
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