Award-Winning Incentive Travel in Japan

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Award-Winning Incentive Travel in Japan

By JAPAN Meetings and Events | Jan 30, 2020

More and more companies are choosing Japan for their incentive travel programs. These tours vary greatly in destination, content and theme. But which are the most successful? Which achieve their goals, satisfy their participants, and do so with care and creativity? 
The JAPAN Best Incentive Travel Awards are designed to answer those questions. Every year, the Japan National Tourism Organization announces the best of the best. In 2019, 68 applications from 13 countries and regions were whittled down to three winners. One took the grand prize for Best Incentive Travel, while the others won for Best Creative Planning and Best Community Contribution.  
At a ceremony held on October 23 at the historic Osaka City Central Public Hall, the Best Incentive Travel Award for 2019 went to a program called "Back to the Origins." Organized by JTB Europe for the Honda Swiss Dealer Contest, the program took 59 participants to Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as less familiar destinations such as Kumamoto, in southwest Japan.  
Judges praised the program for its variety of activities. Mitsuru Moriguchi, managing director of the trade magazine MICE Japan, noted that, "It didn't limit itself to Hondarelated affairs. The schedule gave participants a full introduction to Japanese culture, letting them experience the joy that comes from seeing new possibilities." 

Japan is well known for its mix of the modern and traditional. "Back to the Origins" covered both, with visits to Kyoto's Nijo Castle and Tokyo's SkyTree.
Japan is well known for its mix of the modern and traditional. "Back to the Origins" covered both, with visits to Kyoto's Nijo Castle and Tokyo's SkyTree.  
But rather than simply viewing Japan's sights, participants were encouraged to get involved. They cycled the streets, sang karaoke with a live band and enjoyed dinner at a robot restaurant. This caught the attention of another judge—Makiko Yamamoto, honorary president of the Japan Chapter of MPI. She saw the program as a perfect example of activity-based incentive travel, a trend in the industry. 

Underlying everything was the theme of "joy," a key word for a company that is famous for "Three Joys": the Joy of Buying, the Joy of Selling and the Joy of Creating. At its core, Honda aims to exceed expectations and foster happiness in both customers and dealers. In Moriguchi's opinion, "This travel program embodied those ideals." 
One of the competition judges saw broader potential for this winning approach. Hiroshi Hiraizumi, Director of Meetings and Events Promotion at the Japan Tourism Agency, said, "The tour is an effective example that I'd like to see applied to other Japanese businesses." 

The Best Creative Planning Award

The "Best Creative Planning" award went to the China International Travel Service Guangdong, who organized a 6-day trip for a consulting company from Guangzhou, China. The tour was centered around Japan's centenarian companies, with visits to Seiko, Asahi and Panasonic. Balancing this exploration of tradition was a special lecture on the philosophies of emerging Japanese businesses.  
Long-established companies are a familiar feature of Japan's corporate landscape, and this tour succeeded by harnessing the knowledge they can share. Etsuko Kawasaki, executive director of the Japan National Tourism Organization, was clearly impressed. "Using centenarian companies in incentive travel is extremely intriguing. The market will continue to grow from here on." 

The Best Community Contribution Prize

The "Best Community Contribution" prize went to Japan View, a Thai company that organized a 4-night tour for a public organization. Entitled "Good Time in Akita," the tour took place almost entirely in Akita Prefecture. The 27 participants visited agricultural businesses and stayed overnight at a farm, fostering international insights.  
Kawasaki remarked that "Akita Prefecture isn't often visited by incentive travel programs, so the success of this one will leave behind a strong legacy. I heard that many of the participants didn't even know where Akita was, but once they saw it, they fell in love. Many expressed a desire to return in the future." 
And Moriguchi added: "Using agriculture as a theme for incentive travel felt extremely fresh. I thought it could shine a light on other areas of Japan, illuminating their potential." 
The JAPAN Best Incentive Travel Awards underlined that a successful tour doesn't just benefit the organizers and the participants. It has the potential to contribute to local communities and influence the incentive travel market across the globe. For further details on the contest, visit:




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