Experience-based Tourism Catering to VVIP Guests Visiting Japan
When it comes to the word ‘tourism’, images of viewing historical buildings or enjoying beautiful sights instantly spring to mind. However, currently, the definition of ‘tourism’ is evolving with the times for travelers visiting Japan; especially for the wealthier ones, who can afford the VVIP treatment.
Quickly gaining popularity is “Experience-based tourism” or “Experience-based activities”, where overseas guests can have more immersive experiences by participating in and enjoying Japanese culture based activities.
In this article, we’ll be going over the reasons why “experience-based tourism” is gaining popularity, and introduce our own experience recommendations.
What is experience-based tourism?
Different from the standard ‘view’ and ‘buy’ kind of tourism, experience-based tourism is any activity where travelers have the opportunity of creating something, moving around physically, or any activity where travelers can truly have a personal experience.
Differences with tourism of the past
Tourism up to this point has focused mainly on “goods consumption”. For example, in recent memory, people in Japan may remember seeing flocks of tourists from China buying up goods in bulk. But over time this type of consumption has also inevitably changed to a form of “service consumption” as these same tourists have started seeing the value of the unique services and experiences that Japan and its people has to offer.
Currently, there is increasing demand amongst overseas guests to enjoy experiences that engage the ‘five senses’ rather than just ‘spectating’.
Soba-uchi or classes in making soba, is one example of this. Up until recently, going to a restaurant to eat soba has primarily been a consumption-based activity. But learning how to create your own soba from a professional craftsman has attracted more significance as a form of “service consumption”.
Benefits on the Japanese side
There isn’t just a demand from travelers for these experience-based activities; there are also benefits from providing these types of experiences from the local side.
① Even if your locale does not have sufficient resources for traditional tourism, you may still be able to provide experience-based tourism services
Depending on the area, there are many places that may not have the resources to attract traditional tourism. This may be due to having to rely on what is already available, such as the characteristics of the geographical area, whether there are sufficient cultural or historical attractions or not, etc.
However, providing cultural or traditional ‘experiences’ instead, can potentially transform your locale into a popular tourist spot.
For example, participating in classes to learn how to cook Japanese cuisine became a popular experience-based activity once it was recognized by the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
From building up such services, a locale can begin to nurture talent and progress to building organizations to revitalize the local community.
② Increased opportunities for travelers to come to Japan
According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, 90% of visitors who tried out experience-based tourism once said that they would like to try it again.
Since visitors cannot experience everything in one trip, they are motivated to come back, and try out things they may have missed the first time round.
The human connection is also an indispensable factor in experience-based tourism. Positive engagement is what gives visitors true pleasure, and helps create lasting memories.
Reference: The demands of experience-based tourism – From sightseeing tourism to experiencing travel with your five senses:（https://www.tourism.jp/tourism-database/column/2008/10/new-tourism3/）
Reference: What is this “experience-based tourism” that is getting the attention of visitors?:
Differences between regular and VVIP experience-based tours.
In most cases, regular tours are based on a fixed set of activities at set locations, depending on the description of the experience the visitor selects.
However, for VVIP visitors, there may be multiple requests for schedule, destination, content, etc. to be adjusted to their specific requirements, hence flexibility is needed. There are many individuals who want to control their personal time in some detail.
For such visitors, there are hotels and designated locations offering experiences especially catering to their needs.
Even for VVIP guests who already know Japan well, having an authentic experience offers them something fresh. It is through such activities that they can experience something they find truly special.
Top 5 recommended experience-based activities for VVIP Guests
So, what kind of experience-based activities can you provide to VVIPs that is different from regular ones? Here is our top 5 recommended activities:
Going to see Kabuki at the Kabuki Theatrical Corp. can be considered very standard, but we recommend taking it to another level with VVIP’s and suggest the “Kabuki experience”.
This activity involves not just viewing a Kabuki performance, but also participating in the actors’ own workshops. Guests can also witness actors putting on their makeup and kumatori, whilst also having a direct Q & A panel with the actors themselves.
Get a glimpse of the other side of how kabuki theatres operate. It’s an experience like no other.
Tea Ceremony and Flower Arrangement
Try on a real kimono with an expert by your side, and experience the traditional Japanese art of tea ceremony and flower arrangement. Flower arrangement is instructed by a true master, whilst the tea ceremony is conducted by the chief priest of the Urasenke school, who performs the tea ceremony for guests himself.
The distinctive scent of tatami mats in a quiet traditional Japanese setting is something that can only be experienced in Japan itself.
Japanese Martial Arts
Karate and Judo are already Olympic sports that have gained much popularity overseas. Another aspect of these sports which is capturing the attention of travelers is the distinctive mannerisms and spirituality of the sport.
Like the previously introduced activities, this one also has a professional to teach the guests about the sport. As an opportunity to experience the real thing, this activity is highly recommended.
Whether it is the art of using daggers or blowpipes, guests can get a truly hands-on training experience from a real ninja.
Since ninjas are already quite popular with children overseas thanks to Japanese animation and manga, this activity is highly recommended for VVIP guests with children.
Japanese Sake Experience
Because of the growing familiarity with Japanese sake even overseas, there is no shortage of visitors who already appreciate Japanese sake.
In this activity the guest learns the unique history of a sake brewery in Niigata from a sake professional, and about pairing sake with a variety of cuisines. This is an experience that will make any sake lover truly happy.
Reference: I would also like to impress the following upon guests! 10 experience-based activities that will impress（https://www.thebecos.com/journal/vip-reception/#i-8）
There are already many VVIPs out there who have travelled to various locations across Japan, and tried all kinds of delicious foods.
Also, due to the Internet and the spread of commerce, this is an age where local information and answers can be obtained at the touch of your smartphone. In this day and age, especially for VVIP travelers, what all desire, and what cannot be attained through money alone, is true “value”.
This means going to the location, rubbing shoulders with the best, and immersing yourself in the experience. Especially in Japan, these experience-based activities will create once-in-a-lifetime memories for the participants. So, whenever you are providing hospitality to VVIP’s, strive to provide an experience that will linger in their hearts well after their trip is over.