Thursday 18 July 2024

Japan top destination for GHA Discovery members

, 24 days ago

Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands, revealed key 2024 Japanese travel and tourism trends at its global CEO conference last week. 
Staged in Japan for the first time, the CEOs of more than 40 GHA hotel brands and media gathered at Hotel Groove Shinjuku in Tokyo to hear insights into the preferences and behaviours of Japanese travellers.
GHA brings together a diverse collection of independent hospitality brands with GHA Discovery, a multi-brand loyalty programme leveraging a shared technology platform. GHA Discovery member data shows its membership base in Japan continues to grow, now up to 340,000 members. Hotel revenue generated by its Japan-based members is increasing too, already ahead of total 2023 figures just five months into 2024, indicating a return to international travel, which has been slow to recover since the pandemic. 
Top international destinations for Japan-based GHA Discovery members so far in 2024 are the US and Thailand in terms of nights stayed and spend, followed by Singapore.
When it comes to which GHA properties they like to stay at the most, the most popular destinations, in terms of nights spent, are in Hawaii, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur, while in revenue terms the top three are the Outrigger hotels in Waikiki.
Looking at Japan as an inbound destination, it remains the most popular choice among GHA Discovery's 27-million-strong global membership, with the US being the top source market in 2024, followed by Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, respectively. 
Further reinforcing the popularity of Japan, Bellustar Tokyo, a partner of Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts, together with Hotel Groove Shinjuk, a Parkroyal partner hotel, were the top-performing GHA properties in 2023 and 2024 to date, by nights stayed and revenue generated by GHA Discovery loyalty members. In the last 12 months members delivered 50,983 room nights to the two hotels, which only opened in May 2023.
Delving deeper into Japanese traveller trends, a recent survey conducted by Interbrand Japan, in collaboration with Global Hotel Alliance, found:
* International travel picking up slowly: Japan’s number of outbound travellers in 2023 was about half that of 2019, with a slower recovery compared to domestic travel demand. 74% of respondents do not plan to travel internationally in 2024, citing high prices, a weak Japanese Yen, and uncertainty as main deterrents.
* New experiences and safety matter: Japanese tourists that are travelling overseas seek new experiences (45% of respondents) and are eager to spend days sightseeing and shopping (42%), while familiar and secure experiences, and relaxing in hotels, are less important. Safety, comfort, and affordability are crucial factors in destination choice, with high-end customers seeking adventurous new experiences.
* Hotel quality counts the most: For hotel selection, quality of accommodation, a convenient location, and affordability are important, with high-end customers also valuing hotel amenities and accommodation size.
* Loyalty starts with the basics: Members of loyalty programmes appreciate membership rates, discounts, and rewards the most, while high-end customers place additional importance on emotional experiences and service quality.
Market nuance: the affluent Japanese traveller
Supporting its research, Interbrand Japan’s focus group with affluent travellers found this demographic had a strong appetite for international travel. Bucking the general market trend, these travellers are not as concerned about safety, but motivated by unique, local, and exclusive experiences in the destinations they visit, informed by other ‘in the know’ travellers, rather than mainstream guidebooks. They identified Budapest, Rome, Prague and mountainous destinations in the US and Switzerland as current travel inspirations. 
Affluent Japanese travellers also prefer independent hotels with local character and charm to cookie-cutter brands and value loyalty programme benefits that make their travel experience more seamless and convenient, such as upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and early check-in/late checkout.
GHA CEO Chris Hartley, alongside Choe Peng Sum, CEO of Pan Pacific Hotels Group, Dillip Rajakarier, Group CEO of Minor International and Masahito Namiki, President & CEO of Interbrand Japan, shared their insights on these trends and more at the CEO meeting and media event in Tokyo.
“It is clear the growing number of GHA Discovery members in Japan are contributing to our global network, delivering business to GHA hotels in key destinations around the world, and this is expected to increase as confidence in international travel returns,” Hartley remarked.
“Japan is not only a crucial market for outbound travel but also one of the most popular destinations for our global members. This has translated into significant revenue for hotels based in the country, a trend we anticipate will continue to grow, as we look to expand our presence in the country.”
The GHA CEO event in Tokyo is also timed to celebrate the alliance’s 20th anniversary. Since it was established in 2004, GHA has grown into a collection of 40 brands with more than 800 hotels, resorts and palaces in 100 countries, supported by GHA Discovery. First launched in 2010, and reimagined in 2021, this loyalty programme now serves 27 million members worldwide, and generated $2.3 billion in revenue and 10 million room nights in 2023.  - TradeArabia News Service


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