GHA pointers on Japanese travel insights

SINGAPORE, 27 June 2024: Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), an alliance of independent hotel brands, revealed key 2024 Japanese travel and tourism trends during its global CEO conference last week. 

Staged in Japan for the first time, the CEOs of more than 40 GHA hotel brands gathered in Tokyo to hear insights into the preferences and behaviours of Japanese travellers.

GHA CEO Chris Hartley, alongside Minor Hotel Group CEO Dillip Rajakarier and Pan Pacific Hotels Group CEO Choe Peng Sum.

GHA Discovery, a multi-brand loyalty programme that has 340,000 members in Japan alone, was the source of insights and data presented by GHA CEOs. The top international destinations for the Japan-based GHA Discovery members in 2024 are the US and Thailand, in terms of nights stayed and spending, followed by Singapore.

Japan remains the most popular inbound destination among GHA Discovery’s 27-million-strong global membership. In 2024, the US was the top source market, followed by Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Delving deeper into Japanese travel trends, a recent survey conducted by Interbrand Japan in collaboration with Global Hotel Alliance showed that international travel is picking up slowly. 

Japan’s outbound travel data for 2023 shows travellers reached half of the 2019 total, indicating a slower recovery rate 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 matters 

Japanese tourists 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

Quality of accommodation, a convenient location, and affordability are important factors in hotel selection. High-end customers also value 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 nuances 

Supporting its research, Interbrand Japan’s focus group identified affluent travellers who have a strong appetite for international travel. Bucking the general market trend, these travellers are not as concerned about safety but are motivated by unique, local, and exclusive experiences in their destinations, 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.

The GHA CEO event in Tokyo celebrated the alliance’s 20th anniversary. Since its establishment in 2004, GHA has grown into a collection of 40 brands with more than 800 hotels, resorts and palaces in 100 countries.


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