Annually held in Sydney, the Travel Industry Exhibition, or TIE, serves as a gathering for travel industry experts, travel planners, bloggers and the like as almost a VIP gathering for industry professionals to share ideas, attend seminars and learn a little about the each individual exhibitor’s professions or their side of the world. The chic and spacious Peninsula in Docklands, Melbourne, was the first Melbourne-based version of the event and while it did not have an incredibly large amount of attendees, there was certainly quite a variety.
Helping out at the Japan National Tourist Organisation’s (or JNTO) booth, I definitely saw people in a range of different professions. The quieter moments during the expo saw a number of exhibitors stopping to chat with us as well. I think our red coats, colourful posters and bright smiles caught their attention!
JNTO’s aim for the expo was to spread the word to attending travel agents and company representatives about Japan and how they can help provide information or work with their companies. JNTO’s Sydney branch handles enquiries regarding Japan from all over Australia and their website provides a great deal of information anyone travelling to Japan would need to know before visiting including information on the lifestyle and culture.
Another great feature of their website is the trip planner which allows you to plan your own trip or way of getting around Japan. There are an abundance of resources but if you’re still unsure, they also have a more personal method of learning more about Japan, too. You can give them a call, visit their office or even send them an email.
Holding the fort, were Sally Miles and Marika Tanaka, who I had the pleasure of working with and interviewing on this occasion. They had flown down from Sydney just to represent the JNTO in Melbourne’s Travel Industry Expo. Miles has been working with the JNTO for around 9 months now and was scouted by a recruiter on seek, she got an offer after her interview went well and she took a leap and gave it a shot. With half the office staff being Japanese and half Australia based staff, they use a mixture of both English and Japanese during a work day, which she said definitely helped her speaking and listening skills skyrocket.
Being more on the business development and marketing side of things, a regular day at work for Miles consists of checking and responding to emails, liasing with travel agents, corresponding with the head office, ordering brochures and managing brochure stock in the warehouse, sending out newsletters to travel agents and corresponding with participants of their familiarisation trips.
As it was Miles’ first time participating in a trade expo, she was unsure what exactly to expect, but had mentioned that she had thought there would be a few more attendees. Although, she spoke about how it was great to be able to talk to agents face to face, especially people who she had exchanged emails with in the past and mentioned that the overall experience was really enjoyable.
When I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say or if she had any particular message, Miles was quite fervent in saying; “We really want people to know that JNTO doesn’t want to just promote [the more well known areas of] Japan, we also want to promote the lesser known areas and support and inform those who do want to go off the beaten track.”
Being a fan of taking the less travelled road, myself, I couldn’t help but admire her passionate statement.
Marika Tanaka, Director of the JNTO Sydney branch, very humbly insisted that she was not the one to be asking questions and that Miles would be playing the lead role in the Travel Industry Expo Sydney and Melbourne events, I thought it would be a waste not to at least get a few words from the director. Tanaka role mostly involves managing the digital marketing aspects, promotion to increase the amount of tourists going to Japan, researching what Australians want to see on their website and social media accounts, as well as what they like about Japan and the culture.
When I asked Tanaka for a message as well, she took a few moments to think and agreed with Miles in saying that the various regions and prefectures of Japan “[have] a unique culture in each area. It would be nice if tourists and visitors could experience the different sides of Japan.” She also encouraged travellers to visit Japan during different times of the year to further experience Japan’s seasonal culture.
Considering that it was the first time for TIE to come to Melbourne, the turnout was not all that bad. There were a number of reports that the number of attendees was much lower than its Sydney counterpart, however, you have to start somewhere. The Travel Industry Expo can only grow and improve from here onwards, and we are all looking forward to seeing it do so.