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Example of a 100-person incentive trip to Japan

A major Japanese manufacturing company

Approximately 100 people

Nagoya, Tokyo, Kyoto

Mid-May, 2023

Incentive trips for exceptional employees are effective not only because they provide a company’s or organization’s workforce the opportunity to participate in special travel experiences, awards ceremonies, or networking events. Many in organizational management consider incentive trips to be an indispensable form of reward, with expected benefits including improved communication among employees and tighter team cohesion. Although the COVID-19 pandemic put overseas excursions largely on hold for a time, demand for travel has recovered and large-scale tours are making a comeback. In this case study we highlight a successful incentive trip that JTB organized in May of 2023 for a major Japanese company that brought its employees from Europe to Japan.


This JTB-organized tour invited the client’s highest-achieving and contributing employees on a sightseeing trip to Japan as a way for the company to express its gratitude for their hard work and to further improve team spirit through close communication. The core objectives were to enhance our client’s organizational strength, improve employee motivation, and spark intracompany networking through a sightseeing trip to Japan. This client had a tradition of rewarding its employees with incentive trips before the pandemic, and with the recovery in demand for overseas travel, they wanted to reinvigorate their time-honored tradition.


This incentive trip had been repeatedly postponed due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. The biggest challenge for our planners was ensuring that they crafted an experience that would go well beyond what participants were expecting while they eagerly awaited the day they would finally arrive in Japan. And with nearly 100 people participating in the incentive trip, we strived for excellence in all facets of their travel experience, including clear assistance regarding traveling to and from the airports and prompt provision of in-flight services. The success of the tour hinged on our ability to coordinate schedules closely with local tourist facilities once the guests arrived in Japan and to perform all tasks with meticulous attention to detail.


1. Crafting comfortable air travel on a private, business-class jet

For our guests’ journey to Japan, we arranged for a private, business-class jet that provided a unique travel experience right off the bat. Instead of the busy London Heathrow Airport, we arranged for their flight to depart from London Stansted Airport, which is often used for private flights, so that guests would enjoy an atypical check-in and lounge experience. Equipped with first-class in-flight facilities, our guests were informed ahead of time about the aircraft’s reclining seats, power ports, WiFi availability, and were provided information about use of tablets and headphones.

2. Selection of some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Japan

We hand-picked the Park Hyatt Kyoto and Okura Hotel Tokyo for our guests as both hotels offer luxurious accommodations. Their convenient location for dining and sightseeing, modern and sophisticated use of space, and the traditional Japanese aesthetic they offer to guests were the key aspects that caught our attention. We coordinated with the hotels to provide special access to their bars specifically for our guests so that they could unwind after returning to the hotel from sightseeing or meetings. For dining experiences, we arranged for venues that would delight not only the taste buds, but all five senses. Examples in Tokyo included Gonpachi in Nishi-Azabu, which appeared in the famous movie Kill Bill, the traditional garden Happo-en where traditional Japanese beauty is on full display, and the Meiji Kinenkan, which boasts an impressively large banquet hall space.

3. Scheduling a balance between special sightseeing experiences and plenty of free time

We prepared two types of sightseeing plans: tours for all participants and elective tours. All participants were invited to watch a live Sumo tournament and, if interested and physically up for it, people could participate in such experiences as joining a tea ceremony in a Japanese garden, dressing in a kimono, and riding a rickshaw with a reservation one day in advance. For transportation across Japan, we used the world famous Shinkansen bullet train, and placed particular emphasis on attention to detail to ensure that guests fully experienced Japanese culture, whether it be in terms of the accommodations, transportation, and dining. We paid particular attention to including plenty of free time in the itineraries to allow for relaxation and personal time. The pandemic severely impacted the ability of hotels, restaurants, and bus companies to operate. Although returning to ordinary operations took a considerable amount of time, we maintained persistent communication on a daily basis with our service providers so that we would be ahead of any sudden developments, for better or for worse.

4. Smooth collaboration leveraging JTB’s global presence

The success of this tour, which was organized by a branch office of JTB Europe, was due in large part to the close cooperation between JTB’s Japan sales offices and the client’s Japan headquarters. Communication between the person in charge of the planning on the Japan-side of things and the JTB Japan sales representative started at the preparation stage, which allowed us to demonstrate our consideration for travelers on a detailed level, provide renowned Japanese-style hospitality, and adjust schedules throughout the process of planning multiple tours for such a large group of people. Indeed, one of JTB’s strengths is that it operates on a global scale, which empowers us to communicate in advance with clients not only while they are in Japan, but while they are in countries all over the world.


While this post-pandemic incentive tour was quite large in scale and free of COVID-19-related restrictions, it required JTB to leverage its unique global response capabilities to the maximum extent possible. In fact, this tour was not handled by JTB alone, but with the help of other, local agents. JTB’s ability to deliver such thoughtful services to our travelers was only possible thanks to its extensive experience providing services to Japanese clients. According to reports from local agents, everyone involved was extremely satisfied with the tour contents. Participants enjoyed this trip so much it even inspired the agents to discover and create new and unique venues.

JTB is a travel agency headquartered in Japan and provides comprehensive support in all fields of travel to Japan, from sightseeing tours for guests from around the world to MICE events such as international conferences, incentive tours, and international events. In an era when incentive travel must also be cost-effective, we at JTB first clarify the purpose of the trip, such as improving corporate performance, increasing employee motivation, or strengthening relationships with business partners, and then provide total support from concept design in its planning stages to implementation of the plan and verification of post-trip results, all to ensure you maximize the trip’s benefits.

Contact us at JTB not only for tours to Japan, but also for any incentive trip plan. Inquire about tours

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