Since I'm on the look out for social media marketing, I was interested to see this article on Japan's proposal for increasing tourism. Interestingly enough, I saw a research presentation in Feb. 2010 that found Japanese people to respond to electronic word of mouth less than Americans. The findings struck me as odd since Japan is known for its mobile internet culture. The researchers never responded to my email for more information on their study so I really don't know more. That's neither here nor there as this campaign is clearly targeting foreigners.
As I understand it, the Japanese tourism outfit is proposing a government funded grant of 10,000 airline tickets to bring visitors to Japan and increase tourism. To qualify for the promotion, applicants will need to use social media (e.g. blogs, facebook, etc.) to talk about their travel plans and eventual trip. By the way, I've already blogged my 2009 trip to Japan and adventures on Mt. Fuji. Based on the 2,000+ responses on yahoo, I see that people are already not taking this promotion seriously. It seems that everyone sees FREE and is instantly ready to sign up. My social media marketing experience/research tells me that Japan needs to really plan this out before going live. Common sense tells me that they can't actually give away completely free flights and expect it to be a success. People will need to pay something, my guess is taxes but a nice round number like $100 would work as well. If the output is nothing, what is to stop 10,000 people from signing up but never actually going? Then the money will be set aside to sponsor these flights and go to waste and Japan won't get the social publicity they want. I realize this promotion is a long way off with a potential start date of April 2012 but it's an interesting case study coming from a county famous for saving face and upholding impressions, it almost comes off as desperate.
All that being said, I loved Japan and have wanted to return since I left in 2009. I still talk about the sushi and Indian food and clothes that could never fit and our friends have a new baby I'd love to meet. Make no mistake about it, I will be the first in line to sign up if this promotion comes to fruition. In fact, I would say any offer that gets me a round trip flight to Japan for $200 or less and requires less than 17 hours travel time would be a bargain in my book. I guess it would take a bargain to get me back though as there are so many other countries I've never visited that are vying for my vacation days!