Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East

Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East's website, marketing strategy and execution

March 2024

At ICS, we're committed to helping people do better, so we welcome challenges.

As part of the Product and Marketing team, we also commit to delivering the best possible work in a timely manner. And this is how we cracked this challenge!

Define the objective

This project is different from others. The goal of this project is to go-to-market for hospitality in Japan, which is new for all of us in every perspective. We must stick to our main goal, which is revenue generation, instead of creating a product that solves user needs.

If we're in the hall and I asked you to "πŸ‘‹ Show your hand if you want to visit Japan or have been to Japan," I'm sure that over 50% of the people in the hall would raise their hands.

Yes, our customers are diverse, and we must find the ones whose problems our product can solve.

Market research

Our journey begins with market research in every possible dimension. We found the Japan Inbound Statistics from a friend of ours; this data really helped us create a focus from a demographic perspective and develop a potential strategy to move forward.

We discovered that when this project started (September 2023), it was almost high season for Japanese tourism for Thai people. And yes, we must hurry.

Thai visitors in to Japan by month
Thai visitors in to Japan by month

Yes, we chose to focus on the Thai market as a proof of concept since it’s what we understand the most (we're native Thai), even though Thai travelers make up just 2% of the total.

We know we must target customers from Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as well, but let's start with the Thai market first.

Oversea travelers visits Japan by Country
Oversea travelers visits Japan by Country

Back to the Thai market, we decided to use data from 2019 instead of 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe we can't trust the updated data as a reference since Japan just reopened for travelers after May 8, 2023.

According to the data, even though Thai people travel to Japan less than those from other countries, Japan is still the number one tourist destination for Thai travelers. On average, Thai tourists stay for 3-5 days, with 57% opting for non-refundable bookings, indicating a price-conscious market. However, we are in a great situation as the current exchange rate for the Japanese yen is encouraging travelers to visit.

The 2019 data provided us with valuable insights to prepare different strategies for approaching various markets. Our hospitality services are located in Tokyo, within walking distance to the Asakusa district and Tokyo Skytree, which are top destinations for Thai tourists.

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We see a potential of 19.8% to partner with travel agencies to fill our gaps (Sorry BD team, you have an interesting job ahead).

The remaining 80% majority will require us to handle the marketing ourselves.

So, we must dig down into more detail.

Fortunately, we found research on post-COVID Thai travel behavior from a university in Thailand. This allows us to shorten the time needed to collect and analyze big data points.

Thais travel behaviors 2022
Thais travel behaviors 2022

The research concludes that 58% of tourists are likely to travel during government holidays and tourist seasons, while only 22% will travel on weekdays. They decide where to travel based on activities (76%), attractions (13%), and accommodations (11%), which is great since our hotel is next to major tourist destinations.

The top 3 activities they plan to do are sightseeing, relaxing/dining (66%), cafe hopping (63%), and visiting historical sites (39%).

They prioritize photography, dining, and relaxation over shopping. (Believe it or not, my girlfriend also plans her travel based on dining locations too.)

They base their research on social network reviews, online communities, and travel blogs on the internet rather than asking friends. They look for real photo reviews to consider the pros and cons of points of interest and places to stay, and they confirm this.

The research also confirms that organic reviews are more important for decision-making, while influencers can highlight how interesting a place is.

(This confirms the importance of reviews.)

Audience summary

Based on research and interviews with friends (and friends of friends), we can target our first iteration to this audience demographic (as some data might be confidential to share here):

  • Age: 24-35 years old
  • Travel type: Non-solo travelers (with friends, partners, or family)
  • Interests: Enjoy dining, cafe hopping, sightseeing, and local experiences
  • Travel mode: Use public transportation
  • Budget: Price conscious
  • Values: Cost-to-value comparison, such as cleanliness, travel time, and proximity to points of interest
  • Research methods: Organic reviews, social networks, and influencers

As you can see, demographic data can inform us on how to approach them, what to talk about, how to capture their interest, and potentially how to convert them.

In this article, I won't share the details of our approach since it's confidential.

We completed the marketing plan and yes, we pitched, and everything went well!

Set End-in-minds

Before marketing, you need effective materials. We know that OTA (Online Travel Agency) providers are the best way to reach customers, but since OTA comes with high customer acquisition costs and we cannot easily get customer feedback, we will market ourselves as well. Therefore, we want to put effort into making our marketing website and social network presence strong to sell online.

Our marketing materials must be convincing enough. We must set our end goals in mind for this production before visiting Japan.

Mood boards
Mood boards

Mood boards
Mood boards

Mood boards
Mood boards

Mood boards
Mood boards

Big thanks to the photographers on Unsplash.com and Behance.net for the inspiring photos that we can use as references. (Huge thanks for Unsplash's photos, which can be used for commercial purpose too).

We decided on these mood boards based on the demographic data above and confirmed them with our potential customers. Now, we're ready to fly.

Visit Japan

Visit Tokyo
Visit Tokyo

To visit Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East is really easy and straightforward; check out our blog post on how to get here.

Our first day in Tokyo wasn't ideal due to the weather, as it's just the end of the rainy season. We needed to do a photoshoot at the hotel, relying on sunlight to capture good outdoor shots within our limited 4-day window. Indoors, we used our own lighting equipment (yes, I brought 2 studio lighting sets from Thailand) to ensure high-quality photos.

Cloudy Tokyo Skytree
Cloudy Tokyo Skytree

Not only was the sky cloudy, but the rain was heavy at night. Our plan to take photoshoots around our hotel to showcase the safety of the local area was also ruined.

It's not a good sign for us, but at least we had planned this trip for 4 days.

Two of us split off to discuss operations with the Japan team, giving me the opportunity to focus on the indoor photoshoot.

Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East's facilities
Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East's facilities

By the third day, the sky cleared up, allowing us to take good photos of our building and the surrounding area. Yes, it's photoshoot time!

Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East
Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East

One of near by attraction, Kaminarimon – Asakusa's Thunder Gate
One of near by attraction, Kaminarimon – Asakusa's Thunder Gate

One of near by attraction, Tokyo Skytree
One of near by attraction, Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree is clearly visible from our hotel.

Want to see more photos or curious about the hotel? πŸ‘‰ Visit the Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East website.

Implement

Back in Thailand, and we're in a hurry again.

Initially, we focused on building a website and Facebook presence. Based on our previous customer journey research, we aimed to bridge the gap in customer consideration and consistently listened to our customers' feedback to enhance our content and website. We chose Squarespace (no affiliate) as our website building tool because it's convenient and allowed us to set up our website in just a few days.

We put effort into building the website, writing content in both Thai and English versions. Visit Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East's website.

And don't forget to check out the Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa's Facebook page for more actively updated content.

Measure and Iteration

We've just started our implementation, and we're highly conscious of our metrics. Initially, we're focusing on measuring our marketing campaign by tracking every possible metric related to ad spending, engagement rate, website visits, drop-offs, lead conversion rate, customer conversion rate, and more, all tied into acquisition cost.

We're exploring different marketing approaches such as content marketing, influencer outreach, seeding, and, importantly, leveraging real user feedback as per our research.

Flywheel
Flywheel

We've implemented HubSpot's flywheel in our workflow because we believe in its effectiveness and its alignment with our goals for business success.

So far, things are going well; we've achieved a 4.8-star rating on Google Maps and a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. We offered our customers special deals with our Japanese restaurant partner in exchange for reviews, leading to significant improvements in our review performance.

Expand offline

Even though online marketing is effective, we don't overlook the importance of offline events. They provide opportunities to hear customer feedback, engage directly with them, and gain insights that can sharpen our strategy.

We recently participated in the Thai International Travel Fair #29 at QSNCC for both raising awareness and generating sales. We learned a great deal from this event by engaging with real customers and receiving valuable feedback. Our approach wasn't just about selling; we focused on offering them the values they care about. Offline events are challenging for us desk-bound workers who are accustomed to working and meeting all day, but it was incredibly rewarding to interact with customers face-to-face.

Our salesperson at Thai International Travel Fair#29
Our salesperson at Thai International Travel Fair#29

We're pretty crowd, we're so happy.
We're pretty crowd, we're so happy.

Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East at Thai International Travel Fair#29
Hostel Inn Tokyo Asakusa East at Thai International Travel Fair#29

Key Visual for TITF#29 Event
Key Visual for TITF#29 Event

So far, this is the key visual from our past event that we used to communicate with customers. We aimed to create a photo that sells our hotel's value proposition: spacious rooms with full facilities, located near Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree.

The feedback from the event made us so happy! 😁

Next step

In this project team, I've implemented a 2-week sprint (following agile methodology) to ensure that we consistently review our iterations, gather feedback, and plan the next steps in advance, in addition to our weekly performance reviews. This approach helps us stay on track and allows us to make adjustments swiftly when needed.

This project is quite new for all of us, and we've dedicated all our efforts to making it successful!

This journey is just beginning, and we still have a lot to accomplish. By the end of January, we aim to achieve 14% of our 2024 sales target. By the end of Q1, we plan to maintain an average weekly revenue growth of 4% and an average weekly lead growth of 13%, all while keeping our Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) below 5% of total marketing spending. However, the year has just started, and we have yet to face the low season, which will require us to adapt our strategies and overcome challenges.

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πŸ‘ Please extend all recognition to our team members who have contributed to making everything happen! πŸ‘

Visit Hostel Inn's website and Facebook for more information.

Remember, direct booking is cheaper! πŸ€‘