How to secure hotel rooms in Japan

Hotel room japan

With the rapid growth of inbound tourism in recent years, hotel rooms in Japan are suddenly in short supply. It is widely known among business people in Japan that this is particularly the case in large cities like Tokyo and Osaka, so they try to book way in advance if they know that they are traveling at certain dates.

This is also the case in Kyoto, Next Japan Travel’s hometown, or perhaps we should say that the rooms in hotels are the least supply in this old capital with dozens of world heritages. Have a look at this number announced by Kyoto Convention Bureau: from April 2014 to January 2015, the occupancy rate of the major 25 hotels in Kyoto was 87.2%. Of this 30% were foreign customers and 70% were Japanese. While the use of Japanese is decreasing, that of foreigners are growing fast. And this is probably only the beginning if we consider the current market trend.

So, what can be done to secure hotel rooms for our expected tours and MICE events? Here are our suggestions:

  1. Plan well in advance. This is the very basic but is probably the most important point. And it’s particularly so if you are planning to travel during high seasons (e.g. sakura season at the end of March to early April, or winter break from Christmas to New Years).
  2. Add regional cities in your portfolio. Remember Japan is a large country and it is not only about Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. In fact, other regional cities may also be quite tight in hotel supply, but depending on season, the situation is still better. Put cities such as Fukuoka, Kobe, Nagoya, Kanazawa and Yokohama into your portfolio if you are considering travel or MICE in Japan.
  3. Work with an experienced and passionate DMC. It always helps to work with a local DMC who knows the market well. They have detailed calendars in their mind, so they will be able to suggest when to come (or when to avoid coming) depending on your purpose and needs. And they should have deep relationships with hotel managers, meaning that they may be able to arrange your special needs in a delicate tailor-made manner. 

With these three guidelines, your chances of securing hotel rooms in Japan will increase significantly.

In case everything goes wrong, there are always capsule hotels…

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Good luck!