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Onwards and upwards for Starwood Japan

Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels and & Resorts has emerged unscathed from a year of natural disasters in Japan. The group has been able to enter 2012 with a major recovery in its MICE industry, thanks to relocation initiatives, familiarisation trips, and an invite to a MICE advisory board to experience the country's recovery first-hand. Since last April, the group has put into force a number of initiatives and these have generated more than US$6 million in MICE-related sales in its Japanese hotels.

The hospitality chain, which owns 17 properties across Japan, witnessed a marked drop in occupancy in its Tokyo hotels when the country was hit by an earthquake, tsunami and subsequently fears of a radiation meltdown in March 2011. Starwood took part in relocating more than 800 business clients from Northern to Western Japan, and moved forward the opening date of the new Sheraton Hiroshima by ten day in order to accommodate the relocation.

Keen to show Japan’s swift recovery process, the group organised familiarisation trips for more than 20 MICE buyers from China and Southeast Asia and endorsed MICE-specific promotions in its Japanese properties. The company has gone from strength to strength, with some of its properties surging in popularity in the aftermath of the quake. One of the group’s best performers was the St. Regis Osaka where occupancy returned to the norm of 80 per cent just two months after the disaster.

In November 2011, Starwood invited members of their Asia Pacific MICE Advisory Board to witness the fast-paced changes which were taking place across the country and in the previous crisis zones. This board consisted of influential industry leaders who provided Starwood with guidance and insight into this important market segment. The event was hosted by Starwood’s Asia Pacific Chairman and President, Mr Miguel Ko, and Vice President for Sales in Asia Pacific, Ms Alison Taylor, who were there to lend their voice to the recovery campaign. A positive response from 25 of the 35 board members was seen as a strong show of support from the industry specialists.

 “MICE is an important segment for Starwood’s Japan properties. Post crisis, there were significant cancellations from MICE groups across our hotels in Japan. We are keen to support and to work in tandem with the Japan National Tourism Organization to bring this business segment back to the destination. We have also responded to the feedback from key clients by implementing their suggestions to help in the recovery. We are pleased with the results achieved so far and we hope that our efforts will continue to bear fruit,” stated Starwood’s Chairman and President for the Asia Pacific region Mr Miguel Ko. Starwood will be looking to continue this successful path towards growth in 2012 and it looks like all factors are pointing in the right direction in Japan.

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