Last month, I co-hosted my inaugural online client event in conjunction with a couple of colleagues and the superb InsideJapan, a specialist tour operator with whom I work closely when my clients plan to explore this intriguing country.
Putting together an appealing and professional event requires meticulous planning at the best of times but with the limitations caused by the pandemic, there was a considerable amount of additional work required to get this show on the virtual road.
I am a strong believer that it’s impossible to impart a sincere passion for a destination and to share it without having visited personally or at least be in receipt of in-depth training. So, before any invitations could be issued, we embarked upon some comprehensive home-schooling with our very own Mr Miyagi in the form of InsideJapan’s Matt Spiller, as our teacher and mentor.
Feeling confident after our updated education, we set about the task of creating a virtual event that would have the same engagement as an in-person one.
I knew that Matt would produce a captivating presentation and we had produced an impressive poster and invitation. My biggest concern was the usual – although I knew several clients had Japan on their wish lists, would they and others be interested and would they show up? Of course they would - and did - and the hardest part was not having enough places to satisfy demand!
Next was the question of a thoughtful goody bag. We wanted to do more than what is often simply freebies and a gadget you didn’t know you needed. Tour operators are usually happy and able to fund these necessities but with income at an all-time low and budgets understandably tight we needed to be creative.
The results were impressive and with Matt kindly helping to collate them. The packages, which included Japanese rice crackers and tea, recipe cards and origami, were dispatched in advance to the first 16 successful guest applicants with strict instructions not to open them before the day.
Hosting the event on Zoom, which has of course become a familiar tool for all, gave us the best opportunity for guest interaction. With 100% attendance, it was also a real thrill to see clients who I had only previously spoken with by phone or via email.
Our associate, Danny Sperling, introduced the evening and Matt ‘Mr Miyagi’ Spiller delivered a fascinating presentation; his inside knowledge and personal experience of living in Japan proving invaluable to all.
The worry of technology failures and any awkward silences slipped away as we approached half time and took a break for our shared green tea experience and questions.
We concluded with a collective effort at completing our origami cranes with varying degrees of success and the winner of a stylish bottle of Roku (Japanese gin made with juniper, shiso leaf, sesame seeds, cucumber, sansho and yuzu) was decided by the closest guess as to how many volcanoes remain active in this diverse country. The answer is 110. Who knew? Jen did!
Congratulations to Jen and Darran who also kindly agreed to a Q&A with yours truly to share the experience of the event from a client perspective.
Feedback following the event was incredible, resulting in two immediate bookings and others swiftly moving Japan to the top of their travel bucket lists with an intention to secure their dream adventures at the earliest opportunity.
A massive thanks not only to InsideJapan and my colleagues but also to my fabulous clients whose smiling faces and enthusiastic participation was a joy and gave me the confidence to make this a regular future occurrence. Watch this space for the sequel.