TOKYO -- Japanese hotel and resort operator Fujita Kanko recently expanded its membership services to foreign visitors. Members are entitled to discounts on hotel rooms and points that can be redeemed at various locations. Riding on the country's tourism boom, the company aims to build its reputation among repeat visitors to Japan.
Foreign tourists can apply for the Fujita Kanko Group Members Card either online or in person at the group's member hotels. Previously, the scheme was only open to residents.
Members can book rooms at the group's hotel chains, including the Washington and Gracery brands, at a discounted rate on the service's website. They are also awarded 4 points for every 100 yen (89 cents) spent at the group's facilities. Reservations made through the website earn 6 points per 100 yen.
Points can be used for payment at a bonus rate. For example, 1,000 points will be worth 1,500 yen. The card does not have a credit-card function, but can be used as a chargeable smart payment card.
In addition, a free, one-hour check out time extension is available exclusively for foreign visitors at certain hotels.
Earlier this year, Fujita Kanko launched an English website for the service. Other languages, including Chinese and Korean, will be available soon. The business also plans to start providing useful travel tips on the website this month, including lists of sightseeing and shopping spots.
The operator is also preparing to launch a smartphone app for the service in foreign languages, as well as a system allowing members to enjoy the benefits without carrying the membership card.
The service is designed to raise the profile of the operator's key chains, which are relatively unknown brands among foreign tourists.
Tourism booms, demand slows
In October, annual foreign arrivals in Japan topped 20 million for the first time ever. However, the growth in demand for hotels and other types of accommodation appears to be on the wane.
According to the government's tourism agency, the aggregate number of nights spent by foreign tourists in Japan came to 5.8 million in August, on a preliminary data basis. It was down 3.6% on the year.
People making repeat visits to the country typically arrange trips individually, rather than choosing package tours. These frequent visitors tend to choose hotels by location and room rate. Luring repeat visitors is becoming crucial for operators of mid-range hotels like Fujita Kanko.
Other Japanese operators will likely introduce similar services in an attempt to take advantage of the boom of foreign tourists.