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Japan64 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 65People use Osaka City Station each day,OSAKA CONVENTION BUREAU2.5MLanguageCarrying out business negotiations in English is predicted to be a problem by buyers and organisers, who expect the international language of business to be English. In fact, the Japanese education system requires that people leaving high school at 18 will have six years of grounding in English, and longer for university graduates. People attracted to the hospitality industry generally tend to have a deep interest in communication and the result is that front-line staff and sales teams are competent users of English.Cost performanceIt is arguable that overcoming the perception of high cost continues to be a challenge for the Japanese MICE industry. In reality, planners who look at European and North American prices find that Japan is highly competitive in the international market. The Japanese room rental system is different from other countries in that preparation time is chargeable as is extended use, but these are technicalities that are viewed in the context of the whole meeting package and can be negated by negotiation. Japanese hotels treat function rooms and guestrooms as completely different entities. The result is that accommodation and function space have different accounts within the business. A buyer planning a MICE event in a single property, however, will have negotiating power across the whole package.Hotels are heavily affected by seasonality in the domestic travel market. For Kyoto, particularly the autumn colours viewing season in November and the cherry blossom celebrations in April, as well as the Japanese holiday period in May, are difficult times to obtain accommodation in the city. Planners who are looking for low prices on meeting facilities should also avoid weekends as hotels generally tend to be fully booked with wedding parties at the weekends. Buyers are encouraged to have a realistic view of the level of costs they expect to face in Japan and choose weekdays for controlling meeting space cost.International businessDoing business successfully in Japan would mean an understanding and a respect for its time honoured business etiquette and practice. Japanese people prefer that time is taken in building relationships, therefore suppliers may seem cool at first contact. Allow appropriate time to set up an event. If an event must be held during the autumn domestic high season planners should be prepared to work at least a year in advance to secure accommodation blocks. The expansion into the international MICE market is a relatively new venture and still very much under development but gaining experience fast. Time spent researching the market prior to contacting suppliers is sure to set you in good stead for success. Overcoming the perceived hurdles of doing business in Japan. Kyoto CVB tips: It is 50km from Kansai International Airport and is easily accessible from most parts of the world. Japan's first budget airline has been announced, PEACH, which will take flight early next year and will operate out of Kansai International Airport. The airline will initially serve Japan and Korea but will make the city more attractive.Kent said: "Logic dictates that if PEACH makes the region more accessible to Asian attendees, the bid papers of Kansai region cities (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara) become even stronger."Osaka's meeting gemsBeing a large city with a population of 18m, Osaka offers the usual high rise modern hotel products with ample meeting space, Hilton Osaka has 525 bedrooms with a variety of meeting options, its largest room is 4155sqft. The Rhiga Royal Hotel Osaka can also host up to 3,000 guests for events.Osaka Convention Center, also nicknamed the Grand Cube, as all its rooms are designed floor above floor in a high rise building, has space to host up to 2,754 people. For organisers looking for something different for their event, the Panasonic Centre is a museum offering insight into its business eco ideas for the earth and can host groups tours of its facilities.The Yamamoto Noh Theatre in the middle of the city also offers a different experience for guests from a traditional Noh performance show to a lecture or workshop course or stage tours for groups.Kyoto and Osaka are packed with meeting possibilities, with the traditional complementing the new. whether it is a large event or more intimate, traditional or modern, cultural or basic, there are many possibilities.And the convention bureaus are adamant "it's business as usual".

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