Founder & CEO Yutaka Ishikawa
The number of foreign visitors to Japan has been increasing over the past few years for several reasons, such as the continuing depreciation of the yen, the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2020, and the softening of visa requirements. According to the announcement of the Ministry of Land, Infra-structure and Transport, during the year 2016 from January to the end of Decem-ber, the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan cumulatively reached approxi-mately 24,039,000 people, a number that has increased for the fifth year in a row. The government has set the target number of visitors and domestic consump-tion of foreigners visiting Japan to 40 million people for 8 trillion yen in 2020, and 60 million people for 15 trillion yen in 2030.
Inbound Insight is a web service developed by Nightley Inc., an IT venture founded in January 2011, which attracts considerable attention as business op-portunities related to inbound are drastically expanding. We talked to the CEO of that company, Yutaka Ishikawa.
Service screen of Inbound Insight. Trends of Chinese tourists are being visualized
Inbound Insight is a web service that analyzes the nationality, travel circum-stances and other aspects from contents posted on the SNS of foreigners visiting Japan, and visualizes their behavior patterns and preferences. The SNS we use are Twitter and Weibo, which are open platforms offering also regulations mak-ing posted data accessible. After founding the company in 2011, you started a business that analyzes the content and location information of Japanese SNS postings, and through this you cultivated “the unique technology to determine outgoing location and facility name” which represent the foundation of Inbound Insight. Where did you get the idea of this service?
"Since around 2010, when smartphones started to get used by everyone, a lot of people began to send information on where they visited. We thought that if we could collect and analyze this huge amount of location data it would be useful to provide marketing information that is beneficial to companies as well as services that make people's lives more comfortable. After that, along with the rapid increase of foreign tourists visiting Japan, the increased desire to analyze their behavior trends was the context for the development of Inbound Insight.”
Currently, Inbound Insight offers multiple plans.
First of all, the "SNS Analysis Plan" which is, as introduced above, based on SNS contribution data from foreigners visiting Japan. It offers popularity rank-ings of the facilities visited and travel routes used monthly by 22,000 people, and yearly transition data that correspond to the main 15 countries.
The next one is the "Statistical Data Plan". In cooperation with DoCoMo In-sight Marketing, we provide annual transition data for the number of foreign residents visiting Japan by prefecture that corresponds to over 50 countries
The third one is the "Data Plan on Consumption during Visits to Japan", which is based on the in‐service usage data for accommodations provided by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and provides fine-grained information on estimated consumption of foreigners visiting Japan per city, town or village. It also shows the breakdown of consumption and how many wealthy people are staying in each city, town and village.
"Station Data Plan” is a service in collaboration with the Val Laboratory, which was developed by“Ekispert”, that provides the ranking of stations popu-lar among foreigners visiting Japan and corresponds to 6 countries .
Apart from these, in collaboration with Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc., plans are prepared according to the objectives of customers, such as the "Future Forecast Data Plan" that provides the number of visitors by nationality on the whole country and for each prefecture until 2030, and the “Priority Facility Diagnosis Plan" which can analyze facilities requiring preferential inbound measures.
“So far, although companies, advertising agencies, manufacturers, municipali-ties, and other institutions tried to establish inbound measures, there was no concrete data, and only ambiguous strategies could be made, which was actually a waste of money and time.
However, by using various services of Inbound Insight, it has become possible to take more strategic measures. In other words, it is possible to formulate when, where, and what kind of merchandise will be produced for tourists from a certain country based on a backing that represents an evidence. As a result, number of failures has decreased, making it possible to maximize the use of mar-keting investment, and this aspect is highly appreciated by many of our custom-ers.
In the future, we aim to have a sales system that can propose solutions in addition to the offer of data, reinforcement of the engineers who form the basis of service development, and increase the number of companies registered in In-bound Insight free plan in relation with customer development. As of the end of 2016, the number of free plan registered companies represents approximately 4,200 companies, in the future we would like to increase that number by 2,000 to 3,000 companies per year. "
Finally I asked about the merits of starting business in Tokyo.
"In the case of our company, I think there are two strong points. First of all, the fact that it is advantageous to strengthen the organization. As I mentioned earlier, it is a policy to promote recruitment of sales personnel and engineers especially when it comes to IT industry, and excellent talents are concentrated in Tokyo. The other one is the closeness of distance with many customers. Almost all of them are located in places where you can come and go within 30 minutes to 1 hour, so you can quickly proceed with your work. In particular, I think that being at a walking distance from Shibuya Station is a big advantage."
With of course the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, no doubt that importance will be placed on inbound market in the future growth strategy of the government. In proportion to that trend, the presence of Nightley Inbound Insight should also become even bigger.