Inbound travel operator and travel agency intermediary Freeplus has come up with a clever way to engage international travel agents with information about Japan, while simultaneously allowing local prefectures the ability to share information directly with agents.
The friction that exists when selling travel to a country such as Japan is greatly reduced by the web portal, called Japan Timeline, which offers an interactive overview into the various activities, geographies and nuances of the country. The site's slogan is "See What's Happening in Japan Now," underlining the continually updated nature of the site.
The timeline comes into play as the most recently updated pages will sit at the top of the homepage, showing the latest changes to the Japan Timeline. Each page will also have its own timeline
From the company:
Japan Timeline is a website where the 47 prefectural governments in Japan provide local tourism information to travel agencies around the world. This site is designed for overseas travel agencies, but anyone can access the site and get information about Japanese tourism.
They can post information about their local tourist spots, festivals and photos (royalty-free) and also edit their information by themselves. Basic information about tourist spots will not be changed, but prefectural governments can update the latest information about "what is happening now" through the timeline.
By allowing each of the 47 prefectures' governments to share hyper-local information, travel agents (even those outside of Freeplus' network of 1,000 agencies) can be more confident in creating itineraries that bring in more than the usual suspects. Each prefecture has a section on the site, encouraging more exploration and understanding of hyper-local cultures.
The well-designed website is what makes this story newsworthy, as it does a better job at educating the user about Japan than some travel sites do about the places they are selling. And while the content is still growing, as more contributions come in, there really is a lot of useful information for travel agents looking to curate the ideal trips for clients.
Each individual tourist spot has a page with further information on it, including a website and phone number as available. The map and weather also offer a useful accompaniment to proper itinerary creation.
Beyond individual attractions, the site also allows tour creation, where a multi-day itinerary is shared.
The website offers up the information in several languages, such as Indonesian, Thai, Chinese and Korean, solidyfing the value proposition beyond just tour agents but also visitors seeking comprehensive information about Japan.
Overall, a very interesting product created for a clear subset of travel agents - but offering a widespread utility that might just encourage more agents to join in with Freeplus as a Japan expert.