Japanese travel startup Trippiece launches English version and a Singapore subsidiary

Japanese travel startup Trippiece launches English version and a Singapore subsidiary

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See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based travel startup Trippiece announced today that it has launched an English version to assist international travelers visiting Japan. Since its launch back in 2011, it has been serving Japanese users. Now with the launch of this English version the company hopes to establish a global user base.

Shuying-Yao
Singapore-based marketing manager Shuying Yao

Prior to launch, they established a subsidiary in Singapore, hiring Shuying Yao as overseas marketing manager. She will be committed to user engagement and marketing in Asian regions. They currently have no plan to serve languages other than English.

Trippiece allows you to create a travel plan and gather others who are keen to join. There is a troublesome chicken/egg issue when you launch on a web service of this kind. That is, if there are no travel plans on the platform, you cannot invite more users. And without users, you cannot have travel plans. The company’s founder and CEO Ian Ishida has learned a lot about this issue, having experienced it when they launched the original Japanese version. He explained how they will try to avoid it this time around:

To ensure the quality of the travel plans we provide, we will ask selected foreigners living in Japan to create their travel plans. If they can lead a tour, other foreign visitors will not need to worry about a language issue when taking that tour.

But if we depend only on our users’ efforts in having a solid collection of travel plans, we won’t be able to form a community of users. So we will make about 30 travel plans by the launch of the English edition. We’re not interested in how many international users we can acquire, but we aim to have 1,000 users traveling to Japan using our website six months from now.

In this space, we’ve also seen many competitors like Asoview, Voyagin, PlayLife, and Trip. Trippiece has a relatively long history, but how can they stand out from the others? Ishida explained:

Our uniqueness is that we create an opportunity for experience. A travel plan will be executed just once, in contrast with other services which usually sell their tours or plans multiple times. What we do is help users establish a social graph through travel, rather than just helping them travel.

Consequently, some of their users have voluntarily organized a club for diving lovers, for example. Others could find boyfriends and girlfriends through a tour they have attended.

In Japan, central and local governments have been committed to cultivating the so called MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) market needs, with the aim of surpassing 20 million international travelers annually to Japan heading towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With that in mind, Trippiece plans to acquire over 10,000 users who will use the website and visit Japan a year from now.

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Masaru started his career as a programmer/engineer, and previously co-founded several system integration companies and consulting firms. He’s been traveling around Silicon Valley and Asia exploring the IT industry, and he also curates event updates for the Tokyo edition of Startup Digest.