The travel industry is seducing customers with luxury virtual trips

While savoring the taste of a complete meal prepared by the chefs of the Excelsior Hotel Gallia, a luxury hotel located in the tourist city of Milan, the guests viewed images of tourist sites in Italy from a hotel room in Tokyo.

Beginning with a plane taking off, the 50-minute reel shows Milan Cathedral, or the Duomo di Milano, La Scala and other famous sights through the eyes of travelers.

Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho’s ‘virtual travel’ option is proving popular among guests amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The option allows customers to feel like they are visiting famous overseas resort areas by watching videos of those destinations.

The hotel, near the National Diet building in Tokyo, began offering an Italian tour in February.

Hoteliers and travel agencies are rolling out the red carpet with their ‘staycation’ packages, offering consumers the option amid the pandemic to enjoy domestic luxury accommodation instead of taking trips abroad.

As people cannot stay away from home in Japan and abroad for long due to the novel coronavirus crisis, the new style of leisure is in demand among honeymooners and others.

Prince Tokyo Kioicho Gallery extended the service periods for their previous tours in Spain and Hawaii after receiving good reviews.

Although a suite for two starts at 130,000 yen ($1,051) per night, 300 guests have booked the package since its release in January last year.

Special packages were not needed before the virus outbreak because most of its customers were business travelers, said Naoko Shibata, director of Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho.

Eighty percent of hotel guests came from outside Japan before the pandemic. Far fewer Japanese from afar have come to settle since, and many refrain from venturing out for business and tourism.

Thus, the operator has developed 30 offers – including a “sauna” service, where customers enjoy a steam bath within the establishment – ​​in the hope of appealing to consumers in the great metropolis of Tokyo and elsewhere nearby.

Hoshinoya Tokyo, an expensive hotel affiliated with Hoshino Resorts Inc. that sits near the Imperial Palace, made available a new package in March 2020 where guests can book an entire floor.

One floor has six guest bedrooms and a 50 square meter common living room to be shared by family members and friends.

Hoshinoya Tokyo initially expected to see only a few groups a year making such reservations, but 30 groups took advantage. The package apparently remains in high demand even after the base rate rose from 318,780 yen to 567,522 yen per night.

Most visitors to Hoshinoya Tokyo previously came from overseas, but many guests from elsewhere in the capital, including honeymooners, have started showing up amid the pandemic.

“Our hotel is apparently chosen as a destination rather than going on an overseas trip,” said Lee Geunju, director of Hoshinoya Tokyo.

Travel agencies are jumping on board to secure a new revenue stream that can replace that of overseas travel.

JTB Corp. introduced two gift catalogs in February featuring packages at high-end hotels and ryokan nationwide.

Guests can choose their favorite rooms from those priced at 221,100 yen or 331,100 yen per night for two, such as a suite at the Chinzanso Tokyo Hotel in the capital’s Bunkyo district.

The pricey options were created after gift catalogs for hotel packages ranging from 30,000 yen to 100,000 yen went on sale in summer 2020 and were well received.

JTB representatives said they were inundated with requests from companies wanting to present the catalogs to their employees and business partners as bonuses or gifts instead of overseas travel packages.

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