Word of Mouth

Dr. Robert King, director of conference services, American Academy of Advertising, Richmond, Virginia

The American Academy of Advertising recently established a series of Asia-Pacific conferences to complement its annual conference series in North America. Its very first in the series was held in 2001 in Japan, and the organization returned again in 2003.

Q: WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE JAPAN FOR YOUR FIRST ASIA-PACIFIC CONFERENCE?

A: It was Japan's comparative "mystique" that contributed to its selection for our first 2001 event in the region. Subsequently, I was delighted by the level of support and understanding given to us by staff members at a local convention and visitors bureau and also a local convention center in planning our event. We could not have hoped for greater cooperation. Two words characterize my reaction to Japanese work ethics: cooperation and accuracy. Obviously, business practices in Japan differ somewhat from those in the U.S., and this was my first experience in Japan...but from the beginning, there was a mutually shared feeling of trust and confidence among us.

Q: DID YOU HAVE ANY LANGUAGE OR COST PROBLEMS DURING YOUR EVENT IN JAPAN?

A: We initially - and incorrectly - expected distance, cost and language barriers to be obstacles. But cooperation from local convention bureau, combined with careful cost control by our association, basically eliminated these potential problems. Also, we offered our Japanese event as a "package" to our attendees, much like an organized tour. In effect, we cared for our attendees to the degree that costs and language concerns were largely absent.

Q: DID ATTENDEES GET TO SEE A LOT OF THE COUNTRY AND EXPERIENCE JAPANESE CULTURE?

A: Most of our American participants limited their stay in Japan to only two or three days beyond the schedule of our conference, although a small number enjoyed extended travel. Since most of our attendees were first-time visitors to Japan, we deliberately included some limited touring and cultural events in our program. I believe that our personal experiences encouraged and prepared us for more extended travel in Japan on our next visit there.

Q: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE OVERALL EXPERIENCE OF PLANNING AN EVENT IN JAPAN?

A: We were extremely pleased with our first experience in Japan. Attendance exceeded our expectations, and I heard only words of praise for the facilities and events. From this planner's point of view, it was a delight to find initial cost estimates to be absolutely on target. There were no bad surprises. We were so pleased with the outcome of our initial experiences in Japan that we returned to the same venue in 2003, with equally good results.

© Meeting and Convention Magazine

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