Japanese brand Prince Hotels is hoping to capitalise on the 2019 Rugby World Cup to increase its European customer base by 5%.

Currently only 10% of bookings are from European markets, with the brand having focused on a domestic audience. The aim is to increase this to 15% by the end of 2019.

It is hoped the upcoming Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020, both being held in Japan, will result in more Europeans, particularly Brits, travelling to the destination. Prince Hotels’ regional sales director for Europe Satoshi Funatogawa said he believes the brand’s knowledge of the local market will set it apart from other hotel chains.

This year Prince Hotels, which has 43 hotels in Japan, appointed Hills Balfour as its UK PR company as part of its efforts to raise awareness in this market.

Funatogawa said the brand had worked with tour operators across Europe for some time, but the focus was now on raising awareness with consumers and that was central to Hills Balfour’s remit.

“The UK is our leading market in Europe,” Funatogawa said. “Every year since the earthquake in 2011 we have achieved growth and while we have been predominately an Asian orientated brand we have seen a lot of growth in the European markets.

“Europe currently makes up 10% as a total but I believe we will increase this to 15%, especially with the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympic Games the year after. The rugby provides a big opportunity for Europe in particular, whereas the Olympic Games will see the world arrive in Tokyo.

“We’re working to raise our profile in the UK and we think it’s a brand which will perform well here.”

Speaking about the experiences offered in Prince Hotels’ properties, he added:

“We can offer our guests true insight into what the locals in Japan are doing, and we can help them get access to these experiences.

“Having these insider tips is definitely a key message for us.”

Travel Weekly coverage of World Travel Market