It goes without saying that the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, was one of the worst natural disasters of modern times – images of the tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster were relayed around the world and imprinted upon millions. A true low point for the Japanese nation.
It was also one the costliest natural disasters in history, causing damage worth an estimated $235 billion. With weeks of subsequent blackouts, loss of public transportation, and food shortages, businesses around the country suffered -- but none more so than those servicing foreign visitors and residents, who fled the country in their tens of thousands.
At that time I was the publisher of Japan's largest English-language community magazine, and it wasn't hard to see a perfect storm brewing. Fleeing readers would soon mean no sponsors, and I realized that I not only needed to react, I needed to seize the moment to re-cast the very core of our content business. I chose tourism as the new focus because it had been so badly hit, and set about with a very talented group of programmers from a group company called MetroWorks, to rebuild the way content gets published.
A few months later, we released a crowdsourcing/crowd management software platform called ACQ, and using it, we launched a travel site called 'JapanTourist.jp' in November 2011.
During 2012 we put a huge amount of work into creating content, finding others to help us, and refining our software. Luckily many others were thinking they'd like to help the inbound tourism recovery effort as well, and soon we had a community of more than 500 dedicated writers and photographers, all helping to share the charms of one of the most unique and interesting destinations in the world. Their only incentives were the satisfaction of getting the word out that Japan was not done for, and of course our points-and-rewards system offering modest hotel stays around the country.
In December 2013 we switched to a dot com domain, established the Japan Travel company, and rebranded the site in to its current form, www.japantravel.com. Thanks to the power of community, the efficiency of the ACQ2 platform, and generally good luck regarding Japan's booming inbound travel sector, the Japan Travel businss took off and has since become a leader in the space.
Today, we have three major businesses: our evergreen portal supported by almost 30,000 contributors and visited by more than one million people a month; a real-world, licenced (Type 2) travel agency specializing in groups, luxury, and adventure tours; and a software integration business working with mostly Japanese firms with stacks of services inventory but no way of connecting with inbound consumers. As a result, we have become Japan's primary "go-to" resource for inbound travel information, services, and technology.
Terrie Lloyd(テリー・ロイド） May 2017
Founder of over 17 start-ups in Japan.
Specialties are business development, problem solving, recruiting talent, sales, and networking.
When not running Japan Travel and MetroWorks, Lloyd does cross-border consulting for tech start-ups, mostly for companies from the Americas and Oceania.
Services include management consulting about the market entry process, partner search, back office operations, and nominee directorship.
Born in New Zealand. Naturalized as Australian in Sydney Town Hall in 1982.
Has lived in Japan for 30+ years. Married to Kumiko, who hails from Kyushu. Has four daughters and one son: Yukie, Niki, Eva, Leo and Monica.
Hobbies include: starting companies, concocting health drinks, writing, traveling, and riding road bikes around Japan.
You can reach him at terrie at japantravel dot com.