All I have to say is: “Dear Manga Factory, why would you do this to yourselves?”
Let me explain. My mother’s owned her own travel agency for decades and regularly does group trips that I accompany her on. Group trips are small nightmares. First there’s the planning aspect of things: what do you do, where do you go kind of stuff. It seems like Manga Factory has that part down, so good for them. Then there’s the getting people to fill up your space (which you have hopefully gotten from the hotels and airline way ahead of time), which takes lots of time. Many, many months, in fact, because it takes time for payments to process and to get various visas, etc. This “Escape to Tokyo” tour is leaving in a month. Eeeeeeep.Not only that, but if you don’t fill your space by certain dates, the hotels and airlines can take them away from you. Last minute seats are usually much more expensive too.
Let’s add in the facts that a) we’re in an awful economy and b) otaku usually don’t have a lot of money. Just how is this tour division going to get it’s legs off the ground? Just how is their parent company going to get it’s legs off the ground if this tour doesn’t go as well as they’ve planned?
I don’t really want to be too pessimistic here. There may be legitimate reasons for Manga Factory to hold this tour. Perhaps a large number of their staff are going to Japan for business and/or pleasure and they thought they’d do a little side business while they were there. Could drum them up some money. They may have started this idea while Aurora was still going and wanted to continue it at their new company. OK, but that’s mere speculation on my part and they could be totally playing this by ear.
They also have pretty competitive prices with their biggest rival, Digital Manga Publishing‘s Pop Japan Travel (who is also running a tour around the Tokyo Game Show.) While Pop Japan Travel’s tour is cheaper and more customizable, Manga Factory’s tour is slightly longer and offers a lot of things that Pop Japan Travel’s tour doesn’t such as butler cafes, drag queen shows and an excursion to Cosplay Festa. Actually, if I had the choice I’d go for Manga Factory’s tour, just because I’ve been to Japan before and seen most of the Tokyo sights I want to see. However, if I was going for my first time, I’d certainly want to go see more of the traditional sights that Pop Japan offers instead of focusing solely on otaku-related stuff. Manga Factory doesn’t take you anywhere interesting in that sense, until you have a free day on day 7. Every preceding day is otaku sights, otaku sights and host clubs. It’s actually a pretty rigorous tour in that sense. If this were a group run by my mother, there would be free time at the beginning of the trip to get over the nasty jet lag.
Still, this tour could be successful for Manga Factory (I’m hoping it is,) except for one issue: THERE’S ONLY ONE MONTH UNTIL THE TOUR!!!
I don’t know how many spots they have to fill, but boy am I hoping it’s a really really small number… Taking a trip overseas is expensive and even people wealthier than your average American otaku need time to think about making such a big decision. Next time, please give everyone much more than a month to sign up for your tour.
Best of luck, Manga Factory. I really want your tour to succeed and even if it doesn’t, I want you to succeed as a publisher. I’m just a blogger and a freelancer who happens to be familiar with the travel industry.
P.S. I really hope you’re not using JTB for your Ghibli museum extension because… they aren’t the greatest way to take your precious clients there. I had a fairly bad experience when I went with them and then I found out I could just buy the tickets at Lawson instead. (Seriously, they carted us around Tokyo for an hour before they took us to a train station where we waited for another hour to meet our tour guide who did absolutely nothing except take us there. Don’t use JTB for otaku stuff.)