JTB Meetings & Events: Event Producer Interview #4
In this interview series we want to introduce you to our internationally oriented staff members here at JTB Meetings & Events by JTB Communication Design (JCD). This way you can get a better idea of the variety of people working at JCD and their backgrounds, giving you a more personal glimpse of who you might be working with if you decide to make use of our meetings & events services. So far we have introduced you to event producers Takahiro Yoneyama, Haruna Enomoto, and Rie Sasaki. This week we’re talking to Account Sales & Project Manager, Hiroaki Yanagisawa, who brings decades of experience to our team.
Who are you and what do you do at JCD?
My name is Hiroaki Yanagisawa. I have been in the events industry for well over 20 years, working for one of the companies that was merged into JCD in 2016 (ICS), and JCD since then. While I also have experience with public events such as the World Expo, I mainly focus on corporate events at the moment. Some of the sectors I focus on are IT, insurance companies, banks, and thinktanks. I handle a lot of international projects as well, although right now those take place largely online.
Have you spent a lot of time abroad?
In my twenties I lived in Perth, Australia, for about a year and a half, mostly to study English. Aside from that I have visited countries all over the world for work dozens and dozens of times. From the United States and Europe to South East Asia and the Middle East. Since these were business trips to plan and manage events, they usually last for only half a week to a week.
What sort of work have you done with international clients? Can you share some examples of an experience that left a strong impression?
One of the most memorable events was this event for a major international client where we reserved one of the most famous temples in Tokyo. I was the chief event manager on that project. Another big project was for one of the world’s major consumer electronics & technology companies. It was a private show but attended by around 10.000 special clients. This event lasted for 2 days but was very lavish. Our main task was setting up all the infrastructure for the booths and an enormous screen. This event was specifically challenging because we received the inquiry 6 months before the event date, while usually an event of this scale requires 1-2 years of preparation. Nevertheless, we managed to pull it off and it was a successful event.
I have been in this business for a long time, but I mostly remember the events that were the most challenging, because you learn from them. A long time ago I worked on a large-scale award ceremony. As the event went on, there was a video loop of flashbacks of the biggest award winners from earlier in the evening. As the deadline to start playing the video got closer, we ran into tech problems, and for a couple minutes it seemed like we weren’t going to able to make it in time. Luckily, thanks to our hard-working team we managed to resolve it at the very last moment. Of course the audience had no idea of what went on behind the scenes. I apologized over and over again to the client, but they were totally satisfied with how it turned out.
I also clearly remember that at one time, in order to bid for an international to be held in Japan, we had to record a message from then Prime Minister Koizumi. So we went to the Prime Minster’s office on short notice to shoot it. Since I was still young, one of the Cabinet’s representatives was wondering out loud whether or not such a young guy could actually do this properly. But even though it took five or six takes, it the recording went very well, and we successfully sent it out in time.
Lastly, I’ve also worked on a Star Wars celebration event in the Makuhari Messe, one of Japan’s largest convention centers. We worked together with the people from LucasFilm and countless Star Wars fans gathered. This was a great learning experience for handling a major public event rather than a corporate event.
What have you learned through your international experience?
Working on the World Expo in Japan in 2005 was a lot of fun. Among other things we were the coordinator of the National Days. Each country had its own special days where they showcased their culture through performances. This of course also included parties with local food and drinks. Through these experiences I interacted with people from a lot of different countries and learned a ton about their cultures. On top of that, by going abroad so many times, my English improved a lot. Especially when you visit places where you have no choice but to use English all of the time. You learn by doing, and now I can put that to use whenever we have foreign clients.
Why should foreign companies come to Japan and why should they work with JCD?
Japan has a ton of culture, countless unique venues, and amazing food. This is where you can truly have a ‘Far East’ experience in its purest form. Although there are other popular destinations in Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong that may appear more accessible language-wise, Japan is a large country and has such a many-sided culture to offer. As for the potential language barrier, that is exactly where JCD can step in. We are a very accessible company with many English speakers as well as native-level non-Japanese staff. We are also connected to the wide JTB network of accommodation and travel, so feel free to reach out with your RFP’s and we can discuss all the services we have on offer with very reasonable pricing!
We hope you enjoyed reading about Yanagisawa-san’s story, and how he is putting her international and intercultural experiences to good use as an event planner here at JCD in Japan. We have many more interesting interviews like this in store for you, so keep an eye on our website and social media. If you are looking to get in touch with our varied and experienced team of event planners, or have any questions at all, make sure to contact us here!