by Alana Chargualaf | The Guam Daily Post | Oct 15, 2017
The number of Japanese tourists coming to Guam continues to decline, and local restaurants aren’t passing it by.
Jamaican Grill, an island favorite that is usually packed with customers, is seeing a slowdown at their Tumon location, according to co-owner Frank Kenney.
“We all know the real reason why they’re cutting back: The tourists are not coming because of what’s going on with North Korea. It’s sad. I guess that’s just how things work,” said Ray Shinohara, owner of In-and-Out BBQ.
However, Meskla, a local restaurant that caters to tourists daily, had adjusted long before United and Delta airlines announced their withdrawals of flights between Guam and Japan.
Leonard Campos, general manager of Meskla Enterprises LLC, noticed the decline six months ago and said the announcement was not a surprise, but he added that it is disappointing.
Campos said Meskla adjusted its marketing strategy four months ago in anticipation of reduced tourist arrivals from Japan.
“Our change in how we market to visitors really helped us. When we first started, 80 percent of our visitors were Japanese. That’s a big market. Now it’s less than the Korean visitors,” Campos said.
Meskla has begun targeting Guam’s Korean market by sending advertisement coupons and flyers before the tourists leave their country.
“That makes a big difference,” Campos said. "That way it’s hopefully a designation they already plan to make before they arrive.”
Campos explained that it can be difficult competing with other businesses who do a lot of marketing on the island and that Meskla Enterprises continues to jump ahead and catch the tourists before they depart for Guam.
To help gauge their marketing efforts, the restaurant keeps tab when tourists turn in their coupons. And according to Campos, business has been "very good."
Meskla has also put its marketing focus on Guam’s military patrons.
Flexibility and diligence
As far as marketing and advertising go, Campos encourages flexibility and diligence in tracking visitors’ numbers, if not weekly, then monthly, to get ahead in the game. The business sets an annual budget and allocates certain funds to their different marketing plans.
“If things get worse, you would have to almost look at increasing your marketing budget to try to compete with what’s out there,” Campos said. "As a business, we have to be concerned with what’s happening in North Korea. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.”
“We started doing the marketing outside of Guam and making sure the customers come in," said Faith Anitol, Meskla’s marketing manager. "It is a challenge, but it is also fun. We are trying our best. I think we speak for most of the restaurants here on Guam. Do the adjustments at the right time with the right people.”
Delta Airlines recently decided to halt flights between Guam and Japan beginning January 2018, and United Airlines recently announced its decision to reduce its flights for travelers coming from Japan and Manila. The Guam-Sapporo route will be discontinued after Jan. 15, 2018.
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