- Why spend money on a consultant when I can do everything by myself online?
Sure, you can plan your Japan trip by yourself. Most of the information you need is somewhere online. The problem is finding the right information and putting it all together. We have spent decades living and working in Japan and traveling the length of the archipelago to find the best spots. Unlike anonymous online reviewers, when we recommend something, we know it’s truly special. For the cost of one decent meal in Tokyo, you will access several lifetimes of deep Japan experience.
- How does JTC work?
JTC is a team of freelance Japan travel consultants led by Chris Rowthorn. When you first email JTC, Chris will help you choose the consultant who can best help you plan your trip. Chris will help you choose between voice consulting, email consulting and full trip planning (see below for details on these). Chris will then put you directly in touch with the best consultant for your needs. Once you are in touch with your consultant, you deal directly with that consultant. All payments are via PayPal (you do not need a PayPal account to make a payment).
- What is voice consulting?
Voice consulting is consulting via phone, Skype, Facetime or other voice app. It’s billed at ¥10,000 (about US$89 or €75) per hour and the normal voice consultation lasts 45 minutes and costs ¥7,500 (about US$67 or €57). In voice consulting, the consultant answers your questions and gives advice and recommendations, with one follow-up summary email, but does not produce a full itinerary.
- What is email consulting?
Email consulting is consulting via email. It’s billed at ¥10,000 (about US$89 or €75) per hour and the normal email consultation lasts one hour (but can vary widely according to complexity and number of follow-up questions). In email consulting, the consultant answers your questions and gives advice and recommendations, but does not produce a full itinerary. Email consulting is good for people who find it difficult to schedule phone or Skype calls.
- What is full trip planning?
In full trip planning the consultant actually produces a full itinerary for you but does not actually book hotels, flights, transport, etc (you book these online based on our recommendations). It usually starts with a phone or Skype call and then proceeds by email. It is billed at ¥15,000 (about US$133 or €113) per hour. A typical one-week trip to Japan usually takes about seven hours to plan, but this can vary significantly according to complexity, trip length, special research required and the number of follow-up questions.
- Which is best for me, voice consulting, email consulting or full trip planning?
For a high-level discussion of your trip and suggestions about where to go, what to do, how to get around and where to stay, voice consulting or email consulting is best. It’s also good if you just have a few short questions. If you want more help planning your trip or if you feel overawed by the task of planning your own trip (or simply don’t have time), then full trip planning is for you.
- If we start with voice/email consulting, can we switch to full trip planning later on?
This depends on the consultant. In some cases, a consultant will be happy to offer full trip planning after starting with voice or email consulting. In others, he or she may not be able to offer full trip planning (usually due to schedule limits). In such cases, one of our other consultants can usually take over and offer full trip planning.
- Do I choose a consultant? Or, do you choose one for me?
Normally, Chris will choose a consultant for you, based on your email communications with him. But, of course, you can always choose which consultant you will work with, provided your consultant of choice is available at that time.
- How long does full trip planning take?
It takes about 7 hours to plan a normal one-week or 10-day trip to Japan. However, this can vary widely, based on the number of follow-up questions and the need for special research. We will keep you updated about how much time we are spending. We normally bill every two hours and provide a detailed summary of how we’ve spent our time. Thus, there are no surprises and you know exactly what you are paying for. And, if you’d like, we can provide an estimate at the start of the process.
- How much does full trip planning cost?
An average full trip planning takes 7 hours. This is billed at ¥15,000 (about US$133 or €113) per hour. Thus, an average trip planning costs ¥105,000 (about US$932 or €793). As noted above, this can vary widely based on the number of follow-up questions and the need for special research.
- How do I pay for consulting?
All payments are via PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to make a payment.
- How do I get started?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include as much information as possible. The more information we have, the better we can match you with the ideal consultant for you, and the more efficiently we can work once we get started. Here is some information you might include:
- When do you plan to go to Japan?
- If you have specific dates already, please let us know. Likewise, if you already have flights reserved, please let us know your arrival and departure dates and airport.
- How many people will be in your group? Please include age, gender, dietary preferences, level of fitness and any other important notes.
- Is this your first time to Japan? If not, when and where did you go?
- What places would you like to visit?
- What things would you like to do?
- What is your style of travel? Luxury, budget or midrange? Famous places or off-the-beaten-track places? Fast or slow?
- Do you like hiking or cycling?
- Are you interested in hot springs and public baths?
- What is your nightly accommodation budget (a range is best for this, any currency is okay, we can convert)?
- What type of hotels do you like (business, luxury, boutique, etc)?
- Would you like to try a ryokan (Japanese inn)?
- Are you adventurous eaters?
- Would you like to try an onsen (hot spring)? Are you comfortable with nudity in gender-segregated baths?
- How do you like to communicate? Options include email, phone, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp. Please include relevant information like phone numbers, Skype names etc.
- If you want to do voice consulting, what is the best time to reach you?Please include your time zone and a few convenient time slots.
- Any other notes that you think will help us plan a great trip for you.