Member Focus - Mr. Brendan Delahunty, STH Japan K.K.

1.    Could you give us an overview of your company? 
Sports Travel & Hospitality (STH) Japan is a joint venture between JTB and STH Group.  STH Japan is the leading provider of sports hospitality and premium spectator experiences in Japan and was appointed the exclusive Official Hospitality provider at Rugby World Cup 2019™ and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  We have also been appointed as an Official Travel Agent in Japan for RWC 2023 in France; and have recently signed a multi-year agreement with Formula 1 for the promotion and sales of Formula 1 Paddock Club Tickets in Japan.

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2.    How did your company first become involved in the IJCC?
STH Japan first became involved in the IJCC in the buildup to the 2019 RWC. The Irish team visited Japan in 2018 for three test matches as preparation for participating in the RWC the following year. Joining the IJCC gave STH the opportunity to explain to the local Irish business community the benefits of hospitality at key sporting events. 

STH has also participated in many other IJCC events such as the Irish Business Awards, the Ambassadors Cup, as well as St Patrick Day celebrations.

3. What is your connection to Ireland?
My personal connection to Ireland is that my family on my father’s side is Irish from Kilkenny and Waterford, my brother-in-law is from Galbally in Limerick, and that I spent a year at school in Waterford when I was ten years old. I have spent a fair amount of time visiting various parts of the country and have contributed heavily to the economy through my consumption of Guinness, both inside and outside of Ireland. 

4.    How has COVID-19 pandemic changed your business in a year?
Like so many businesses in the hospitality industry, STH had to take bold action to adapt since the outset of the pandemic in early 2020. For example, the pandemic has accelerated the deployment of digital tools and systems to accommodate shifts not only in the way we work but also the way we communicate and engage with our customers.

To us, the customer remains at the centre of our long-term strategy and as such, we have revisited all aspects of the customer journey to ensure the best possible experience. From the time a customer browses packages on our website, purchases a package from one of our hospitality representatives, to the time they visit our lounge on event day, we take pride in always striving to deliver excellence in service. 

We also have strong relationships with key partners who fully understand the need to deliver a world class experience with safety always being the number one priority. Working closely with these partners has allowed us to find innovative ways to adapt to the ever changing environment we live in.

5.    What areas of growth do you see for your company (or sector) in the next 12 to 24 months?
We are in advanced talks with key international and national rights holders to supply travel packages with tickets to some of the most sought-after sporting events. STH was awarded a travel license in 2020 which has allowed us to expand our product offering and to tap into the evolving aspirations of Japanese travellers following the record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.  Currently we have travel tours on offer for sports fans who want to follow their favourite teams and players to see them in action. 

In addition, we are looking into expanding our services to other areas such as art galleries, museums, and zoos. We see an opportunity to enhance the experience for Japanese visitors by working closely with one of our shareholders, Sodexo, who have extensive experience in this area.

6.    Could you possibly give an update about your involvement with Rugby World Cup 2023?
STH Japan is one of three Official Travel Agents for RWC 2023 in France. Currently we have a number of travel packages available for some of the most popular matches such as the opening weekender between France and New Zealand  and Japan’s pool matches, including the England v Japan match in mid-September. 

Tickets are going to be hard to come by for the French tournament, which marks the 10th time Rugby World Cup has taken place and honours 200 years since the invention of the game in 1823.  I would encourage all IJCC members who are keen to travel to France for RWC to contact us early to avoid disappointment.

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