Toyo Keiyama - Owner of BRCJP/New Place agency
Industry Faces
Owner of a family-run business, a UK specialist agency in Tokyo, Toyo reflects on changes in the industry, the enduring importance of agents and the value of industry networking.

Introduction

The agency was established by my sister, and I took over a few years ago. The British Tourism Authority helped us to found this company. We work with other destinations as well, but I like the UK very much. The schools there are of a high quality, and they don't discount too much. Schools and agencies have to work together to make a profit. We are a small, family-run business, and we are happy at our current level. My aim is not to get bigger and bigger.

 

Important lessons

Everyone says we are living in a global society, and we contribute to that. To know the world, it is important to understand our neighbours in other countries, and this industry is on the frontline of that. This business is not a huge money-making industry, but it plays an important soft power role.

 

Proudest achievements

There was a student that I took a lot of time to counsel. He came back to me and said, "I cannot express how it totally changed my life." He wanted law firm experience in the UK, and I arranged this. He has now established his own firm doing overseas business and is still connected with the people he met.

 

Value of agent events

It is our great pleasure attending workshops to see other agents from other countries. Of course, we often see our friendly Japanese competitors. But it's also nice to know agents from different countries and to realise the different features of the agency sectors in those other countries.

 

Daily work

The most time-consuming thing is making quotes. For every student we probably do three to five. We have hundreds of price lists and all schools are slightly different. It takes time to counsel students, but I want them to take their time, go away and do their research.

 

The future

We have a declining birth rate in Japan, so the customer base is shrinking. But the agency service is essential. Students want support before, during and after study. They worry whether an online agency or booking service can do this.

 

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