H.I.S. Co., Ltd.

Shinjuku Oak Tower 29F
6-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, 163-6029
Japan
Telephone: (+81 3) 590-820-70
Web site: https://www.his.co.jp/english/

Public Company
Founded:
1980 as International Tours Co., Ltd.
Incorporated: 1990 as H.I.S. Co. Ltd.
Employees: 16,932
Sales: ¥606.02 billion ($5.25 billion) (2017)
Stock Exchanges: Tokyo
Ticker Symbol: 9603
NAICS: 561510 Travel Agencies

H.I.S. Co., Ltd., is a leading travel and tourism company in Japan, with a focus especially on providing services and accommodations to Japanese travelers. The company operates in a total of 305 cities in 71 countries, through a network of 556 branch offices, as of 2018. The company's travel agency operations are carried out through a number of subsidiaries, including the U.K.-based Group Miki Holdings Ltd.; Japan Holiday Travel Co. Ltd., focused on the Chinese markets; Orion Tour Co., Ltd., which specializes in sports and other themed vacation and tour products; Ohshu Express Ltd., a train booking service; Quality Co., providing high-end and premium travel services; Cruise Planet Co., Ltd., which specializes in cruise ship vacations; Tour Wave Co., Ltd., a packaged tour operator; Interpark Tour Japan Co., Ltd., providing Japanese-based tours to Korean travelers; and Activity Japan Co., Ltd., an operator of a reservation platform for H.I.S. and other travel and tourism providers.

The company also operates a chain of specialty travel-oriented retail stores, featuring products and information about locations such as Hawaii, Europe, and Okinawa, Japan. Another branch, Avanti & Oasis, specializes in wedding planning, including destination wedding services. Besides its core travel agency business, H.I.S. operates hotels and resorts under brand names including Watermark Hotels, Green World Hotels, Guam Reef & Olive Spa Resort, Laguna Ten Bosch, and Henn na Hotel, the world's first hotel staffed by robots. The company's Theme Park Business is primarily focused on the Dutch-themed Huis Ten Bosch park. The company also operates bus and trolley services and chartered airline services. Ancillary businesses include the subsidiary H.I.S. Super Power Co., Ltd., a renewable energy-based power generation company; HTB Energy Co., originally founded to provide electric power services to the Huis Ten Bosch theme park; and Hapi Robo St. Inc., a robotics company. Hideo Sawada is H.I.S.'s chairman.

FOUNDING: 1980

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES

Corporate Philosophy: To work in accordance with the laws of the universe and contribute to the creative development of humanity and world peace.

The company started out as a reseller for packaged tours developed and organized by major branded tour operators. With demand soaring during the 1980s, the company grew quickly, and opened its first branch office, in Osaka, in 1984. By the end of that year, sales had already reached ¥12 million. Other branches followed, including in Nagoya and Fukuoka in 1986, and in the Shimbashi area of Tokyo and elsewhere through the end of the decade. The company took its first step internationally when it opened an office in Hong Kong in 1985 to cater to the growing number of Japanese tourists visiting that emerging financial capital. The company also expanded its range of travel services after it received its license to operate as a full-scale general travel agency in 1986.

By the end of the decade, the company was ready to branch out into organizing its own tour packages. The new business started out with a tour to Italy and a package dubbed Ciao. At the same time, the company expanded into other related areas, such as wedding planning services (especially for destination weddings), launched at the group's Shimbashi office under the name Avanti & Oasis in 1989. The company's sales reached ¥16.3 billion that year, and ¥23.4 million the following year.

H.I.S.: 1990

In 1990 the company adopted a new name, H.I.S. Co., Ltd., and joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as an official IATA accredited agency. The company expanded beyond the tourism market that year, launching its corporate travel services division. H.I.S. also invested in emerging information technologies, installing its computer-based WING system that year.

In 1993 the company moved to a modern headquarters, in Tokyo's Shinjuku district, to accommodate its growing range of businesses. These included a dedicated Group Tour division, created in 1991, and Travel Wonderland, a retail concept focused on marketing international travel packages and services. H.I.S. quickly rolled out the Travel Wonderland concept across its growing network, which by then included agencies in Chubu, Kansai, and Kyushu. In 1994 Travel Wonderland was designated as the company's flagship store for its regional operations.

In 1995, as its sales approached the ¥100 billion mark, H.I.S. went public with a listing on Japan's over-the-counter market in order to prepare for its further growth. This came in 1996, when the company completed its expansion into Japan's eastern region. That year, the company launched its first hotel operations, starting with the opening of the Watermark Hotel in Gold Coast, a popular Australian destination for Japanese tourists. At the same time, H.I.S. launched the rapid expansion of its travel agency network, which reached 100 locations by 1998. H.I.S. also founded its own airline in 1996, called Skymark, which began offering its first flights linking Haneda airport in Tokyo to tourism destinations in Fukuoka in 1998. Skymark Airlines was subsequently sold to Shinichi Nishikubo, who had made his fortune as a pioneer of Japan's internet market, in 2003.

Another extension to the company's business came in 2000, when the company began offering specialized sports-oriented vacations through subsidiary Howa Travel Service, which was later rebranded as Orion Tours. The following year, H.I.S. launched its first international charter services. At the same time, the company invested in more specialized travel services, adding Cruise Planet, dedicated to cruise ship vacations, and a specialty travel counter at Travel Wonderland locations in 2002.

ACQUISITIONS

H.I.S.'s revenues soared past ¥200 billion in 2000, and to nearly ¥300 billion by 2005. This growth earned the company a listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, starting with the exchange's second section in 2003, before moving to its first section in 2004. The company used its expanded capital to continue building up both its domestic and international agency networks, with the former reaching 200 locations and the latter 50, by 2005.

KEY DATES
1980:
The company is founded as International Tours Co., Ltd., in Tokyo.
1990:
The company changes its name to H.I.S. Co.
2004:
H.I.S. shares are listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section.
2012:
H.I.S. acquires GM Communications and its Miki Travel and Miki Tourist subsidiaries.
2018:
The acquisition of Jonview Canada from Transat A.T. Inc. is completed.

At the same time, H.I.S. began pursuing a more acquisition-driven growth strategy. In 2005, for example, the company acquired Kyushu Industrial Transportation Co., Ltd., in its bid to provide bus tourism services. In 2008 the company acquired an 80 percent stake in a joint venture with Shanghai Airlines Holiday Tours Co. in order to attract Japanese tourists to Hainan Province, China. Other acquisitions in 2008 included the sales network of ATB, an international travel provider founded as Map International Co., Ltd., in 2000. Also in 2008, the company acquired Ohshu Express Ltd., founded in 1995 as a specialist provider of international train travel services, such as for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express lines.

H.I.S. entered the theme park business in 2010 when it acquired Huis Ten Bosch, established in 1992 in Sasebo, on Kyushu Island in Nagasaki Prefecture. The theme park centered around a replica of the Huis Ten Bosch palace in The Hague, one of the official residences of the Dutch royal family, and other Dutchinspired buildings and features. Crippled from debt taken on to build the massive project, Huis Ten Bosch had fallen into bankruptcy in 2003. As part of H.I.S., Huis Ten Bosch rebounded, posting its first profits in 2011. The company also announced plans to add casinos to the park by 2021, in a bid to transform Sasebo into an international rival to Monaco.

In 2011 the company made Japan Holiday Travel a subsidiary. This was followed in 2012 by the purchase of GM Communications Limited, which, through its U.K.-based subsidiary Miki Travel, was one of the leading providers of travel and tourism services to Japanese travelers coming to Europe. The addition of GM Communications, which included its Japanese-based wing, Miki Tourist Co., helped raise the company's total number of overseas offices past 150 by 2015, and to 200 by 2016. The acquisition also played a part in driving the company's revenues up to ¥430 billion by the end of 2012, and again to ¥523.7 billion in 2016.

NEW BUSINESSES

Besides its acquisitions, H.I.S. continued to pursue a flurry of new businesses as it consolidated its position as Japan's leading international travel group. The company created its own cruise operator, HTB Cruise Co., Ltd., in 2011, launching its first chartered cruise service aboard the Costa Victoria in 2013. The company returned to air travel, setting up a chartered airline in Thailand in 2012. H.I.S. also developed new products for the premium and luxury travel markets, launching the Qualita and Class One brands in 2011.

H.I.S.'s hotel and resort business grew as well, adding Watermark hotels in Nagasaki in 2012 and in Jimbaran, Bali, in 2015. The company also added the Guam Reef & Olive Spa Resort in 2013, and launched Laguna Ten Bosch Co., Ltd., to develop resort accommodations near the Huis Ten Bosch theme park. The company also began construction of its Henn na Hotel, which claimed to be the first in the world staffed entirely by robots when it opened on the Huis Ten Bosch site in 2016. In 2017 the company extended the concept to a second location, the Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay. In that year, the company created a new holding company for its growing hotel division, called H.I.S. Hotel Holdings Co., Ltd.

H.I.S. also invested in the online sales market, launching its hisgo e-commerce site. By 2014 the hisgo platform had been expanded to 39 countries. The company also teamed up with ANA Sales Co., Ltd., to create another travel sales venture, H.I.S. ANA Navigation Japan Co., Ltd. This was followed by a new joint venture in China, this time with online operator Ly. com, in 2016. In that year, the company extended its online presence with a joint venture with Interpark, one of South Korea's leading online mall operators, called Interpark Japan Co., Ltd.

H.I.S. entered 2018 with a fresh acquisition under its belt, when it paid CAD 44 million ($34 million) to acquire Jonview Canada, the leading incoming tour operator in Canada, focused especially on the Toronto and Montreal markets, from parent Transat A.T. Inc. By that time, H.I.S. had raised its total revenues past ¥606 billion ($5.25 billion), establishing the company as a Japanese, and increasingly global, travel and tourism leader.

M. L. Cohen

PRINCIPAL SUBSIDIARIES

Activity Japan Co., Ltd.; Cruise Planet Co. Ltd.; Group Miki Holdings Ltd. (UK); H.S. Insurance Co., Ltd.; Hide International Services (H.I.S. Maroc) SARL (Morocco); Huis Ten Bosch Co., Ltd.; Interpark Tour Japan Co., Ltd.; Japan Holiday Travel Co. Ltd.; Kyushu Sangyo Kotsu Holdings Co., Ltd.; Laguna Ten Bosch Co., Ltd.; Merit Travel Group Inc. (Canada); Ohshu Express Ltd.; Orion Tour Co., Ltd.; PT Harum Indah Sari Tours & Travel (Indonesia); Quality Co.; Tour Wave Co., Ltd.; Watermark Hotel Group Pty Ltd.

PRINCIPAL DIVISIONS

Inbound Travel Business; Outbound Travel Business; Domestic Travel Business; Theme Park Business; Electric Power Business; Hotel Business; Robot Business.

FURTHER READING

“GoFro On-Boards H.I.S. Japan as Investor & Strategic Partner.” TravelBiz Monitor, September 13, 2017.

“H.I.S. Achieves Record First Half Results.” JCN Newswire, June 6, 2014.

“Japan Tourist Company to Accept Bitcoin as Payment Method through Bitflyer.” Crypto-Live, September 23, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2018. http://www.crypto-live.com/2017/09/japan-tourist-company-to-accept-bitcoin-as-payment-method-through-Bitflyer.html .

Kikuchi, Daisuke. “‘Strange’ Hotel, Run by Robots, Opens near Tokyo; More to Come.” Japan Times (Tokyo), March 16, 2017.

MacEacheran, Mike. “Huis Ten Bosch: Inside the World's Weirdest Theme Park.” Independent (London), February 8, 2018.

“Multinational H.I.S. to Acquire Transat A.T. Tour Operator Jonview Canada.” M&A Navigator, November 2, 2017.

“Transat to Sell Its Jonview Canada Business Unit to Japan-Based Multinational H.I.S.” Canadian Government News, November 2, 2017.