Sushi classes, karaoke sessions, bullet trains and robot restaurants - no prizes for guessing which country Travellers Choice Gold Choice Award recipients explored on this year's exclusive winners journey.
The peculiarly Japanese sights and sounds of Kagoshima, Osaka and Yokohama – not to mention side-trips to Kyoto and Hiroshima – were a highlight of this year's trip, which saw Travellers Choice's top 10 agents enjoy an elegant eight-night voyage around the Orient courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises.
In addition to Japan, the journey on the boutique-sized Azamara Quest also presented opportunities to enjoy bustling Hong Kong and the atmospheric street-food stalls of Keelung City in northern Taiwan.
Travellers Choice Managing Director Christian Hunter says the voyage delivered all the sophisticated luxury one would expect of an Azamara experience.
"The small size of the ship and the quality of the on-board hospitality combined to deliver a very relaxing and indulgent voyage," says Hunter. "By comparison our adventures on shore – which included everything from sushi-making lessons to late-night karaoke bars and bizarre robot restaurants – were, as you would expect on a visit to Japan, highly animated and oddly invigorating.”
The 10 travel agents won spots on the exclusive educational after receiving Gold Choice Awards at the 2018 Travellers Choice Conference.
Each year, Travellers Choice presents a total of 30 member shareholders with coveted Choice Awards, with winners chosen based on their support for the national retail group's preferred suppliers.
As well as winning spots on one of three exclusive Reward Trips – hosted by preferred supplier partners and reserved for agency owners – recipients receive service grants worth up to $1500 per agency. The grants can be used towards the network's broad range of member services, including the innovative Wetu Itinerary Builder, website and eDM solutions, and local marketing activities.
Last month, Silver and Bronze Choice Award winners both embarked on their prize winner journeys, the former floating down the Rhine on an APT river cruise and the latter travelling from Rottnest Island to the Blue Mountains as guests of Journey Beyond, one of Australia's leading experiential tour operators.