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Take a photo tour of Tokyo with this Bookings-powered site

Written by Nicole Kohler on December 10, 2015 Blog, Customer Stories.

Visiting Japan anytime soon? Have an interest in photography? Let EYExplore Tokyo be your guide to the wonders of Japan as seen from behind a camera lens. This provider of photo tours and workshops has been delighting tourists since 2014, and they’re doing it all with WooCommerce.

Explore Tokyo and take amazing photos with the help of this creative company.
Explore Tokyo and take amazing photos with the help of this creative company.

With the help of the WooCommerce Bookings extension, EYExplore Tokyo is able to book tours online from visitors who have an interest in photographing Japan’s unique and sometimes unusual scenery. These bookings are quick and easy for customers, not to mention the photographers who guide the tours.

We caught up with EYExplore Tokyo’s founder, Axel, to chat a bit about what has brought them success since they started last year. We also took a look at how they’re using WooCommerce Bookings, plus some other extensions, to offer a seamless experience for visitors booking a tour online.

How EYExplore Tokyo came about

EYExplore Tokyo was created in September 2014. Axel was later joined by a pair of inspired photographers, Heath and Lukasz. Axel and Lukasz incorporated the company in September 2015, and it is now a thriving provider of photography tours and workshops in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and more.

The team of passionate photographers that make up the company.

When asked what sets EYExplore Tokyo apart, Axel was quick to respond:

Photography tours and workshops aren’t anything new, but we set ourselves apart by providing really exciting products such as street photography, rooftop locations, and film photography workshops. There’s even more coming up in the pipeline.

Having said that, Axel mentioned that “so far there is no competition in [their] market,” as they are the only known provider of photography tours for English-speaking groups in Japan.

Since the company’s launch in 2014, they have been working hard to get the word out, relying heavily on the following marketing methods:

  • Social media
  • Blogging
  • Partnerships with travel agents and wholesalers
  • Affiliate marketing

The biggest challenge they have faced since starting their business, Axel tells us, is explaining what they do:

Few people have a clear idea of what a photography tour experience entails. That’s the challenge we are facing now.

Between their marketing, website, and examples of prior tours, they’re aiming to combat this confusion and increase their booking conversion rates.

Photo tours of Tokyo, booked conveniently online

The EYExplore Tokyo website has been using both WooCommerce and the Bookings extension since the very beginning. Axel told us that because their tours are offered in English, they receive bookings from photographers all around the world, as well as English-speaking residents living within Japan.

A sampling of the group tours available.
A sampling of the group tours available.

Where we think the website excels is with the detailed information it offers with each tour. Before you can even begin to think about booking, you’re given everything you need to know about the photography experience, including:

  • The price per person (which stays the same even if you don’t take photos, Axel mentions)
  • What kind of equipment is recommended or required
  • The length of the tour, including how long you’ll be walking or at each location
  • Whether you’ll be out at day or night
  • What kind of techniques will be used or taught

You’re also given the opportunity to read reviews from customers who have taken the tour. And if a tripod is required (as it is for some tours), you can rent one — and pay the 1,000 yen fee — right along with your booking.

Book online in just a few steps.
Book online in just a few steps.

How WooCommerce Bookings helps EYExplore Tokyo find success

The convenient online bookings system offered by the WooCommerce Bookings extension has helped this unique company find success in a short amount of time. Since bookings can be done online in just a few steps, customers simply have to pick a tour, select their time, and show up with their things.

The Bookings extension shows which days and times are available, and integrates with WooCommerce to charge for fees like tripod rental.
The Bookings extension shows which days and times are available, and integrates with WooCommerce to charge for fees like tripod rental.

Along with WooCommerce Bookings, the site runs on our popular Canvas theme, customized to accommodate large photos and the bookings extension. They also use AffiliateWP to handle affiliate marketing, and the WP Simple Calendar plugin to display upcoming tours.

Since establishing the business, Axel explains that their Tokyo by Night tour has emerged as a definite crowd favorite:

It’s a bit technical and people are happy to discover what they can achieve with their cameras. Beside it’s a kind of photography that fascinates people and matches well Tokyo.

We were also curious to know if any of the photographers on these tours had found commercial success with their photos. Axel told us:

We sometimes get very specific requests from pro photographers. They want us to bring them to very specific locations to achieve a particular kind of look for their work. We do know the city very well and they know they can rely on us. These works usually end up on their professional galleries or even printed and on display at exhibitions around the world.


A pro’s advice for fellow bookings sites

To round things up, we asked Axel if he had any thoughts for those who might be starting a bookings site of their own in the future. Here’s what he had to say:

Have the website running up and ready to accept bookings ASAP. Even if it means not getting it perfect from the beginning. This way you can more easily understand what works and what doesn’t.

Even if the backend doesn’t look or work the way you want, always go for the solution that gives you the best customer experience on the front end! You can put up with bugs but your customers will not, and you’ll end up losing bookings.

Wise advice, we think. After all, your customers only care about the experience they have — not so much what you’re doing after their appointment is made.

From photo tours to hotel stays, WooCommerce Bookings does it all

We’re grateful to Axel for sharing the story of EYExplore Tokyo with us. It’s always exciting to see what’s being done with WooCommerce Bookings. Next time you’re in Japan, look into tagging along on a tour — you can go even if you’re not a photographer!

Making reservations for a guided photo tour abroad is just one possibility of our bookings extension. Whether you want to use your WooCommerce-powered site to sell your time, reserve hotel rooms, or save slots for your pet grooming business, Bookings is the extension for you.

Have any questions about ways you can use WooCommerce Bookings? Shout out to us in the comments, we’re always keen to help you out.



14 Responses

  1. Oriano
    December 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks Nicole,
    for the presentation of this interesting site created with great Canvas.

  2. jesus
    December 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    Wow that looks interesting website that you speak. I work often have cost to do all these photographs, to design the tour. Thank you for recommending.

  3. fotos
    December 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    Thank you Nicole

    We are planning a photo trip to Japan and were thinking about staying one or two days in Tokyo.
    Your article makes it clear to why we should. Harmony of an interesting society and culture.
    The night photography is an unskippable schedule. Thanks.

  4. Nigel
    December 16, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Woocommerce Bookings looks great for tours and such, but I bought it for use with a B&B and it’s useless without a check in and check out facility.

    You mention that it’s great for hotels and rooms etc (amongst others) so where are the examples of these? I can’t seem to find any. Perhaps you could feature a B&B or hotel set up so that we can see exactly what you mean?

    At present, having “Duration x 24hours” in the product page just doesn’t seem right. What we need is for customers to simply select the check in date and the check out date and to be able to set the room to be an overnight from say 2pm to midday the following day.

    Looking forward to seeing that and without it, it just doesn’t seem feasible to use woocommerce bookings for hotels or any accommodation.

    • Nicole Kohler
      December 16, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

      Hi Nigel, if you have a read through the section in our documentation about creating a bookable product:

      … this should help a bit with your questions re: booking hotels or accommodations. There’s a note at the bottom about resources that mentions hotels specifically.

      Overnight booking support was added with the last update, so that is now a feature we offer. 🙂

      If there’s something we’re missing that would help specifically with hotels or accommodations — you mentioned “check in and check out,” perhaps you could elaborate on what specifically would be useful there? — let us know. We’re working on the next update right now and might already have this addressed, but it’s always good to have specific feedback to pass along to the extension developers.


      • Nigel
        December 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

        Hi Nicole

        Thank you for the reply.

        Yes, I read through the documentation. In my case, there is not a need for resource as I only have a few rooms.

        The problem I am finding is that it appears impossible to set up an individual room to be bookable as an overnight product in a simple to understand way.

        This is how it seems to work right now:
        I have to set up the blocks as either days (which is a problem for us because our “day” is not a full day – it is from 3pm (check in) til midday following) – or I have to set it up to show duration as per 24hrs which is not really right to look at, but does seem to work.

        How I think it should work
        I want my guest to simply be able to select a check in date (or start date) which I have already defined in system settings as starting at 3pm – and then they should select an end or check out date – that I have already defined in system settings to be midday. Basically, my “day” is really a night – from 3pm – midday. Then a second person could book that next period.

        The problem with the current set up is when a person currently books a “day” (which ends at midday) I am not then able to book out that same day for the next arrival (at 3pm).

        The only way I have found to be able to do this is by using the Select a duration _____ x 24hours – which just looks and seems very unprofessional.

        If you look at your “Rival” product from tychesoft – you can see how that works, it is very intuitive – but I would rather go with woo.

        Another item that should be addressed is for fixed length bookings that don’t require a start end date – e.g. tours that have a fixed date. Currently there appears no way to do this – the user HAS to select a start and end date.

        I hope that helps. Thanks for listening.

        • Justin Shreve
          December 18, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

          Hi Nigel! We have something coming early January that does exactly what you describe for accommodations and makes it easier to sell those types of products. If you are interested in a copy of the beta, please open a ticket and we can have that sent to you. I wouldn’t recommend running it on production, but you can play with it in a development setting if you want!

          • Nigel
            December 19, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

            Great – thank you – I will open a ticket

          • Nigel
            December 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

            Oh and by the way, I’m sorry to hijack this post – the Tokyo tour site is very cool – and woo bookings IS awesome and rock solid – I’m just so excited to get it working right, so my apologies 🙂

          • Nicole Kohler
            December 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

            No apologies needed! We’re always happy to hear your feedback and thoughts on how we can improve 🙂

  5. EYExplore
    December 17, 2015 at 1:39 am #

    Thank you Nicole for this great post. We are happy to use Woothemes bookings. Despite the struggles we had sometimes to configure our system we always found a solution. We also found that your team was very quick at updating the code.

    Highly recommended 😉

    • Nicole Kohler
      December 18, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

      Thank you so much for being willing to speak with us! Your site is truly unique and it’s been wonderful to hear about your experience.

  6. Thiago
    January 5, 2016 at 12:49 am #

    O projeto e simplesmente sensacional!

    Meus parabéns a equipe…

  7. Silvia
    January 5, 2016 at 1:03 am #

    excellent plugin for my site.
    I know more about it.