Chuo University graduate Taku Motoya (39) serves as Representative Executive Director for APA Hotels & Resorts, operator of 124 hotels and 25,945 rooms (as of September 30th, 2014) from Hokkaido to Okinawa. APA Hotels & Resorts operate 39 hotels in the Tokyo metropolitan area alone. Mr. Motoya’s time at Chuo University instilled him with the skills and knowledge necessary for business expansion.
Entering Chuo University, a school attracting students from throughout Japan
A complete view of APA Hotels & Resorts Tokyo Bay Makuhari. The tallest single-standing hotel in Japan. (Photograph provided by APA Group)
The “APA” in APA Hotels is an acronym for “Always Pleasant Amenity.” Mr. Motoya is in charge of directing sincere planning and service at hotels.
Mr. Motoya graduated from Kanazawa Nisui High School, which is also the alma mater of former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who currently serves as President of the Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020). In November of his 3rd year at high school, Mr. Motoya was accepted to the Chuo University Faculty of Economics through a recommendation entrance system for designed schools. He immediately began studying for the Japanese national certification of Real Estate Transaction Specialist.
After entering university, Mr. Motoya spent his night attending a vocational school, doing twice the schoolwork of a normal student. He passed the examination in October, becoming the youngest successful examinee in history. Mr. Motoya’s family operates a business specializing in real estate and urban development. His father Toshio is Chairman and his mother Fumiko is President. Mr. Motoya had his eye on the near future when he decided to obtain Real Estate Transaction Specialist certification.
“I tried to make as many friends as possible while at university,” says Mr. Motoya. “Students come from all over Japan to attend Chuo University.”
Mr. Motoya started making friends right from the start. At the entrance ceremony, he started conversation with the student sitting next to him with courage. “The talk with which the Chair, Board of Regents spoke was educational. Mr. Motoya had never been outside of Ishikawa Prefecture before graduating high school. He was surrounded by strangers.
“Maybe the student who I started talking to was relieved at how I also had the same ‘country’ atmosphere,” recalls Mr. Motoya. “We found out that we had the same hobbies and joined the same club.”
Their friendship has continued ever since. After Mr. Motoya’s friend graduated from Chuo University and started working, he changed companies and now works in the APA Group.
“The smallest encounters can lead to a whole new life,” says Mr. Motoya.
Mr. Motoya owned his own car when he was a student. During his four years at university, he commuted in his beloved Toyota Mark II. At that time, the APA Group operated a rental car company.
“I would return to my parent’s house and driveway would be full of used rental cars,” recalls Mr. Motoya. “One day, my friend wanted to go see the sea at Shonan on the day before his 20th birthday. Five of us guys got in the car and drove to the beach. I often used my car for stuff like that.”
Not many students have their own car immediately after entering university.
“I was also driving my friends around,” explains Mr. Motoya. “Since my name is ‘Taku,’ they started calling me taxi…”
Mr. Motoya treasures his memories with his friends and acquaintances. He was a member of a rubber baseball club which only practiced before games.
“Of course, I studied as well,” he says. “There are some experiences only when you are young and at university. I was filled with curiosity at that time.”
Mr. Motoya stood out from the students around him. From among one-thousand 4th-year students at the Faculty of Economics, he was one of only 7 students honored for an Outstanding Graduate Thesis. Mr. Motoya first learned of this honor during a reunion with his seminar instructor Professor Tomoko Furugori (Faculty of Economics; specializes in labor economics and social policy) about 10 years ago—he had no idea until then.
Soft ice cream at Hill Top
“I loved eating at the Hilltop ‘78,” recalls Mr. Motoya. “The soft ice cream at TomBoy (store name) on the first floor was the best. The green tea flavor was my favorite. One day, the 2nd-floor cafeteria was completely full. So, my friends and I had lunch on the pedestrian deck. I’ll never forget the Chicken Naban (fried chicken smothered in Tartar sauce) lunch set which I ate while feeling the sun and wind on my face. I could have eaten at the cafeteria 3 times a day if I had had 1,000 yen.”
“Mobile phones started becoming popular when I was searching for employment during my 3rd year,” he says. It was difficult to find employment in a drastically changing society. In November 1997, Mr. Motoya’s 3rd year at university, The Hokkaido Takushoku Bank, Ltd. and Yamaichi Securities Co,. Ltd. went bankrupt.
Although he received job offers from several companies, Mr. Motoya selected The Hokuriku Bank, Ltd. His choice was based on his realization that his father, mother and older brother had all worked at financial institutions.
“I felt that working at a bank would give me the chance to contribute to my home prefecture,” he explains. “I was in charge of business, financing, and revenue and expenditure. One time, I was told that an ATM had malfunctioned and I ran to go fix it. I even spent my days riding in a bank transport truck.”
The time that he spent working at the Nagoya Branch was very memorable. Mr. Motoya persistently negotiated with a certain company, trying to persuade them to select The Hokuriku Bank as their financing bank. Eventually, the company switched from a local bank to The Hokuriku Bank.
“A bank is also capable of connecting Customer A and Customer B,” explains Mr. Motoya. “Introducing the two companies creates mutual benefit. Then, if working capital becomes necessary, a benefit is also created for the bank.”
After 3 years, Mr. Motoya left The Hokuriku Bank to enter the APA Group, where his experiences at the bank served him well. One of his ideas for guest services became a great hit.
He started sampling services at APA Hotel. Specifically, APA hotel distributed exclusive coupons enabling the user to enjoy the popular beer of a major beer company for free. The coupons could be used at only one major convenience store chain.
The idea created a unique winning relationship for all parties involved—the customer, convenience store, beer company and hotel.
“Bringing benefit to sellers, buyers and society—this is the idea of Omi marchant,” explains Mr. Motoya. “Ideas like this are of benefit to people and contribute to society. We must ensure that sales continue for a long period of time. Such a flow can be realized through cooperation with manufacturers.”
Mr. Motoya refers to this collaboration as “sampling.” Until now, he has successfully promoted 200 cases of sampling. His illustrious record includes distribution of 3 million bottles of the energy drink Lipovitan D and 1 million bottles of Oronamin C100.
The first group hotel opened in the Katamachi neighborhood of Kanazawa City in 1984. The total number of rooms reached 10,000 in 2004 and exceeded 20,000 in 2012.
Currently, Mr. Motoya is implementing a variety of creative plans to satisfy hotel users. Some examples include talk shows featuring professional Japanese baseball players and entertainers, APA President Curry which has sold more than 1 million servings when including individual and business use, and campaigns featuring gold spoons especially for APA President Curry.
Message to younger students
Repaying his gratitude to his alma mater. Mr. Motoya speaks at general lecture of the Introduction to Working course in the Faculty of Commerce.
“Once you become a working member of society, you receive a salary and can be filial to your parents,” says Mr. Motoya. “You will only be recognized by society and other people if you accept the responsibility to work.”
“While at university, I hope that students will form friendships that will last a lifetime,” he urges in a message to students. “Even today, I still keep in touch with my friends from Chuo. Having friends who look after you and offer a helping hand will help you grow. In addition to your classmates, students should also form vertical, horizontal and diagonal relationships with older students and teachers.”
“After graduating, I have always hoped to repay my debt of gratitude to my alma mater Chuo University. Last December, I was able to give a general lecture entitled “Creative Strategy of New Urban Hotels and Professional Techniques” at the Introduction to Working course in the Faculty of Commerce. About 300 people attended my lecture, and I fulfilled my dream of giving back to Chuo. The act of repaying one’s parents, alma mater and company is the sign of a strong person. I hope that students will try things out of their comfort zone and put other people first in their thoughts. I also recommend that students obtain at least one certification for use during their employment search.”
“During the Hakumon Festival, my club decided to make miso soup with pork and vegetables. I was surprised when I saw a younger student place an entire piece of deep-fried been curd in the pot without cutting it. I doubt that anyone would be happy to find an entire piece of deep-fried been curd in their soup bowl. My point is that you must always consider things from the customer’s perspective. This realization was the start of my business career.”
Provided by Hakumon Chuo, Autumn 2014, No. 238