We, at e27, believe in Asia’s startups. As such, we value their insights about the ecosystem, put the spotlight on their contributions to their industries, and celebrate the wins that they have.
This community spotlight is trained on Experience Philippines™, a travel startup that pioneered travel concepts like random road trips where the destination is secret and the activities are a surprise. We talked to Giancarlo Gallegos, Founder and CEO, about travel in Philippines, engaging with the local community, and the importance of your intention.
On what prompted the creation of Experience Philippines™
I wanted to create a legacy where you don’t just travel but also create a deep connection with the people with you. It is an avenue where people can just be themselves, and where they can make a difference in the local community. Back then, I had just moved back to the Philippines, knew very few people, and had a bit of difficulty connecting to Filipinos after being away for so long. So, I felt that best way to meet kindred spirits is through traveling. However, I discovered many Filipinos always traveled to only the popular tourist spots, which was a shame since the Philippines has so much more to offer.
Imagine hopping on a random transport, with random strangers, bound for a place which none of you know. Sounds risky? Well, we made a business out of it. What we want is for people to go out of their comfort zones and try something new and different. By not knowing where they were going, what they’d be doing, or who they’d be going with, we could get people to discover the unknown places around the Philippines, experience different kinds of transport, food, culture and traditions, and local activities, and form new bonds of friendships that could last a lifetime.
On starting, failing, and the importance of intention
Yes, I started several [companies]. But failed from those. I remember doing an online information portal which basically curates all the information from various government agencies. It was doing well in the first few months but it was not sustainable so it died a quick death. I could count all the failed projects with my two hands.
The previous business focused on making money. But with Experience Philippines, it is all about leaving a legacy. When you start focusing on what will make your customers happy, your outlook changes. And when you start designing your service around that, you will see unexpected results. Sometime these results are not even quantifiable because some of them are life changing.
I guess this mindset serves as a fuel to constantly adapt to changes, to help think out of the box, to challenge the norm and be innovative.
On what makes them stand out from other travel startups
Aside from coming out with one of the craziest ideas you can do in the Philippines, another thing to our edge is being customer-centric. We find great satisfaction in dealing with our road trippers in a personal way. In fact, I always remind our team that the real work of Experience Philippines™ happens AFTER our road trips. It is how we engage and continue to build a travel community. It make the trying out new ideas easier as well since you have early adaptors. And if you have a strong community, scaling is a lot easier.
On working with the local communities
For Experience Philippines, the simplest way we bridge the gap in the business and economic landscape is to create business and social initiatives that will spur the grassroots economy. By organising road trips to non-touristy destinations, we help bring business to local communities. It would be great if the tech startup community can collaborate with us to help bring business to locals by introducing technology specifically to boost local tourism.
On building their team
Building a good team is one of the most important and hardest as you start your entrepreneurial journey. Experience Philippines is lucky enough to have dedicated and passionate founders. But as you grow, the requirements for skilled and specialised team members also become apparent. I believe that skills can be learned but passion, compassion, genuine interest and commitment are important traits that we look for in our travel managers.
On expanding and collaborating with local communities
On the local level, we are only servicing travellers from the island of Luzon. We will soon cater to the travellers based in the islands of Visayas and Mindanao. We already started our partnerships in Japan and France to attract foreign visitors to experience the Philippines in a different way.
For us, to expand simply means to closely partner with the local communities and local government. If we can manage collaborate with local communities, then we can support the livelihood of small communities. And through the transfer of knowledge and information, we can create sustainable travel friendly initiatives that can protect destinations, cultures, traditions.
On how the tech community should create solutions
If we can look beyond mobile devices or applications and establish a human connection with the market, then it would be easier for us to provide solutions and improve each and everyone’s quality of life.
On what’s next for Experience Philippines™
As part of Experience Philippines’ continuing advocacy for sustainable travel, one of our major projects is launching the first ever patented travel hostel bus in the Philippines. The Travel Hostel Bus features comfortable full-sized beds, toilet, kitchen, pantry, living room as well as a multi-purpose roof deck.
With the Travel Hostel Bus as an alternative transport and lodging service, Experience Philippines™ aims to provide the convenient experience of cruising at night and spending more time exploring destinations by day. Travelers gets to journey to lesser known Philippine destinations. Moreover, travelers would not have to worry about itinerary, transport, accommodation, and food.
Got questions for Gian or Experience Philippines? Let us know!
Thank you, Gian!
Experience Philippines™ is a travel company that create unique and memorable travel experiences through random road trip adventures. Their packages vary from day tours near the city to nine-day ones in the islands and mountains, with themes where activities are arranged for singles, couples, LGBTQ, motorcycle enthusiasts, and even paranormal hunters. They also provide customised trips for large groups. Experience Philippines™ currently has 125 experiences exploring 130 destinations and are looking for partners to launch their Travel Hostel Bus project.
Image courtesy of Experience Philippines