Friendly, generous, caring, adventurous. These make us Filipinos the best chums or ‘barkada’ in virtually everything, particularly when travelling. Now, a local start-up weaponises these characteristics into a money-making platform that helps local (and foreign) travellers ‘find new adventures, meet new travel buddies, and enjoy affordable trips.’
Tripkada is to sustainable Philippine tourism what ridesharing apps Grab, Uber and Wunder are to the daily commute. Launched in 2016, Tripkada curates each traveller and trip organiser (or passenger and driver, when ridesharing) that joins its community.
Tripkada began as FlipTrip, founded in 2014 by Tripkada CEO April Cuenca with Jackie Yap and Ragde Falcis. FlipTrip meant to help travellers choose their own adventures in remote and lesser-known Philippine destinations. But, its users found it easier to join more trips organised by other people. Sensing that trip joining was the next big thing in adventure travel, they flipped (hehe) their model, and voila! Tripkada was born.
Tripkada’s app and website make it easy to plan, share and join trips. These trips are often destinations off the beaten path, where travel groups connect with local experts all over the Philippines. This leads to livelihood opportunities and sustainable tourism development in local communities. The start-up also gets these experts and small businesses to vet travel itineraries.
Key to Tripkada’s success is that it’s got enough structure, claims of being a ‘very casual start-up’ aside, to bring each member’s skills and interests together. ‘I think that everyone is uniquely creative in their own way, so being able to express that in each person is important,’ Cuenca explained via a recorded interview with e27. ‘But keeping everyone in line and geared towards the same vision is also very important.’
This vision (and the other key to the start-up’s success) is to make each trip a bonding experience. ‘The best way to know a person is by travelling with them and going outside of your comfort zones together,’ said Cuenca. ‘I think that when we travel, it really helps to build a relationship. It creates shared experiences outside of the regular office space.’
Cuenca definitely walks her talk: her social media posts show her with her significant other having their own trips together! Bringing this vision to Tripkada has also paid off big-time: its very concept won the 2014 Ideaspace Philippines National Startup Competition, and the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at the 2015 Echelon Top 100 Philippines Qualifiers. But most importantly, the feedback it has received from travellers has been largely positive, with the start-up’s social media channels full of stories about Tripkada fans hanging out, forming relationships, and going off on new adventures.