Experience beyond itineraries: we talk to a ‘serial start-up founder’

The Experience managers of Experience Philippines
The Experience managers of Experience Philippines

We previously posted the first part of our interview with Experience Philippines founder and CEO Giancarlo ‘Gian’ Gallegos, who made us want to round up a few companions for a Random Road Trip. The self-professed ‘serial start-up founder’ now shares how he has turned a risky proposition into a booming business:

“We used to worry that no Filipino would join our Random Road Trips. But as it happened, people have really caught on to it. They found appeal in the notion that they were going to a place they have never been with only the vaguest idea of where it was and what to do when they got there,” Gallegos starts.

“I’m proud to share that we have made countless memories bringing hundreds of travellers all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. And all through bootstrapping, too! But being profitable doesn’t mean we are generating revenue at 100% yet. We are still open to investments, but more importantly, we are open to people who want to join our journey and our community.

The challenge

“A significant challenge for us is that first-timers sometimes think our Random Road Trips are scams. Given that we don’t share our itinerary at the booking stage, we understand that safety, security and health are all legitimate concerns. What most people don’t know is that we always plan every experience with the welfare of our road trippers in mind. Our team prepares, coordinate and track every trip thoroughly between local tourism authorities and our Experience managers.

A significant challenge for us is that first-timers sometimes think our Random Road Trips are scams

“Another point of consideration is that all of us in the team have gone on our own Random Road Trips. This has helped inform our approach to keeping our first-time road trippers at ease. In the end, we manage to convince them to be open-minded about enjoying destinations, transportation modes, food, culture, tradition and activities that don’t seem to be locally available while side-by-side with strangers.

Experience as a journey

“We pride ourselves on being customer-centric. While our key selling point is making money out of what is considered one of the craziest, riskiest ideas ever done in the Philippines, we found that we had to rely on relationship-building and online marketing just like any successful Philippine operation.

“We build the back-end of our business through calls, SMS and e-mails with local tourism offices, other travel groups, and grassroots communities. On the front-end side, we build trust with our clients at the meet-up point. We swap stories with them so that everybody already knows each other by the time we reach the destination. We deal with our road trippers in a personal way even and especially after the trip.

Experience Philippines Random Road Trip Mindanao
The first ever Random Road Trip into the Mindanao

“It’s an exciting time in Philippine tourism right now. More Filipinos are already learning to enjoy the journey along the way, which will make realising the country’s full tourism potential faster. This is why we have always featured stories of and by our road trippers on our website. We are also actively looking into virtual reality to help us refine our ‘One Day, One Experience’ concept. We just might consider using it in the near future. 

More Filipinos are already learning to enjoy the journey along the way

“Setting up a new business is a product of passion and self-awareness. I learned, after being a ‘serial start-up founder,’ that you have to have so much love for your work and so much investment in making your customers happy. There is no shortcut to success other than going through the hard work of applying what you know as well as knowing what you can change to make your business work better.

Gallegos’ advice: “I just want to tell start-up owners, founders and even programmers four things: be self-aware, be innovative, stay flexible, and just go for it!”

 

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