A New Take on Traveling
The Experience Philippines Success Story
Born out of a love for the Philippines and a passion for adventure, Experience Philippines was created to treat explorers young and old alike to exciting and even life-changing encounters with the hidden, untouched and unique places the country has to offer. It pioneers a different kind of travel experience that isn’t limited to fixed schedules or strict itineraries – instead, these one-of-a-kind journeys merge the element of surprise with the wonder and openness of the Filipino culture and people. It’s a winning combination, made more so because Experience PH’s trip managers make sure that every trip is safe, authentic, memorable, and a whole lot of fun.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN:
The concept arose when CEO and Founder Giancarlo Gallegos was studying abroad and felt a need to give something back to his home country. Being a curious explorer at heart, what he really wanted was for Filipinos to be exposed to their own land and discover the secrets and surprises the Philippines has to offer. Through his passion, he wanted to have a new take on the concept of traveling.
“I started conceptualizing a trip where … what if you don’t know where you’re gonna go, who you’re gonna be with, what you’re gonna be doing, and everything is just random?” he shares.
Little did he know that this was the beginning of a novel concept that would redefine traveling for years to come.
Today, he and his Co-Founder/Head of Finance Jeffrey Lui all but perfected the formula for a truly random road trip. After choosing a destination by throwing darts at a map, they do some research on the area and approach the local communities to plan the trip.
There’s a lot of coordination involved, since despite being “random,” the trip also has to be wholesome and safe. Any itinerary the managers do set-up is flexible and subject to change, especially if the local communities suggest something new to try. Of course, all this planning is kept secret from the road trippers, who welcome each surprise with open arms. All in all, it’s one crazy roller coaster of a trip, and there’s no shortage of trying new things, sharing warm stories and enjoying each other’s company.
RELATIONSHIP BEFORE ROAD TRIP
In a business like Experience PH, relationship-building is the name of the game. On both the front- and back-end of the business, success depends almost entirely on the trip managers’ ability to make friends with locals and customers alike. Fortunately, it’s an art that Giancarlo, Jeffrey and the rest of their team have mastered.
“We have a regular exchange of calls, texts, or even e-mails with [the locals],” Giancarlo says. Then for the trip itself, he adds, “When we get there, we invite them to join us. So when they join us on the trip itself […] we develop a bond. We get to talk to them about their families, what they’ve been doing, how they’re doing this thing, And then they join us in our meals.”
They’re also very good at bonding with the road-trippers.
Jeffrey shares, “Aside from being very experiential, we put a high emphasis on the social element, because if you’re going to get people to jump, you’re going to have to build their trust first. So right from the beginning – from the meetup itself – we get to know everyone, we tell them stories, they tell us stories, so by the time we get to the destination we already know each other.”
It’s no wonder that many travelers come back for more – in fact, Experience PH has established and is expanding a community of road trippers, most of whom become best friends.
“After the trip, [the social element] doesn’t end there,” Jeffrey says. “We continue to include [road trippers] in a larger social circle.”
Their packages cater to various local and foreign travelers, from young professionals to senior citizens to hugot-ridden singles to the LGBT community. All of these people come together in the community they form a post-road trip to share stories, make new friends and enjoy each other’s company.
TAKING ON THE FUTURE
From an experimental first trip to a booming business, Experience PH has made its mark on the travel industry. It has brought hundreds of travelers to places all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and has made countless memories in over a hundred local destinations. From its humble beginnings on platforms like Facebook and CouchSurfing to the launch of its website only two years ago, it’s clear that they have always thrived with the use of digital platforms.
To the extent of their trips, Giancarlo shares that having a data plan, “was very crucial for us, because we can answer inquiries even when we’re on a road trip. We can do live streaming now, so there’s a real-time component. On Instagram or Snapchat, we can instantly snap our road trips or post beautiful sunset pictures. That’s very crucial because although people don’t know what to expect from a road trip, they see it from past road trips [and] that’s how they’re enticed to join the following one.”
Giancarlo and Jeffrey share that Experience Philippines has, in fact, become more digital this year. With the advantages this offers and the better connections they can form with road trippers, local governments and their market, it’s a bright future that lies in store.
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