Experience Philippines Launches Random Road Trips – A Secret Getaway

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Pushing people out of their comfort zone to try something new. This is at the core of Giancarlo Gallegos travel startup Experience Philippines. To us, he talks about the future of tourism.

How would you describe Experience Philippines in a few words?

A travel company that keeps your weekend travel getaway a secret and surprise.

What inspired you to create travel adventures? How did it all start?

I wanted to create a legacy where you don’t just travel but also create a deep connection with the people around you, where people can just be themselves, and where they can make a difference in the local community. Back 2014, 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 the best way to meet kindred spirit is through traveling. However, I discovered many Filipinos always traveled only to the popular tourist spots, which was a shame since the Philippines have so much more to offer.

What we wanted 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, as well as local activities, and form new bonds of friendships that could last a lifetime.

You’re specialized on adventures on the Philippines – how does the tourism scene differ compared to the European one?

Unlike in Europe where the mode of transport is quite efficient, here in the Philippines, there is still a long way to go. So when people plan for their own holidays, they really need to a tedious work of research and calling agencies etc. especially if they are looking for unique travel experiences. However, what sets us apart from Europe is the beautiful island adventures one can experience. Many of the places are still untouched by commercialization. You end up with a very raw and authentic experience. With Experience Philippines, we do exactly that. We explore and discover new experiences that will delight our clients. We engage with local communities. We immerse in local traditions. And most especially, we show the richness of Filipino heritage and lifestyle to our clients.

What we wanted is for people to go out of their comfort zones and try something new and different. Many Filipinos always traveled to only the popular tourist spots while the hidden gems scattered across the rest of the Philippines remained unknown. There are thousands of travel companies offering the same destinations while not really offering anything new and unique. Because of the buffet of choices, it just becomes a price war.

The competition in the industry is fierce. What makes Experience Philippines stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

Experience Philippines has pioneered revolutionary travel concepts called the Random Road Trips where the destination is a secret and the activities a surprise. Everything we do, we believe, is challenging the status quo. We believe in traveling differently. And we do this by creating road trips designed to bring people closer together. We are unique. We are safe. We are fun. And we guarantee, you will create bonds of friendship that can last a lifetime. And we happen to be very good at it.

As part of Experience Philippines’ continuing advocacy for sustainable travel, we are launching the first ever patented travel hostel bus in the Philippines. It is the travel transport tour concept that highlights the experience of the trip over the identified Philippine destination. We don’t merely bring people from Point A to Point B. Travelers get to explore lesser known Philippine destinations. And along the way, we bring about positive social impact by partnering with local government units and engaging the local community to stir the grassroots economy. With our travel hostel bus and our brand of adventure, travelers don’t have to worry about the itinerary, transport, accommodation, and food. With this new concept, we are looking for individual and travel companies who are willing to partner with us and make this a reality and scale it to target the 81 provinces in the 300,000 kilometer land area.

How do you bring people out of their shell? How do you make people fall in love with the Philippines that are not normally seen on social media?

The simple answer: traveling without expectations. I thought that if I started taking people on random road trips where they didn’t know anything about their destination, something magical would happen. That is why I think the future trend is creating lasting experiences, the more raw and authentic, the better. Millenials nowadays are craving for the connection, the stories they can tell their families and friends when they go back home.

Are you taking road trips internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the team?

Of course! At times, we try to make it random as well. We often do oculars on the places we visit not because we wanted to see the destination but to research more about the experiences we can have. There are a lot of things that are not mentioned in your travel guides like Lonely Planet or Fodor. If you want to provide real, authentic value to your clients, you really have to look for those hidden experiences that will delight your market. From homegrown specialty food to unique transportations to practice of local traditions.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

There are many challenges. But I would say it boils down to 3 major things: people, marketing, and funding. We are in search for talented people both local and foreign to strengthen the core values and objectives of the company. These are people who are so emphatic that will inspire others to go out and explore and make a positive difference. Marketing is another challenge. Traditionally, travel has always been marketed as “you have to visit this destination because you can do this, this and this”. But with Experience Philippines, we established a new way of traveling where we keep the destination a secret and the activities a surprise. Why? Because we want our travelers to focus on the experiences, the connections, and awe of discovering and learning something new. Therefore, not many people are still comfortable with our idea. Lastly, funding. As a startup based in a developing country which has dreams to scale worldwide, you are bound to hit a wall when it comes to money. We have always bootstrapped ourselves since the very beginning, we never asked for any investor to come in. However, for us to scale to the next level, we need a good partner to help us see our vision through. Our core concept is a disruptor in the travel landscape. We see ourselves leading in the “experience” industry.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of Experience Philippines?

We do receive a fair share of media mileage such as being published in major magazines and dailies and gaining brand partnerships. But I would say, most memorable moments are when our road trippers come back and tell us how their road trip changed them. There are some people who were disowned by their own families because they found out they were gay but found their second home with us. There are those who were heartbroken and found new friends and relationships on our trip. I keep telling those who ask us, we are in the business of people and that our real work begins after the road trip. It is the community of the travelers that we built that makes our travel company different from all the travel companies around us.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

For this, I would have to recount the advice of one of my mentors, Gary Vaynerchuck. He reminds us to “have zero expectations”. It is a statement that is often misunderstood. The reason why you can have zero expectations is that you have enormous empathy. At the end of the day, it’s about providing value first, and not always asking for something in return. And if you’re really coming from a place of empathy, you simply want to help. I just think doing the right thing is always the right thing. This is very consistent with Experience Philippines’ mantra of letting go of expectations. When you have zero expectations, everything else is just a pleasant surprise.



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