Founder Spotlight: Gian Gallegos of Experience Philippines, Building Communities Through Road Trips
By Ysa Lauta
World-class beaches, pristine mountains, and welcoming locals have always been one of the things the Philippines is known for. The country’s most popular destinations are Boracay, Palawan, and Baguio among others. However, Gian Gallegos, founder of Experience Philippines, realized that the country offers not just these popular destinations to explore but also memorable experiences. TechShake talked with Gian to learn more about their venture and how they are contributing to the country’s tourism landscape.
The Road Trip
Gian studied in New Zealand and came back in the Philippines in 2013. He told us that one of his goals in going back to the country was to do something impactful for the country. He realized that he could do that was to connect to people through traveling and experiencing different things together. He then started posting in Couchsurfing to see if there were people interested in joining his trips. Surprisingly, some people joined and went with him and that is how Experience Philippines was born.
“We don’t promote destinations, what we promote is the genuine Philippine experiences,” Gian told us. Experience Philippines offers “Random Road Trips” where the destination and activities is a surprise. They arrange the road trips based on the traveler’s preferences, travel styles, and backgrounds. They also have themed road trips to choose from such as Singles Road Trip, Random OUTings for the LGBTQ+ community, Pet Road Trip, Senior Citizen, Full Moon Party, Couples, Photography, Cosplay, No Bag Road Trip, etc.
Gian also shared with us that they are also creating a community through their road trips. They have post trips or post activities like reunions, birthday parties, and kaladkarin road trips which is purely for their community. In this way everyone can keep in touch with one another and even meet new people who were not a part of their road trip. In addition, this also creates trust with the Experience Philippines team which leads to higher retention rates of their customers.
Experience Philippines team
The Journey and Destination
Experience Philippines has done around 400 road trips to this day. However, Gian and his team faced some challenges along their startup road trip. He shared with us that it was hard during the early days of formalizing Experience Philippines since it was not all fun and games anymore. In addition, manpower was also a challenge for them since they all had their own day jobs before. He also mentioned that money was an obstacle in their expansion since they are just bootstrapping themselves.
Despite these challenges, Gian and Experience Philippines team are adapting and growing. He shared with us that they were recently awarded with one-million pesos in investment by IdeaSpace which gave them the validation and resources that they needed. He also told us that their community is growing and that they are giving value to them in terms of the meaningful relationships the community is creating with some even finding their perfect match.
For 2020, Experience Philippines is planning to launch their corporate adventure account and travel bus. They are also looking into creating their mini hubs in different provinces in the country in partnership with the government. Gian shared that they are also in talks with Vietnam for a possible expansion there.
Gian advises budding entrepreneurs to keep on thinking and creating and always trust yourself. He also told us that never forget the community that you are a part of and always try to get feedback from them to improve your operations. He shared that the community that they built through Experience Philippines is his primary motivation to continue what he is doing, and that entrepreneurs should also find that kind of motivation to grow their business.
Click here to know more about Experience Philippines.