Find out what these tourism industry leaders have to say about starting a local business in the field.
Last April 25, Globe myBusiness brought together some key players in the tourism industry to discuss opening a business. They covered the inspirations behind their brands, the journey they went through, as well as some essential pieces of advice they wish they had known when going into business.
The workshop was facilitated by Manila Workshops founder Ginger Arboleda, and it featured Travel Bug PH CEO and founder Flo Rivera as well as the founder, CEO and Chief Visionary of Tralulu, Andrew Cua. Travel Bug PH offers services like travel business workshops to entrepreneurs looking to start in the industry, while Tralulu is a digital marketplace that offers platforms for travel guides to host their own tourism businesses and help tourists “travel like a local”.
Together, these two entrepreneurs were able to answer all the frequently asked questions surrounding tourism businesses:
Flo: “I started Travel Bug PH due to my passion for travel. I used to imagine going to places I’d only read about before. And now, because of my travel business, I get to go around and see the world. Another inspiration is my desire to be an entrepreneur, because I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my own business.”
Andrew: “We started it to address the problem of local guides. I was inspired by the guides themselves, and I wanted to give back. I wanted to help them become financially sustainable [by creating] a platform where they can become entrepreneurs.”
Flo: “When I was starting, I didn’t imagine how difficult it was to get permits, to legalize everything. A lot of entrepreneurs start with a passion, and you don’t really see what comes after. It’s not easy to start a business.”
Andrew: “The most memorable challenge [for me] was sustaining the team. I’m one of the few startups blessed with a good starting team, but we weren’t making money [in Year One]. We had a really small starting capital, and that was one of the toughest moments for all of us.”
Flo: “I realized that [my] business was sustainable when I started getting clients that weren’t from my network—not family, not friends, but people who just heard from us and became really good clients of the company. That’s when I knew that I could do [this].”
Andrew: “How I know it’s sustainable is if the startup can survive on its own without its founder. If it’s profitable, and if the founder [can be gone] for a month or six months, and it’s still making money, for me that’s sustainable.”
Andrew: “For us, we built a culture that enables […] the Tralulu team [to not be] dependent on its founder. Every time I go back to the team, I don’t give them technical lectures. They can take workshops, study online, study on their own. But when I’m there, I share with them culture: integrity, hunger for growth, commitment, grit.”
Flo: “For me, it’s technology. Thank God for technology. Now I can be in a banka, on an island somewhere, or in a safari, but still talking to my team. It’s as if I’m there. Of course, it’s still different when you’re physically there, but now I can leave more without worrying too much.”
Flo: “Number one is to be a major player in the travel industry. But also, we want to be a major contributor to the growing tourism in the Philippines. There is a need for upscaling of tourism players in the Philippines. I’m talking about training, management skills, people skills—and that’s why our advocacy is to help out those who want to get into business in the industry.”
Andrew: “Our hope is to eventually create a digital ecosystem where anyone can offer a local authentic experience to anyone in the world. We also want to enable SMEs in the industry to have a platform where people can discover their tours, their activities, [and] their products, all in one place.”
Andrew: “Technology is very powerful. It allows us to go into this generation where [a] platform powers everything. With a platform, anyone can discover you with the click of a button. For us, [a] platform is an enabler, enabling anyone to transact with people in their industry [and more].”
Flo: “We still have a brick and mortar store, because I think not all Filipinos are ready to go fully online. Right now, we’re on the transition stage between online and offline. Technology is helpful [for] marketing. For example, marketing through social media is so much cheaper than traditional marketing strategies and tools.”
Flo: “I wish someone [had] told me that the odds are against me. Most startups fail; that’s a fact. Sometimes Filipinos go into business so lightly. I [also] wish someone told me that cash is king. If there’s no cash entering your business, you’re really not getting anywhere. Finally, [I wish I knew that in business,] you will never stop working. Many people go into business because they want to quit their 9-5 jobs. But when you become an entrepreneur […] your mind will never switch off, and your thoughts will always be about your company.”
Andrew: “First, this is not for everyone. This is for people with problems that they can not sleep with until they have solved. [Those people are] meant to be entrepreneurs and address that. Secondly, age doesn’t matter. I’ve seen entrepreneurs in their teenage days; I’ve seen entrepreneurs in their sixties and seventies. Finally, you need enough faith and reason for what you’re doing. Grit, commitment and hard work are very important. The [effort] you put into running a business is double what you would put into a full-time job. If you’re ready for that sacrifice, then it’s right for you to be an entrepreneur.”
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