Ms. Florence Rivera is the Founder & CEO of Travelbug PH, a travel company in the Philippines with a heart for education. She believes that travel is the most exciting form of learning, and she endeavors to spread the travel bug as much as she could. Florence is not new to start-ups, having co-founded and managed one that eventually went public in the NYSE.
Tell us about yourself?
Hi! My name is Florence and I am from the Philippines. After several years in the corporate/start-up world, I decided to take the leap to entrepreneurship and start my own travel business. It has been five years now, and I have not regretted the decision. Helping other people discover new destinations and organizing their travel plans make me happy.
Travel is education – the more we travel, the more we know about the lives of people from other islands, countries, and continents. The more we know, the more open, tolerant, and accepting we are of other people’s beliefs, cultures, and practices.
What makes your organization different than your competitors?
We are not just a business, we are also passionate about promoting the K to 12 education program in the country by helping senior high school students from public schools with their work immersion. We help train young minds on professionalism and work ethic and enable them to have a positive experience in the workplace that would inspire them to choose the right career or college as they move forward. Some of our staff were our student interns. Working temporarily with us helps them finish school, and trains them to value work at a young age.
What makes the Philippines a good destination?
Few places on Earth are as beautiful as the Philippines. We have some of the most amazing islands in the world – more than 7000 of them! The locals speak English and have a great sense of humor, the food is great, and your money will go a long way. Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol – just some of the popular destinations. Contact us if you want to visit the country, you won’t forget the experience!
What was the most important part of your whole business journey?
The most important would have to be the valuable learnings gathered along the way. Running a travel business is tough, especially when you try to manage all aspects of the business – operations, money, people, processes, etc. I have to juggle almost all of the responsibilities on my own. Good thing my corporate experience in the past has equipped me well.
What are your best and worst travel experiences?
One of the most interesting for me this year is going on a safari in Africa. It’s my first time to visit this part of the world and I realized how little we know about the African states and its people (especially Asians, I think). Meeting several Africans from different African states was really an eye-opener for me. We now offer outbound tours to Africa for those who want to experience this.
The worst one would have to be my trip two years back when a friend’s passport was stolen on New Year’s day in a European country. That was unforgettable, and probably the most shocking. I have been extra cautious ever since and I advise everyone to do the same. Always keep a copy of your passport on your email and keep extra passport photos (your embassy will require photos when you ask for a temporary travel authority to go back to your home county). Make sure to have your Embassy’s contact number as well. Also, never leave without travel insurance.
What takes up too much of your time?
Touring! I just got back from a Holyland group tour covering three countries: Jordan, Israel, and Egypt and that already ate up almost the entire month. While running a tour, I also still remotely supervise our daily operations so that requires a lot of multi-tasking on my part.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?
First, take the leap. Don’t be afraid to take risks and follow your dreams.
Second, start small. Don’t invest all of your resources to something you don’t understand. Start slow and build upon your learnings along the way. Starting the business is the easiest part, making it work will be the real challenge.
Third, learn to balance passion with knowledge. Passion will keep you going but knowledge will make sure you are heading in the right direction. Take the time to study your industry, observe, and get feedback from your clients, partners, and vendors – there’s always room for improvement and getting the right feedback is key to making your services/products better.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
Elon Musk, most definitely! He makes things better and creates superb products! He knows how to dream and make them come true – in the most amazing way possible. So to Elon Musk – keep doing what you do sir, you inspire the rest of us.
What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?
The Travelbug PH team is my main motivation. I need to keep this business going for them because as we grow as a business, they also grow as employees, interns, students, and individuals. We grow and learn together. As they say, the destination is not the most important – it’s the journey that matters.
How people should connect with you?
You may contact us here:
This Interview is exclusively conducted by “Haris Siddique”
Haris Siddique is an entrepreneur and investor based in Pakistan. He is a co-founder of Artimization (A global branding and marketing company) which already served more than 500 businesses around the world. Haris is one of a board member of Vizaca Media Company and currently serving as a Head of Global Marketing.
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