Looking back on our 10th anniversary and the next 10 years

Travelience, Inc. celebrated its 10th anniversary on February 6, 2023.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our customers, employees, and everyone who has been involved with our company for their support.

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect a little on our progress over the past 10 years.

[Year 1] Walking tour

In February 2013, we rented a small office in Kuramae and began offering walking tours to foreign tourists every morning in front of the tourist information center in Asakusa. Every day without fail, even on rainy days, I stood in front of the tourist information center with a guide and asked tourists on the street to join the tour in front of the Kaminarimon gate. I was so happy to hear the compliments of our tour guests, “You have a good guide!” I was so happy that I often got goose bumps.

[Years 2-3] Release of GoWithGuide and trial and error

In the fall of my first year, I started developing GoWithGuide (It was called TripleLights), a C2C tour marketplace that matches guides with tourists visiting Japan, and released it in the spring of 2014. At first, it was difficult to get customers to book, and our goal was 100 bookings per month for a while long time. During that time, we did a lot of trials and released new businesses every year, such as Planetyze, a video Japan sightseeing guidebook, and Guide Academia, an e-learning program for guides, through trial and error.

[Years 4-6] Opening and operating Planetyze Hostel

The most impressive new business was the opening and operation of Planetyze Hostel, which aimed to bring foreigners to local areas.

I myself have been backpacking since I was a student, and based on the half-convinced idea that foreigners who might visit rural areas are backpackers who have been traveling Japan for a long time without a fixed itinerary, I worked hard to find a property and find money. By chance, I was able to turn an entire 10-story building in Higashi-Nihonbashi into a guesthouse in the spring of 2017. As a backpacker, it had long been a dream of mine to operate an ideal guesthouse, and that is exactly what I did, and the one-year period leading up to the opening and the two years of operation for a total of three years were very fulfilling and dream-like.

[Years 7-10] The COVID-19 Pandemic and Overseas Expansion

In 2019, when the “GoWithGuide” business got on track, we decided to focus the company’s resources on the overseas expansion of “GoWithGuide”. In other words, we have decided to expand our business domain from matching only foreigners visiting Japan with guides living in Japan to matching foreign tourists visiting the world with foreign guides living all over the world. Just as we were increasing the number of employees and aiming to release an overseas version of the service in 2020,The COVID-19 hit our company. We have experienced many hard things in the past three years, from a sharp decline in sales, a transition to a fully remote system for all employees, employee and executive turnover, office downsizing, and uncertainty that the end is forever in sight, to organizational collapse and restructuring. Overcoming the experiences of the past three years has allowed me to grow as a manager and as a company. I would like to look back on the details of these three years at some point in the future.

The COVID-19 Pandemic is finally coming to an end, and with the lifting of restrictions on Japanese tourists entering the country in June 2022, sales have finally begun to recover, and now sales are closer to pre-Corona levels and the number of staff has increased. The number of countries served now exceeds 90, and the percentage of overseas sales has increased.

[The next 10 years] A challenge to become Global No.1.

We will continue to expand overseas and aim to increase the ratio of overseas sales to 50% and then to 90%. We also aim to become the global No. 1 in the area of personal guide matching. In order to realize our vision, “To have people become happier through traveling more” all of us will take on many challenges while cherishing the joy of each and every customer, cherishing the lives of the employees who work with us, and cherishing the relationships with everyone who is involved with our company. We will continue to take on new challenges together with all of our employees.

Naoaki Hashimoto
CEO of  Travelience Inc.