Having Traveled 50 Countries And Counting, Travel Agency CEO Angely Dub Is The Ultimate Millennial Girl Boss At Just 27
She talks about dating woes while snacking on French fries, asks her hair stylist for curling iron techniques, and gets excited at the thought of coming home to her fur babies after a day's worth of hard work—in many ways, Angely fits the bill for your average twenty-something of this day and age.
Though in the ways that matter the most—developing foresight, prioritizing long-term-practicality over instant gratification, having the stomach for criticism and high-pressure environments—Angely couldn't have been any more different.
This daring young woman's desire to do more and be more than her peers has culminated in her greatest achievement to date: at just 27 years old, she not only owns premier travel agency Access Travel and Tours Inc., but can proudly call herself its CEO.
"Business is hard; it's not for everyone, but I'm different. It’s for those people who really want to be someone," she says with the distinguishable blend of pride, ownership, and confidence of a self-made woman.
And when it comes to Angely's success story, "self-made" proves to be a severe understatement used to describe the grueling journey of building an enterprise from the ground up; she was, after all, just a 19-year-old fresh graduate of the College of Saint Benilde-De La Salle University when she put up Access Travel.
Photos from @accesstravelph / Photos of Angely's A-list clientele enjoying her masterfully planned itineraries: Kim Chiu and Xian Lim in Finland, Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano in France, Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano in London, Jodi Sta. Maria in Cambodia, Sofia Andres in Hong Kong, James Reid and Nadine Lustre in Thailand, Sarah Lahbati and Zion in Hong Kong, Jasmine Curtis and Anne Curtis in California, Angelica Panganiban in Bhutan, Gonzaga and Soriano family in France, Sarah Lahbati and Zion in Hong Kong, Alex Gonzaga in France, Seve and Toni Gonzaga in France, Bea Alonzo in Singapore, Paul Soriano and Toni Gonzaga in Indonesia, Marian Rivera in Japan, Maxene Magalona in Japan, Nadine in South Korea, Dantes family with Angely in Madrid, Letizia and Dingdong Dantes in Japan, Maxene Magalona and Rob Mananquil at Coachella in the US, Letizia and Marian Rivera in Indonesia, Yassi Pressman in Japan, Solenn Heussaff in Japan, Bianca Gonzalez and JC Intal with Lucia in Singapore?
From the get-go, Angely was sure she was going to take her life down roads less traveled. While her batchmates were sending in resumes and landing their first jobs or spending graduation money to shop, get makeovers, or come home with their first car, she used her savings to purchase a travel agency from one of her university professors.
Much has happened since then, both good and bad (and at times, more bad than good), but if Angely was given a chance to do things all over again, she wouldn't have things any other way. Her place today, she knows she was meant to claim.
"I never doubted myself. I never did, and I always believed in myself," Angely declares.
She was, as it seems, built to conquer the world—one city, country, and continent at a time.
In her own words, this ultimate girl boss and millennial on a mission takes us on her journey of a lifetime, describing in detail all the lessons she's learned along the way, the necessary growing pains and gained wisdom, and ultimately, what it means to be a woman at the top of her game.
Harder than it looks
Boasting of a seven-year-long history in the travel industry, Angely has become a pretty tough nut to crack in the face of critics and harsh comparisons. But what still makes her wince are the uninformed comments from others who are quick to say that Angely is unaccomplished and living the good life without a sense of responsibility. With 3,000 plus Instagram photos featuring her smiling, posing, and laughing in all sorts of beautiful places, it's easy to make that judgment call without doing research.
In response to those who belittle her business and what she does for a living, Angely's message is loud and clear: they are sorely mistaken.
The need to surpass hardship began from day one; her original business partner left her in the dumps, failing to pull through with their end of the bargain. A teenage Angely was left with an empty office, zero employees, no equipment, only a handful of connections, and what looked like little hope to recover from a failed business venture that cost her all her money.
Rather than accept defeat, Angely took this chance to grow thicker skin. With some help from mom and a few brave emails to online influencers to help promote Access Travel, she recovered, slowly but surely.
On the steep climb up, Angely also made sure to train herself in the business of travel agencies. She educated herself in the processes of filing for visas, applying for passports, contacting travel partners locally and abroad on her own, putting itineraries together, building a business plan, and taking care of her own marketing and PR.
She was a one-woman machine in the early days, but knew that it was the only way for her business to prosper; like many great businesswomen and men of today, she saw the value in starting from the bottom. If she wanted to be the best at what she did, she needed to know the ins and outs of her trade. It was, as she claimed, the only way she knew she would deserve to be called a bona fide CEO.
Today, Angely is assisted by 25 faithful employees, has a massive network of travel partners abroad, and can count on a plethora of private companies to help make her plans a reality. Her varied clientele is composed of families, and more impressively, celebrities, too. She's planned the trips of anyone from Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes, Paul Soriano and Toni Gonzaga, James Reid and Nadine Lustre, Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, Kim Chiu and Xian Lim, Solenn Heussaff, Maxene Magalona and Robby Mananquil, Jodi Sta. Maria, Angelica Panganiban, Sarah Lahbati, and so many others.
Last year, after leading tours in Iceland for a month I went to Paris for a break from work, my job gets very stressful as my responsibility is to make people happy even that means I don’t get enough sleep for a month because I monitor Northern Lights forecast every night. I always make sure to not get burned out and do side trips with friends for new memories. This trip was extra special because it was @severianoelliott ‘s first #travelwithaccess to Europe and I got to see our clients @celestinegonzaga and @marissadsoriano while traveling . ?? Full Paris vlog on Youtube. Please subscribe to see what my job really looks like on the road, it’s not just taking photos for Instagram. ?? #angelytriestovlog @accesstravelph
Even with her status, she continues to do the legwork of planning travels and tours, often sacrificing time for her personal life for the growth of her business. For 300 days of the year, Angely is on the road. No one realizes that she is often tired but unable to slow down for the sake of her business. The travel photos on her social media account are of her in action, not on vacation; they're the results of meetings with future partners, trial experiences for new itineraries, and meet-ups with clients. Having fun while abroad is the desirable offshoot of her work, but certainly not the bulk of it.
But in the end, even when she's as tired as a tired person can be, she's okay with that; this is the life she chose, and she couldn't be happier about it.
To those who have called her undeservingly privileged and detached from the realities of working life, it's time to reconsider opinions.
Owning the age of digital entrepreneurship
One look at Angely's accomplishments and one cannot help but wonder how she struck gold. She has one word for anyone who's ever tried to dissect the formula of her success: Instagram.
In 2010, before the explosion of e-commerce, Facebook businesses, curated Instagram accounts, online influencers, and sponsored posts, Angely simply sensed that she could take advantage of unchartered territory. Looking back at her very first Instagram post to promote Access Travel, she basks at its foreshadowing and appropriateness; it was a photo of an airplane which she captioned, "I’m gonna travel soon. Watch out!"
To date, she's traveled anywhere from Nepal and Morocco, to Iceland and Argentina. Filipino favorites like Japan, Hong Kong, the US, and European destinations like France and England were ticked off her travel bucket list years ago. In total, she's visited at least 52 countries.
All of it, she says, is the collective result of her taking full advantage of the endless potential of social media when it was just emerging. She posted carefully selected photos of her travels to attract followers, always making sure to tell the story behind each to transform likes and thumbs up to actual inquiries and potential closed deals. Whatever she posted online, she made sure was the real deal; overpromising and under-delivering was a no-no. Consistently, her hook was to explain that she had gone on those travels herself and experienced a destination first-hand—and if desired, she'll accompany clients, too, should they opt for a personal guide during their travels.
By the time Instagram picked up and became the new way of doing business a few years later, Angely already had robust statistics to show and a mastery of social media to entice both sponsors and discerning clients. And this can be credited to how she trusted her instincts and inherent business acumen.
A business model for a model business
It’s easy to get swept away by the allure of influence and success at a young age, but not for Angely. Surrounded by a close-knit family of a younger brother and sister, mom, and the memory of her father who has already passed on, Angely knows how to appreciate the good that comes her way, remain grateful regardless of the heights she’s reached, and give back to those who lent her a helping hand throughout her journey.
As a businesswoman, she cites her employees as her most valuable and irreplaceable assets, and without them, would not be where she is today. Maintaining relationships with them above all is her top priority; for her, they rank even higher than clients on her list of stakeholders. She explains that the trust formed between an employee and boss is rare and is integral to ensuring a venture’s longevity, something she’s sure that many business owners will wholeheartedly agree with.
“I’d rather lose one client than lose an employee I’ve worked with for five years. It’s always employees over clients. Clients, they will find you one way or another. But employees, good employees, are extremely difficult to encounter,” she shares.
“No man is an island”, especially me. Access Travel isn’t just me, I have a team that I rely on every single day.Each of them has different strengths that make the business succeed. Like me, they have a passion for travel.I couldn’t be more thankful to have these wonderful people work with me side by side. I owe what Access Travel has reached today-- because of their hard work.Day in and day out they answer your queries, fix your itineraries, and make sure your trips are flawless and worry-free. I included them in this campaign to remind them that everything is a result of all our efforts. After almost 7 years in the business I can confidently say that our team is the best group of people who can make your travel goals come true. Thank you Team! ???? #travelwithaccess @accesstravelph #itsmorefuninthephilippines
Throughout the years, traveling for me has been more than just a vacation. I do it for my business--to discover new places, meet new people, and find new activities to help design trips worth taking. Most of all, I travel to extend a helping hand. Whether it’s by treating out 2 kids to breakfast or by Organizing one big pakain to a whole barangay. I do it as much as I can, even if not everyone sees it. As my #Lucky13Philippines campaign comes to a close,I challenge you to do the same thing. Pay it forward whenever you can, ‘cause one day, all the positivity you give will all come back to you. Thank you @jollibee @sunburstselect for making this happen ?? Video by: @cocoyponce #travelwithaccess @accesstravelph
To show her appreciation for her staff—some of whom have stayed by her side since the very beginning—she sets up reward systems for them and empowers them to make decisions. Her best performers can earn up to P100,000 a month, and while a hefty take home pay might be enough for some, Angely adds to the package by taking those who are most deserving along on her travels. During the times that she’s away and too busy to sit down to manage office work, she trusts her employees enough to take care of their respective accounts and oversee operations to the best of their abilities.
In fact, Angely’s greatest measure of success is not a steep increase in followers, celebrity clients, or even profit margins. What reassures her is when she sees that her success is her employees’ success, when her growth is their growth, and when everyone benefits from their collective efforts.
Giving hardworking Filipinos jobs and opportunities they would have never gotten otherwise has become her advocacy, and a huge reason for why Angely continues to do what she does.
Of course, this is not to say that Angely forgets about customer service. Every and any time she can, she directly deals with her valued clients. Be it through answering inquiries online or taking calls, personally meeting with them to plan itineraries, or even meeting them while they're abroad, she makes herself available for the people that their company serves.
As early as now, this admirable young woman has already sharpened her sense of social responsibility, making her business incredibly well-rounded, and herself, well-grounded.
Woman without fear
When asked why she thinks she was able to endure the hardships of a fledgling venture that’s now maturing as an industry leader, Angely’s answer is brief but firm.
“I’m not scared. I’m fearless. I’m just not scared, and I’ll do things no matter what. I’m really strong,” Angely says, asserting the fact that unusual tolerance and appetite for risk has been a true competitive advantage.
Her reflections of her approach to business have also made her proud of the fact that she is a female leader who’s broken down stereotypes of women in business.
She explains, “I think usually why men succeed, they are fearless. They don’t have as much emotions as women. And I’m sort of a man trapped in a woman’s body that way. I act like them, sugod lang ako nang sugod. I’m unlike many women who second-guess themselves. I don’t have that mentality. Most of the leaders are men and successful people are men because they’re like that.”
Her emanating female power is so noteworthy that it earned her a top spot in this year’s Women Entrepreneurship Summit. At the event that reinforces the Filipina’s capacity to be agents of change and progress, Angely presented her story alongside powerhouses like Vicki Belo, Karen Davila, and Georgina Wilson.
Then and there, she realized there was nothing that could stop her from reaching for even higher peaks.
Always looking forward and never lingering on the past, Angely concludes with a final thought:
“I’m very happy with my life, but someday I really want to have my own family so I can teach my kids my wisdom. I want to have someone in my life who I can shape. I will tell young people why you should not listen to people on social media when they say you quit your job. I’ll tell them why you should choose a specific career and be the best in it.”
With herself and her business as her own testimonies to her advice, Angely can rightfully call herself a boss, a success story, a thriving entrepreneur, and a woman fulfilled.
Photography by Mark Chester Ang
Make up by Muriel Vega Perez
Hair by Erika Glendro
Shoot assitant: Cheska Santiago
Shot on location at Bulb Studios