Bicol Isarog’s organic growth is based on a simple concept: customer satisfaction.
In just a span of seven years, Bicol Isarog has expanded from a fleet of 18 buses to 250. And the aggressive growth is organic, according to Assistant Vice President & Head of Office Strategy Management Michael Angelo Villanueva. Having started out with just Isarog bus lines, the company started acquiring other bus lines over the years such as Peñafrancia, Pintados, RSL, and ordinary buses which include Salvacion, St. Rafael, and St. Jude. “Growth was really organic and has evolved into medium sized operations already.” While bigger branches will have more than 600-1000 buses and still continue to grow, these have franchises have been around for decades and took them that long to expand and grow their fleet and routes.
Despite the expansion, Bicol Isarog had been strategic with acquiring franchises. “We wanted to dominate the Eastern Visayas and Southern Luzon route. We have [routes within] Palawan (El Nido to Puerto Prinsesa and vice versa), Leyte, Samar, and Bicol”, says Villanueva, “Currently, the main issue with transportation is that there are no other franchises [available in the Philippines], so in order for you to really grow, you have to buy specific brands.” And as the mother company acquired franchises, along with it, their routes. Fortunately for Bicol Isarog, these have been in line with their desired routes towards Southern Luzon and Eastern Visayas. Villanueva points out Peñafrancia bus lines as an example. As they acquired the fleet, they did so as well the routes to Legaspi, Albay and Camarines Sur. While Northern routes already dominated by bigger branches, southern routes by franchises were offered.
However, Bicol Isarog has a vision it strongly adheres to: customer satisfaction. “The whole experience we want is seamless end to end customer service: meaning, [starting] from the time you book online (through the website, booking partners, Messenger). One of the things we really value in Bicol Isarog is innovation as part of our vision.” Villanueva further points out how their forward-thinking mindset allows them to offer convenience to their clientele. This way, traveling to Southern Luzon is now less of a hassle. Travelers can book their preferred date and schedule on website and there are various ways to purchase and pay for tickets, including a hashtag (#bicolisarogtransportsysteminc) that enables a chat bot on Facebook where passengers can book 30 days in advance. This trumps all the archaic inconveniences of purchasing tickets physically at the station and even the utmost hassles of being a chance passenger.
So with all these innovations, Bicol Isarog continues to evolve. Fleets with modern conveniences are being introduced gradually including their Sleeper Buses which features bunks, a growing number of Sky Buses, and more. “More of upgrading our buses, some of the concepts we’re looking at are airconary (aircon na ordinary), launching the local bus lines from Naga to Legazpi.” New routes are also being introduced including a Palawan-exclusive route that moves passengers from Puerto Prinsesa to El Nido, and vice versa. Then, vying for this year, Bicol Isarog plans to launch a loyalty program that includes travel rewards, special promos and discounts.
For inquiries, visit their website bicolisarog.com or get in touch with Bicol Isarog’s customer service hotline at (02) 366 6302 or (02) 366 6298
Photography by Jisa Atrero