Entrepreneur Philippines Magazine
Getting lost in an unfamiliar area gave this traveler an idea: set up a business that will produce city street maps
At one time or another, some of us must have had the irritating experience of getting lost in an unfamiliar street or area. In the case of Ariel Jersey, however, the experience turned out to be a very productive one: it inspired him to come up with detailed city street maps that have since become a byword among motorists and tourists alike.
Jersey is the founder of United Tourist Promotions, publisher of the internationally known EZ Maps travel publications. The maps produced by his company keep travelers in the Philippines better informed about where they are going, particularly motorists who need specific directions for finding key streets and major establishments in the country’s major destinations.
Aside from providing geographical information, EZ maps are much more comprehensive than other maps available in the market. They give more specific details about streets in major cities as well as useful information for contacting local authorities. EZ also produces specialty maps that indicate the major festivals held in particular points in the country as well as major historical and religious sites.
EZ maps use colors that are easier on the eye, such as light green and light yellow. Their fonts, too, are as simple as can be; intricate fonts have been avoided for greater readability. “And I also don’t put any extraneous details like unnecessary shadows and colors on the maps,” Jersey says.
Still another distinctive feature of EZ maps is that they are updated much more often than other maps. “I originally intended to update them once every two years, but since I have been doing reruns every year anyway, I have been updating them more frequently than planned,” Jersey says.
Jersey came up with the idea for publishing his detailed maps when he got lost while driving in Makati City sometime in 1994. “With all the one-way streets and all the changes in the names of its street names, I had actually been lost in Makati many times before,” he recalls. Truly exasperated that time, he wished he had a map with him, one with enough details and information to help him get back his bearings.
“But in 1994, there was no such product in the market,” he says. “There were maps but they were just what you’d call ‘Mickey Mouse’ maps. The kind of maps needed by motorists was simply not available.”
With the help of a team of four, Jersey then formed his own company, United Tourist Promotions, to come up with the maps that he had in mind. Today, his Angeles City-based company now publishes a wide range maps under the EZ brand as well as various easy-to-read and up-to-date travel publications such as road atlases, travel guides, and city guides.
Jersey’s team had to closely coordinate with the various government agencies, traffic bureaus, and local authorities to create accurate maps and travel brochures. He says it was not an easy task because of the sheer number of government agencies they had to deal with.
After developing his map products, Jersey himself planned the marketing strategy for them. “The important thing in the map business is to know your market, and the best strategy is to make your products visible everywhere in that market,” he says.
Specifically, motorists being their major market, Jersey made his maps available nationwide in the two places most frequented by motorists: gasoline stations and convenience stores. As retail outlets, most of these places had the added advantage of being open 24 hours every day.
Jersey and his four-man team used guerilla marketing to penetrate these outlets. They approached the major gasoline stations one by one to make them carry EZ maps as a standard offering. Demand for the maps grew, and in time orders for them started to come in even from the various government agencies, including the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Today, EZ Map publications have become widely available all throughout the country.
The successful entrepreneur behind EZ maps and travel publications comes from humble beginnings. A native of Sorsogon, Ariel Jersey finished his secondary education at the Estenias Science Foundation School in that province. He then went to Angeles City in 1986 to look for employment, landing his first job as a laborer with the William Golangco Construction Corp.
He then went to college as a working student, graduating from the Holy Angel University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He eventually became the manager of the Skeet and Trap Range in the former Clark Air Base.
But the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 displaced him from his job at the Clark Air Base, which shortly after moved out of the Philippines for good. He then decided to study in various computer schools to become a computer programmer, graphic artist, and systems analyst.
After that, he served as a volunteer for the Rudolf Steiger Foundation, which undertakes mass-based sports programs. He then got employed as a production research assistant and systems analyst by a shoe manufacturer, the Intelligent Manufacturing Company Inc. While working with this company, he got transferred to Manila where he eventually put up his map company in 1995.
He says that his formula for business success is simple: “You have to be in a business that you are truly passionate about. That is the secret.”