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Summer break! Some like it served on a silver plate in a 5-star hotel, others prefer a thrill of competition and allure of unknown. No matter which one you fancy, proper communication is essential. Whether is between a bartender and holiday-goer or a racing hitchhiker and race organizer. Today, we talk with Tomasz Pietruszka – founder of Eskpedycja Express.
Let’s start with an explanation, what’s Ekspedycja Express?
Ekspedycja Express is a company organizing outdoor games, similar to those presented on the TV. We organize one-day events as well as longer excursions.
Sometimes we race from one town to another and sometimes we go bold! I mean, a week-long adventure spanning across a couple of countries with more than 1000 km distance between destinations. It really makes you feel like a TV star.
What connects all our adventures are hitchhiking and the spirit of competition. We race, try to beat other teams in unusual tasks and most importantly have fun. Almost 6 thousand people have already gone on an adventure with us since we started two years ago.Tomasz Pietruszka
How did you get the idea of hitchhiking races?
Out of necessity, really. In the beginning, my motivations were purely personal: I needed a break after years of running an IT company. Everyday stress, responsibilities, lack of social life and two years of constant work led me to a realization that I must change my approach. I wanted to travel, move and do what made me smile.
I’ve decided to sell the company and start doing something engaging which would let me use my knowledge and skills. At the time I have been also organizing outdoor games for my colleagues and as it turned out, I was good at it! It all came together with the popularity of Express-like TV shows. Since people wanted to watch them, I figured they also wanted to take part in them!
After a couple of months of investing in hardware, researching, testing and developing of IT system which helped me to run the project, Ekspedycja Express was ready to launch. Next came staff training, first editions, hundreds of tweaks, improvements and “homemade” solutions. I could already call the project success.
What countries do you visit?
Currently, we are focusing on Europe. But step by step, we plan to spread reaching every continent. This year we want to organize a race in Thailand. Other exotic destinations will come later. So far we have been to Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia.
How many contestants take part in each edition?
It all depends. One-day games organized in Poland usually gather 40-60 hitchhikers. In the case of longer races, we try not to exceed 250 people.
What are the biggest challenges of making the race happen?
It’s an effect of months of the team’s efforts. We start with a destination, handpicking locations and getting proper permits (sometimes even to restricted areas). Then, we create and test quests for our participants.
In the next stage, we design and order necessary props, prepare the app and plan logistics. Lastly, we order t-shirts, bands, prizes and other game accessories. I particularly like the last step.
It’s hard to say what’s the most difficult part. The hardest problems are those that are unexpected. They occasionally happen during the expeditions. Luckily, we are well prepared to tackle them all!
Why SMS communication?
Two reasons: reliability and honesty. We can always be sure that a message reaches its recipient, unlike e-mail or app notification. Secondly, we need to reach all the contestants at the same time. We want to be fair, giving all hitchhikers equal chances to win.
What messages are you sending?
Before the game, we send out notifications and important updates. We choose SMS as a medium because it won’t get stuck in a spam folder. In other words, we can reach our audience without fail. It’s even more important during expeditions when we send „twists” – little goals that must reach every hitchhiker at the exact same moment. We are also sending information about upcoming races and reminders on a daily basis.
To what countries do you send SMS?
Our hitchhikers are from Poland, so all numbers are Polish. But for example in Thailand, we plan to use only local Thai numbers.
Why did you choose SMSAPI as a communication partner?
Our cooperation has started with an extremely pleasant conversation. Our needs were listened to and answered. We try to cooperate with companies that are 100% reliable. In the end, the implementation of SMSAPI system turned out to be easy. The effects are precisely what we expected.
Are you using a web client or API?
We use both: Customer Portal for SMS campaigns and API to integrate website and shop.
How many people are responsible for message sending?
A game scenario is secret, that’s why people working with it know only a fragment. The full version is usually known to three, while only two are tasked with SMS communication.
Lastly, could you tell a story connected with SMS messages that took place during a race?
Sure! The most interesting story took place in the Slovakian town of Nitra. That day, around 5 PM we have completed a stage, so everybody was enjoying their free time. Normally, racers spread around the area, in some cases they are 20 km apart from each other, but not this time. We were all gathered in the same place.
Close to 8 PM came an SMS with a “twist”. Contestants had to find other teams with the same sign as them. So far silent square suddenly came to life. Everybody was screaming, trying to find their pair. Simply put, it was noisy and chaotic. Locals were disoriented, somebody called the police in fear of a bomb threat. They’ve closed the streets. We managed to quickly explain the situation, but certainly, we didn’t expect such a result clicking “Send”. The power of SMS, as they say!
Thank you and good luck!
Thanks and see you on the road.