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GoOpti has no standard timetable, they adapt to passengers' needs, and chose a vehicle suitable for the number of registered passengers. New web site will allow last-minute booking of transfers, up to two hours before the departure. Foto: Facebook stran GoOpti
GoOpti manager Marko Guček is presently mostly occupied with web site renovation, and plans for expansion of the company abroad. Foto: MMC RTV SLO

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With GoOpti to the airport, and from there anywhere!

Marko Guček: "Nobody wanted to take risk with us, so we had to buy our first van"
27. December 2013 ob 15:05
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

Neither Venice nor Munich are very far, but the travel can be quite inconvenient, as often these cities are just a starting point for another, more distant destination. There are several ways to get there – one of them also a drive with GoOpti.

You must have noticed white wans with signs GoOpti on our roads. It is a Slovenian company which, practically starting from zero, became the main low-cost ground transportation company in Slovenia.

The company has been operating more than two years, and offers transfers to neighbouring airports – Venice, Trieste, Milan, Zagreb, Klagenfurt, Munich, Vienna … They can take you to other places as well, wherever you wish to go! The passengers are especially satisfied with their responsiveness, reliability, and favourable prices, but they have been noticed by professionals as well. The Slovenian Innovation Forum gave them a special award for the most innovative business model, for their smart organisation of transfer of passengers.

Today GoOpti is a part of the TM Vista company, with over ten employees in the office and over 40 drivers, and over 50 vehicles if also franchises are considered, with 300 to 400 passengers per day.

The idea conceived by three business partners is unique, as well as its realization. Marko Guček from Ljubljana, 32 years old, is one of them. After graduating from the Faculty of Economy in Ljubljana and receiving his Masters Degree from tourism he became a businessman. Today he is the driving force of GoOpti, a company which is constantly growing, and next year plans to expand abroad.

GoOpti transfers have been in operation for more than two years. How large is your fleet of vehicles, and where do you find yourself today?
We started with one van – actually, we wanted to find a transporter to drive for us, but nobody wanted to risk, they all thought such business had no chances of being profitable. So we were forced to buy our first van. But already after three months of operation we were able to cover our costs, so we quickly decided to buy additional vehicles. Presently our franchise alone has 19 vans, plus six personal vehicles, and one bus. After half a year some local transporters showed desire to join GoOpti, so we added four transporters – one from Maribor and from Koper, and two from Ljubljana. So presently we have more than 50 vehicles all together.

Where did you get the funds for your investments? Did you receive any help from the state?
The funds were entirely ours. We received no help from the state yet, except at the start of Slovenia Break portal. We were incubated within the Technological park at that time, and thus received an opening subvention for the portal, not for GoOpti. Later the portal failed, but we learned a lot from that. We had to provide all the investments for GoOpti; until now we have sent no applications at all, soon we intend to apply for the first time.

You are offering low-cost transfers to airports in the vicinity, emulating the system of low-cost airlines where the first sold seats are cheaper than each one sold next. Do other low-cost ground transportation companies exist at all, or are you unique? Did you follow someone's example?
We did study the others, but in the end we have created something unique. We are very well acquainted with the operation of low-cost airlines, but at researching the ground transportation we have noticed that the »shuttles« mostly connect larger cities with larger airports. They are solving the problem of bringing the passengers together in the best navigational manner, and don't concern themselves with the problems of time and price. Their prices hardly differ, regardless of the destination – the transfer from JFK in New York to Manhattan cost approximately the same as transfer to any other destination … But we have noticed that there are two bus transport companies which operate in a manner similar to the low-cost airlines: the first sold seats are the cheapest. However, they also drive e.g. three times a day from Milan to the Malpensa Airport, at fixed time, and with a fixed number of seats which have to be sold – just as a plane which takes off every day at the same time, and has always the same number of seats available. In this manner this low-cost system can be
very well developed, and organized with the purpose of making as much from one seat as possible. Our additional problem is that we have no fixed lines. Firstly, our transfer is organized when the passengers need them, and secondly we can drive them by car, van, minibus, or bus, depending on the number of passengers. We are not limited to one vehicle either – we can quickly rent an additional vehicle if the need arises.

Are all the departures for your lines guaranteed?
Of course, we guarantee each transfer. If there is only one passenger, we take him to his destination – and make a loss instead of a profit. But this is where our innovative system which we had to develop kicks in: how to predict the situations for the next month or two, to avoid driving only one passenger, and which prices to set to make profit, and still remain interesting for the passengers.

Presently you have 'optidrives' by vans – joining the maximal number of people travelling in the same direction at the similar time, which allows for most favourable price – to Austria, Italy, Germany, Hungaria, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovakia, and to Brnik from a number of Slovenian towns. Which lines are most occupied? Is it still Venice with the airports Marco Polo, and Treviso?
Yes, Venice remains the most frequent destination, but the travels to Milano, Bergamo and Bologna increase. And of course Munich, and Vienna are more and more in demand. Next year we plan to open our subsidiary in Zagreb as well, so that we expect an increase there as well.

Do you plan any new lines from Ljubljana, or are practically all the important airports already covered?
We have no additional plans for Slovenia at the moment, but we are considering Belgrade, and Budapest. Once our plans for Zagreb are fully implemented, and if it proves adequate for servicing Belgrade and Budapest, we will probably introduce transfers to those two cities from Ljubljana as well.

Therefore your next goal is to succeed abroad. Which countries are you considering? Do you plan to keep the same system as in Slovenia, and what is your schedule?
You are right. Presently we have franchises in Maribor and at the Coast, and next year in April and May we hope to start with transfers in Zagreb, Rijeka, Pula, Split, and Trieste. In these cities there will be bases from where our franchise holders will provide transfers with GoOpti's vehicles and drivers, driving people locally to nearby, or more distant airports.

How many passengers do you usually have per day?
Presently 300 to 400, while in summer the number is larger - 500 to 700.

Anja P. Jerič; translated by G. K.
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