How did you get into the industry of Online Booking of Airport Transfers?
Well, that was coincidence, for 3 years (at that time) I had 1 minivan/shuttle that was non-air-conditioned, which was serving customers over their summer holidays in Croatia to transport them to all of the local places they wanted to go, making taxi excursions and similar trips and at that time, I was the only driver in my taxi company.
My main job (taxi transfers/excursion trips) supplier was an Italian Guest-Holiday resort in Croatia.
Due to my knowledge of the Italian language, I had the advantage working with them at that time as the main taxi company. Just to add, I didn’t get many airport transfers at that time, perhaps a couple per season (yearly) but nothing worth mentioning.
I had my own language knowledge and I had the ability to convince customers to use more of my services from that particular holiday resort, rather than having them only using the nearest taxi service to the city for shopping, so I would drive them to National parks in Croatia, historical cities and even in the night to some more distant (better) nightclubs, where I would wait for them.
Everything was nice, until it suddenly had to close down (holiday resort) due to ownership changes and reconstructions, redesigns. I am being honest when I say it was my only job provider-taxi transfers/excursion trips at that time, as the Taxi transfers market already had many companies offering taxi transfers, shuttle transfers, airport transfers and excursions in this touristic area (Dalmatian Coast in Croatia) with much better cars/minivans and buses than I could offer.
I desperately needed to find a solution to my problem and that problem-solution was: not losing my job and surviving in the holiday/travel market in Croatia.
The reason behind this is because that it is the main niche here and everybody lives for tourism and travel related jobs, serving tourists and travelers. It’s fair to say our Croatian economy depends on TOURISM. If you live at the coast and don’t have a job that is tourism related, then unfortunately, you’re screwed.
Winters are very long here and it’s hard to survive without work and making money. Somehow at that time, Zadar airport started introducing low cost airlines like Ryan Air and Germanwings.
What I found out at that time was a game changer for me, which was when I found out that all those customers only used internet booking for tickets and ticket reservations, which made me think: if they reserve an airplane online, why wouldn’t they search for airport transfers or airport taxi cabs online too?
What were your preparations prior to getting into this kind of business?
I have always been interested in computers as a hobby for music and video editing, but a very good friend of mine, named Marko, gave me some lessons and taught me how to build websites, and where to search for more learning materials. How to handle applications and programs that are meant for website creation and similar. Therefore, I started working on my new website as fast as I could, believe me at that time I thought it was my unique idea (hahaha) in the WWW. So I didn’t search for competitors or similar companies in the web, I was simply serving my own ideas as to how the website should look. So what happened next was I created a dedicated online taxi transfers company website. Maybe the originality of my first website gave me the good search engine results at that time. So the first online enquiries started coming in and taxi bookings were being reserved. After I realized that there were others (not many in Croatia and none in my area where Zadar airport was located), my first investment into my company “online” was paying for 2 different SEO courses and 1 SEO marketing tool that helps you when you are SEO optimizing your website. The rest, as they say, is history.
I became the No.1 Online Taxi provider in Croatia, due to which, great search engine results people contacted me for transfers all over Croatia as it would be a country big as a small city.
I was ranking high even for search terms (locations) that weren’t even close to me.
I had 3 minibuses and 1 regular car in one moment and they were all air-conditioned of course.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of your business so far?
That’s not a tough question at all. The most challenging is keeping up with your new coming competitors, which find the only way beating you is by lowering their prices, fares and sacrificing the quality of the service just to get more or all work that they can take from you.
This looks like a never-ending loop, because with each competitor that arrives online, it is getting worse. So I have decided at the moment to have a smaller fleet to cut the costs, but still provide the quality I was trying to serve from beginning.
Until now, I don’t regret that because there is so much work in the TOP season that we are not able to handle, but we have very good partnerships with other transportation companies that help us cover all of our needs.
If you could attribute one thing to your success, what would it be?
Reliability, for example if someone books us online, they are certain there will be someone waiting for them at the airport terminal when they arrive, compared to some other competitors who will run for a better paid job if it arrives last minute, rather than wait for one that was booked 6 months ago. It happens all the time and it is what makes us the No. 1 online transfers provider in Croatia.
It is even more important when people are flying back home, as some taxi companies don’t show up for the return trip because they received a better job last moment. We see this all the time (especially TOP season, when there is more work than anybody can handle).
You have to shoulder responsibilities and be accountable. You make hard decisions by earning less money at that particular moment, but you stand by them and with time, it certainly pays off.
If you could leave our readers with one last piece of business advice, what would it be?
Never give up!
If you think you have great business ideas, EVEN after you just realized that they are nothing new. You can always find your own niche inside a particular niche and stick with it and find a way to make enough money for yourself. Don’t be greedy; rather go for quality over quantity and it will pay off later! Just don’t give up, it’s a longer path, but a more certain one!
Order your airport transfers online by visiting Taxi Transfers Johnnie