*As seen in December’s Logbook.
It only took one gulet cruise for business owners Mitja and Alenka to totally fall in love with the concept. In fact, it made such an impression on the pair that it wasn’t long before they were putting plans together to share the experience with others. With a shared background in tourism, Goolets was soon born.
JOURNEYING WITH STYLE
Discerning travellers will know that “how” you reach your destination is as important as getting there. Taking this to heart, Goolets is a company that has perfected the art of “journeying” in style.
As CEO Mitja Mirtič explains, Goolets combines the luxury of a hotel, the adventure of a cruise and the boutique style of a top-line glamping resort with glamorous destinations. These include Turkey, Croatia and Greece with additional destination options such as Montenegro and Italy. But it is the time spent upon the yachts, which are called gulets, that make the holiday.
“A gulet is a mostly wooden vessel that comes with a full crew including an experienced captain, chef, sailor and hostess,” Mitja says, “The gulets range in size from twenty up to fifty meters in length and have anywhere from four to eight cabins. Some of our larger fleet come with ten and up to sixteen cabins as well.”
According to Mitja, gulet cruises are similar to yachting holidays, if more affordable and somewhat slower. He says, “In the yacht business travel is faster as it is more focussed on getting you to your destination as soon as possible, but a gulet is slower and allows you the chance to properly appreciate the experience of the journey. With food services that are nothing short of amazing, luxurious accommodation and of course wonderful sea views.”
He describes a gulet as a floating hotel. The finest food is served, the cabins are cleaned, the beach is always right there for you to enjoy and the hotel moves from location to location to ensure the view is always fresh and new. The wood gives it style and each vessel is unique and not part of some serial manufacturing. Gulets and yachts differ in one main area, yachts all look alike and are for show offs, gulets are for people who appreciate class. Gulets are preferred by those who like to be pampered, that like great food, to explore places away from crowds and most importantly take their time.
TAILORED MADE CRUISES
Mitja says that most cruises are based on seven nights and eight days from Saturday to Saturday. This being said a ten day or fortnight cruise would also make perfect sense and clients can expect a completely tailored cruise to suit their wishes and tastes. As an example, a seven-day cruise from Split to Dubrovnik can be experienced very differently if you are a family with small kids or if you are a group of young couples. Families like safe beaches and family orientated water activities, couples may wish to swim and relax, eat superb meals and drink the best wines. Or if you are a group of seniors, you may wish to explore different towns, visit museums, experience local culture or just drink at a different taverna every day.
“Beachballs and sand, candles and romance or jet skis and parachuting. Each group has its own cup of tea,” Mitja explains, “All you need to do is tell us what yours is.”
THE GORGEOUS DESTINATIONS
For Goolets, Croatia is the hottest destination at the moment, with Dubrovnik and Hvar being very popular for the jet setters. Greece is always very popular for its food and culture while Turkey, which offers the widest range of gulets (more than 1000 to choose from) is a great choice for variety. Mitja suggests that a combination of Turkey and Greece at this time of year is probably one of the best ways to experience the cruise.
“I have several favourite routes and it would take too long to list them all,” he says, “One of the best of them is a one-way cruise from Split to Dubrovnik where you can experience all the best islands that Dalmatia can offer. This route takes you from Split to Hvar, then to Brač island with its Golden Cape, to Korčula island then to Mljet or the Lastovo Nature Park with Dubrovnik in the end.”
THE BUSINESS KEEPING GOOLETS AFLOAT
Goolets was founded by Alenka and Mitja Mirtič in 2004. It is a family business and they are both still very involved and personally believe gulet cruise holidays are the best type of holidays in the world. The company mantra is “Life is good” and their main mission is to put this mentality to everyone working in the company.
“It took around ten years for the company to really find its feet,” Mitja explains, “And with growth, a lot of challenges presented themselves. The main one was how to keep the services boutique and tailored to each group while we and the sizes of the groups we worked with expanded. There is a big difference between organising a trip for a group of ten people and a group of three hundred.”
Out of everything they do, to Mitja the “Human to Human Approach” is the most important and is, in his opinion, the company’s primary goal. Each client works personally with a member of staff to organise their holiday down to the finest detail. Irrespective if this takes 200 emails and a hundred phone calls or is organised over a ten-minute chat, every detail is covered.
“Whatever the size of the group, we accommodate for it,” Mitja says, “This is the highest challenge and most important to us, that each and every one of our guests knows without a doubt that they are our most important one.”
THE TYPICAL GUEST
Goolets mostly work with English speaking groups from all over the world. The most clients come from USA, Europe, South Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand. One of the things that all of these groups share is that they are in search of something special. The classic hotel and villa holidays can get stale after a while, but not everyone has the money to spend 150,000€ on a luxury yacht holiday. However, all of the groups that Goolets work with are looking for something similar to it.
At the start, Goolets faced-off with the same challenges of many businesses. Quandaries like how to market and get clients without any budget, resources or experience in marketing while also running the business and the cruises.
“Saying that it was hard would be an understatement,” Mitja says, “We had to find our ways of promoting a product that nobody knew about to groups of people all over the world. It was cheaper than luxury yachts but wasn’t a ‘cheap holiday’ and nobody knew what a gulet was!”
But with a lot of hard work and being ultra-stubborn and not giving up when it seemed impossible. Relying on mutual support and some good old-fashioned luck. Then combining these things with endless studying and learning and educating. Then taking all of this and adding discipline and near super human levels of optimism it all worked out.
“I would say there is really no big secret to success,” Mitja says, “All you need to do is go all in and commit fully, with your full heart, body, soul and all of your brains. Learn. Study. Never give up. And be willing to go in with the realistic idea that for the first 5 years you will not make any money while working 80 hours a week. If you can do that, you know it’s worth it and you will be fine.”
This has shaped the business today as everyone involved in Goolets has a real passion for what they are doing. Their devoted marketing team keep up to date with the latest industry news and have a genuine interest in the sector. The commercial department maintain amazing relationships with the gulet owners from all over the world because they have a common passion that they can connect on. The sales team are one of the best in the industry, but not because they’re only good at sales but because they are a team of gulet experts who provide good advice and support to people that are interested.
“We have a team of amazing people, working on hard projects and trying to have as much fun as possible while doing it,” Mitja says, “If anything, success is an ongoing by product of this.”
TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS
Networking and building relationships are a crucial part of Alenka and Mitja’s business. There are a limited number of gulets in the world, so having a good relationship based on trust with owners of these vessels and the qualified professionals that make up the crew is fundamental. But relationship building goes further than this and stitches the entire business together.
“An example of this is for a client from the USA, to book a cruise in Turkey, through a company based in Slovenia needs a lot of trust and relationship building,” Mitja says, “We also have a wide range of other travel agency partners that use our agency as their main go-to partner for gulet cruises. We need to have and keep their trust too.”
Goolets tackle this head on. They make a point of networking with people who have more experience than they do, this is why their marketing, sales and customer support are of such a high calibre. The more experienced, trained and supported a staff member is, the better they can look after a customer. There is another useful reason.
“We are always trying to learn and study and develop,” Mitja says, “And employing people better than ourselves always gives us the opportunity to do so. You have to connect yourself with the best of everything and implement it into your business.”
Keeping the business ready for the future is a daily endeavour, Mitja reveals. One that involves reading the latest blog articles and industry news. Reading books. Attending industry conferences. Talking to other people in the gulet segment and with people from segments that are not as niche to gather ideas and considerations. It’s time consuming but necessary.
“We are up to date with the latest marketing trends and we do try to implement what makes sense to our company,” he says, “We do try to promote gulet cruises to people that never heard of us before, which is hard, takes a lot of time and is very expensive, but on the long-term basis, we believe it is the way to go.”
Luxury travel, to Mitja, is all about combining “one on one support” which is being able to link clients with attentive personnel, while also implementing the latest technologies to keep things efficient, smooth-flowing and secure.
“The more technology that is implemented to allow more of the human element the better,” he says, “As long as everything we do helps people have the best holidays of their life, we should be fine. “
ADDRESS: Taborska Cesta 1, 1290 Grosuplje, Slovenia EU
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +386 40 233 240
PRICES: while the range of luxury goes anywhere from 10.000 €/week and up to 100.000 €/week for groups of 4 and up to 35 people.