Introduction and Historical Overview
GoBus.ie is an Irish company that provides coach services within the domestic realm. It is a relatively young firm that has been operating since 2009. GoBus was the first enterprise that provided non-stop motorway bus services covering the route between Galway and Dublin. The owner of GoBus is Jim Burke, who has recently won a number of rewards regarding entrepreneurship. Jim seems to adhere to a family approach in business as Dara and Donal, his sons, are in the positions of Transport Manager and Fleet Engineer in GoBus, relatively.
The company claims that it gives a customer a flexible choice of services, high-quality transportation, and affordable prices. In March 2017, GoBus updated its fleet by purchasing ten new 171 Volvo coaches, which made the firm one of the owners of the most modern buses in the market (About GoBus.ie, no date). The company tends to demonstrate a dedication to the highest principles of coach services, which has led GoBus to some significant achievements.
Among them are: “Best of Galway Awards Overall Winner 2017,” “Best of Galway Awards Best Service Provider Award 2013 – 2017,” “Fleet Bus & Coach Awards – Intercity Coach Operator of the Year 2016 & 2020” (About GoBus.ie, no date, para 5). Such awards and nominations indicate the recognition of GoBus in Ireland. It should be stated that this is quite an important aspect as the vast number of formal rewards contributes to establishing the enhanced and resistible reputation of the firm.
Since its inception, GoBus has always been focusing on satisfying the needs and requirements of its clients. Extensive investments in the improvement and development of the company result in the latest technologies integrated into the fleet. The customers have the opportunity to obtain free Wi-Fi, onboard charging facilities, air-conditioning, and toilets. GoBus considers the safety of the clients as a crucial aspect and does its best to use the protection tools and programs, such as the Driver support system, provided by Volvo (GoBus.ie Fleet, no date).
The modern fleet gives the possibility to monitor and adapt to any danger or unpredictable circumstances that might take place along the way. The customers always travel in comfortable conditions and can leave their feedback via social media. The company tries to take into account every opinion expressed by both satisfied and dissatisfied clients in order to find the best way of improving.
It might be important to say that the Irish coach service market can be considered extremely competitive; hence, there is a high number of rivals. State-owned Bus Éireann currently provides the most significant part of coach services in the Republic of Ireland outside Dublin, including an express bus network connecting most cities in Ireland. What is more, Bus Éireann also covers routes between and within provincial towns.
Dublin Bus, a subsidiary of Éireann Bus, provides most of Dublin’s bus services with several other operators covering many courses. Among providers of transportation by coach in Dublin is Aircoach, a subsidiary of FirstGroup, that gives coach services to Dublin Airport from downtown Dublin, South Dublin, Greystones and Bray. The two mentioned companies operate two intercity special non-stop services between Dublin Airport, Dublin Center, and Cork and also a non-stop route between Belfast City Center, Dublin Airport and Dublin. A competitor that covers the Dublin-Galway route– as GoBus – is Citylink which may be characterized by a lower quality of services if compared with GoBus.
GoBus has chosen a smooth and stable business strategy with established ideas for further development. The firm does not seem to undertake any substantial changes within its policy but seizes the opportunity of upgrading its core resource – the coach fleet. Then, the company participates in some crucial competitions among bus service providers, which strengthen its reputation. However, GoBus does not try to enhance its competitiveness via strategic alliances or acquiring other companies. In order to capture emerging market opportunities, the firm has expanded its service coverage by launching Ballina to the Galway City route in 2019 (Ballina to Galway City route, no date).
Furthermore, the company does not demonstrate any actions to gain sales by lowering prices. GoBus rather tends to increase market share via integrating the most modern technologies into its services and customer care. Thus, the essential points that define the company’s strategy might be stability, the constant development of critical resources, and gradual expansion.
It might be assumed that GoBus is a relatively young company with a solid background and established business strategy. Despite the fact that the firm does not seem to conduct any considerable changes, it continuously develops and improves its services. Given the statement that GoBus might be considered one of the most popular and reliable coach companies in Ireland, its business approaches and peculiarities may be relevant aspects to discuss.
In order to gain a proper understanding of the mentioned points, it is vital to conduct an in-depth analysis of the business environment, the strategy being pursued, and the future direction of the company. The first step will be the assessment of the firm’s internal and external environment, as well as the evaluation of the bus transportation industry’s attractiveness.
Strategy Being Pursued
It might be supposed that GoBus has developed its specific strategy with concrete and solid principles based on the features of the market. As discussed in the section on the business environment, the market of coach services cannot be characterized as perfectly competitive. CIÉ is a crucial rival that has a number of contracts signed with the Irish government. Hence, Bus Éireann, being a subsidiary of CIÉ, is capable of providing transportation at lower prices in comparison with competitors as government covers some part of the costs.
For instance, Bus Éireann offers an adult ticket from Galway to Dublin for €9.98, while GoBus and Citylink sell the ticket of the same tenor for €13 (bookings.citylink.ie, no date; national.buseireann.ie, no date; www.gobus.ie/booking.php, no date). Hence, while analyzing the possible options regarding business strategy, the management of GoBus had to take into account that the company is being involved in severe competition conditions.
The company had to find its crucial competitive advantage that would be the key to success and significant profit margins. The bus services market of Ireland may be defined as quite a stable one, although there might be a visible monopoly tendency. Bus Éireann covers the routes throughout the whole of Ireland and even cooperates with a number of provincial coach companies. Such a successful large-scale approach with the maintenance of the government makes it too difficult to conduct a broad strategy for the other firms.
Although coach services are standardized and price competition is vigorous, a low-cost strategy cannot be the winning one for GoBus as there always will be a competitor that may provide a cheaper offer. This crucial statement restricts GoBus from conducting either broad or focused low-cost policy. It should be noticed that the firm has never even tried to act this way, which suggests a thought that the management of GoBus consists of competent professionals.
Being a best-cost provider might also be a lousy option for GoBus to undertake. The company has the opportunity to invest in its fleet and promote it as a critical competitive advantage but, again, cannot beat the price expectations of the customers. Underpricing will undoubtedly lead the firm to many pitfalls, which will cause decreased profits and business failure. Then, the market cannot be characterized as the one giving a significant buyer diversity that leads to the perception of services differentiation as the norm. Indeed, the market is quite standardized, and the clients do not expect anything extraordinary within the scope of transportation by coach.
Keeping in mind the arguments above, the most appropriate strategic direction for GoBus might be a differentiation one. The essence of such an approach is implementing differentiating features that result in the buyers’ willingness to prefer the company’s service over the competitors. However, it is hard to define a vital aspect that may be a perfect object for differentiating in the coach service framework. Despite this, GoBus had to make its choice as there is always a big risk to appear somewhere between strategic directions and produce no sustainable competitive advantage.
GoBus decided to make its coach fleet a critical business strength and invested in it about €3 million. Now, the buses might be the most updated ones in the market, which makes it reasonable to conduct the promotion of these modern machines via social media and the official website. It should be mentioned that there is a risk regarding the sustainability of this advantage as competitors are able to copy such an approach easily. However, the research identified no attempts to make an accent on the modern fleet among the rivals. The management team of GoBus could have conducted a substantial analysis before taking such a serious step.
As discussed above, GoBus cannot pursue a broad differentiation strategy due to the size of the company and the presence of a rival with governmental support. Hence, the most appropriate option for GoBus was to adhere to the policy of focused differentiation. The peculiarities of the GoBus strategy might be depicted as follows. The firm does not provide coach services throughout the whole country but covers the Galway to Dublin and Ballina to Galway routes.
Then, the company is orientated on the specific market niche and concentrates on achieving the highest quality of transportation. Moreover, GoBus does not tend to copy the strategy of its rivals but rather develops its own unique competitive approach. Finally, the main feature of the firm’s plan is the contemporary and comfortable fleet that stands outs among the ones presented in the niche. The described facts allow GoBus to gain sizable profits and still have a good growth capacity as the last expansion of the service coverage resulted in favourable development of the company.
It might be assumed that the strategy of focused differentiation is the winning one for GoBus. First, the pursued policy might demonstrate a dynamic fit with the business environment of the company. The most crucial aspect of the external situation of the company is the fact that there is a rival capable of dictating the market rules. However, Irish legislation restricts Bus Éireann from implementing complete monopoly and allows the competitors to gain considerable profits from being involved in the coach services provided.
Then, the firm is able to invest in its development and innovations, which might intensify its position among the competitors. Visible and differentiated competitive advantage could also compensate for the lack of experience and relatively weak refund policy. External favourable circumstances such as bus trips tendency and the stable governmental system might foster the implementation of the strategy.
Furthermore, the focused differentiation strategy might contribute to the firm’s achievement of a sustainable competitive advantage. The gradual extension of services has already led the company to increased profit margins; hence, GoBus might have some extra possibilities for investments. GoBus could develop its social media policy and improve the refund approach by taking into account the feedback obtained online. The modern fleet may become one of the many competitive advantages that are a vital aspect of any enterprise’s success. Creating an appropriate strategy founded on the progress within the specific niche will lead the company to a complete and deep understanding of what it is essential to improve.
The chosen approach brings about good performance as is evident from the company’s profitability. The firm’s current revenue reaches the mark of €9 million, which is quite a significant number in the realm of the niche business. Then, the firm’s main competitor on the Galway-Dublin route, Citylink, offers the same prices but provides worse coaches and quality of transportation.
Moreover, although Bus Éireann is the most popular company in the market, GoBus has a solid reputation, excluding its refund policy, and a number of clients. The popularity of the Galway-Dublin route is also an excellent condition that leads to a sound position in the market due to the strictly identified niche. It should be claimed that after purchasing the contemporary fleet and services expanding, GoBus increased its profits and took a step toward a prosperous company.
The strategy implemented by GoBus might be the most reasonable and appropriate for this company. The focus on the particular niche fits the size and type of the firm. Such an approach provides GoBus with the opportunity to apply flexible and informed policy. It might be concluded that the focused differentiation strategy of the firm has passed three necessary tests to be considered the winning one. It is a vital element in assessing the state of the art of the firm.
The conscious choice of GoBus regarding the direction of its activity might help to understand the core of this company’s performance. GoBus seems to have a qualified top management board that demonstrates a high degree of decision making and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the market.
After the discussion on the strategy being followed by GoBus, it might be critical to investigate and propose the ways for the company’s further direction. Identifying plans that the firm has for its future, as well as variants for growth and development, is the key element of the current examination of GoBus. The future possibilities reflect the capacity of the firm and might be a great framework for GoBus’s actions in the market of coach services. The following points and propositions will be founded on the above thorough and coherent research.
About GoBus.ie (no date) Web.
Ballina to Galway City route (no date) Web.
GoBus.ie Fleet (no date) Web.