Country Beats, Business Feats! 🎸
Welcome to another episode of the Accommodation Show! I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to share this particular episode with you all. Today, we’re diving deep into an exciting intersection where community meets entrepreneurship.
Looking to give your business a boost while simultaneously fostering a sense of unity in your local community? Well, my friends, we might just have the perfect solution right here. Enter the world of community events and festivals – a powerful tool for not only bringing people closer but also shining a spotlight on your locale as an inviting destination. Of course, orchestrating such an event involves strategic planning and careful execution.
Our guest today, Tim Mortimer, successfully navigated these waters amidst the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. He took his entrepreneurial flair, typically applied to his accommodation business, and channeled it into organizing a spectacular event named “A Night in Nashville in Orange.” Through this podcast episode, Tim opens up about his entire journey, from the initial brainstorming sessions to the selection of the venue, the coordination of vendors and entertainers, and the development of a compelling theme, all the way through to the marketing strategies that pulled in a crowd.
One aspect of Tim’s approach that stood out was his focus on rallying the local community. By encouraging their active involvement in the event planning process, he fostered a sense of unity, increased visibility for local businesses, and highlighted the incredible benefits of collaboration.
In this jam-packed episode, we’ll be exploring:
Local business growth via events 📈
Leveraging events for a business boost 🚀
Essentials of a successful event ✔️
Making your locale a must-visit 🌍
Strategies for locale promotion 📣
Step-by-step festival planning 📅
Event sponsorship for rentals 🏠
Engaging the business community 🤝
Creative theme selection and marketing 🎨
Tim Mortimer is the Founder and CEO of BNB Made Easy in Central West NSW. His experience in hospitality, teaching, and sports has helped Tim develop his business model around strong core values, culture, and positive guest experiences.
Founding his business in 2018, Tim is currently growing an STR portfolio that includes 140 properties across Orange, Bathurst, and Dubbo. Tim is an Author of the original Hospitable Hosts book and really enjoys the dynamic STR industry.
Today’s show provides valuable insights and tips on how to leverage events and festivals to drive business growth and build stronger communities. Tune in to this podcast to learn how to make your next event a success!
Bart: Okay, everybody, welcome back to The Accommodation Show. I am joined once again by the wonderful amazing Tim Mortimer. Welcome back to the show.
Tim: Fantastic to be back. Thank you very much.
Bart: I’ve been looking forward to this episode because we weren’t gonna try to bolt them all together. But I’ve managed to pin you down to get this episode recorded because today we’re going to be talking about working with the local community. We’re going to be talking about partnerships about how to create a destination for guests who want to come and visit and this is all pre-diluted by a story that Tim was telling me and I was like Jesus that’s unbelievable. I’m so excited to talk about this and to share it with the audience. You will love this. So Tim, before we get into it, can you do another brief introduction for everybody to let everybody know what your business is whereabouts you’re located and the other part which is going to lead into the episode? If you can tell us a little bit about your area.
Tim: I’m Tim Mortimer, founder and CEO of BNB Made Easy we’re in the central west of New South Wales so a couple of hours’ drive over the mountains from Sydney, inland currently managing about 140 properties in the region. And growing which is great. In Orange is a food and wine region. It’s got mining, it’s got health, and it’s quite a vibrant area. Orange is the town I’m in right now but in the whole region as well. We’ve got Dubbo that we service as well and both are very good towns in their own right and just good regions, in general.
Bart: So in terms of the region, I want you to set the scene for people that have never been to Australia before and about 60%, 70% of our audience are in the US and in the UK tell people that have never been how far isn’t the biggest city and then what did you learn in Sydney?
Tim: It’s beautiful is what to do in Sydney. But if you want the real country experience and you drive over the Blue Mountains, which would probably take you an hour and a half from Sydney and a car or train and then you start vacancies hit the table ends in the plains then just beautiful grassy areas, rolling hills, lots of farming orchards, sheep cow, some wildlife kangaroos and things like that to which, which I’m sure you’re overseas viewers. would enjoy. But then kind of halfway between Sydney and the Outback just on the other side of Davao is where the plane started gets really flat and starts getting a bit more sparse. And yeah, there’s a lot going on here. Like I said, we’re on a mountain we’re about 900 metres above sea level here so it’s we get all our four seasons very beautiful areas rich soils, very rich. So we have rolling vineyards and orchards and for the food and wine scene in Orange. it is incredible. So it’s an emerging wine region and it’s going to be a big thing in the future.
Bart: Wow. I’ve never been to orange.
Tim: I’m really from Brisbane and Melbourne as well.
Bart:So there’s a lot of farming that’s going on is tourism. Tell me about that kind of what does that look like? Is it a big part of the economy?
Tim: It definitely is it definitely for Orange. Tourism in the food and wine is what brings most of the tourism into town. So we have y month. It’s a whole month now of events in October and then autumn in Orange as far as the trees turning colour, like I said, we’re a bit of a cooler region. So we really have four seasons. Autumn is just in actually Orange got named as the number one destination in Australia for its autumn just right. So that kind of puts it in the scope as to where it should sit as far as the tourism that a brings to the town with just it’s the town’s just surrounded by big trees and they all change colour and it’s just a beautiful place to be so loved growing up here and really love welcoming our guests at this time of year for that reason.
Bart: Yeah, okay, so right so the tip that I should be taking is now.
Bart: Yeah, well now every time anytime it snows in the winter, Bathurst says about this 1000 Dubbo has got the Davos zoo and all the whole region matches just up the road as well. So the whole region is just vibrant and it’s just beautiful. It’s a great place to have landed in Australia. It’s really nice.
Bart: Yeah. Great. I think that sets the scene really well. And for those of you that haven’t visited now’s the time to go and have a visit if you’re in the accommodation space, then hit up about him. Mr. Watermark now, so and that kind of leads me to the next stage and I’d like you to just tell me a little bit about sort of population size and local community so you’re obviously a business owner in the community. And that is something which is incredibly important to bring people in be tourists and that sort of thing. And to support them, so yeah, tell me a bit about that.
Tim: Yeah, definitely. In this country towns around this region. They’re all really big on community. It’s an Australian in Australian country and you know things happen bushfires, floods, drought, everything something’s happening is always a reason to support each other and therefore the sense of community is very, very strong and also you know, COVID and things like that. We were all know families that you know, go to school with and then if you’re in a business partnership with and you’ll see some businesses really struggle from time to time and there’s no better thing than a community to look after each other at times get tough. So the sense of community in these towns around this region and no country Australia is it’s very, very strong and therefore it’s a great place to meet. If something does happen, you know, that they’ll be supporting, they’ll have your back and you’ll be able to have their background and if someone else is struggling, we’ve had floods recently which have wiped out towns it’s been horrible, and the sense of community shines in those times. And every weekend, still people are going out there to help build those towns up now.
Bart: I mean, and it’s just so critical. And I think that that sense of community in town just in the metropolitan areas, it doesn’t exist, right like, I’ll give you this like in the building where I live, you know, there are neighbours that will walk past me and put their head down and not want to engage and say hello,
Tim: it’s hard it’s actually pretty hard to have a friend and just smile and say goodbye. I think it and that’s probably part of tourism as well. Just nice country hospitality. We get a lot of comments and people just everyone was so friendly. And that’s kind of what you come into when you come into these smaller towns with Sydney.
Bart: Okay, so let’s get into the topic for today. So, running a festival in a town but not being a festival. organised an opponent of it being a short-term rental host and property manager. What is going on there, Tim?
Tim: Just an audience away, I think but, you know, definitely being part of being a host of property managers helped me see and guide me to be putting on this festival and now it’ll be part of the second year and will definitely continue in the future. But yeah, it was. It was during COVID that the idea came and it was that exactly that community. Businesses were struggling. The restaurants were closed, families were struggling. And the sense of community was low because we couldn’t even get out to talk to each other. So I just thought and I had my team as well. I needed to motivate and boost morale and I just thought, wouldn’t it be great to get everyone together? When we can like say set a date, we hopefully predict when and when it was going to the lockdowns here lockdowns, we got to lift sorry.
And then just have a place like there’s nothing like live music and our artists were the ones who probably suffered the most they because they rely on weddings and people being together to perform their industry. So number one, support the artists who would really suck numbers to get the community together. After and then adults as well. We’ll start with kids at home for a long long time and that’s hard for anyone so it was just like this get the adults together after COVID and then being in this insurance industry of travel of easy skin. This is an event that can be put on and it can start drawing people to town so yeah, just a little idea that grew into something that we put on and very successfully put on the other team members we had the time and we had the project management tools to be able to do a little bit of learning but you don’t learn unless you get in and have a go and yeah, yeah, we ended up with an event called a night in Nashville. In Orange.
Bart: Wow. So a night in Nashville. Okay, let’s go back a little bit. Because the result is going to come to everybody as we develop through this episode and you’ll find out what it kind of ended up being but the idea and there are two parts which are crucial for people in accommodation and in hospitality to pick up from this. And the main one being is it can be a massive business driver in terms of creating some sort of an event or some sort of reason to visit a particular area but then you’ve got this sense of community now and obviously you had COVID as well mixed in there, which was kind of giving you another angle as well. So you’re thinking alright, what can we do to support the local community? What can we do to engage with people, to make it a destination for people to visit like we’ll set up a festival or event? Now did you know the theme of the event did you know and what size you’re going to build the to? How did that process kind of go to do go through to get to where you ended up?
Tim: Yes. So partly because of COVID as well no one could travel not even interstate let alone overseas and people were longing for that. I know people do so we thought well, let’s bring in Australia loves the country music. Let’s bring the country music scene to Orange. So we found a venue which was kind of like a big old American Bar. Once we dressed it up and we’ll just end with the back in the day where you one person per two square metres kind of rule that kept us off at 400 people each night that we could have which was quite a big event to commit to but we were sure that it would work so so we did sell out very quickly because everyone was a pretty event starved and mostly just to look so the two years are quite different.
So we’re going to talk about the differences there and what we learned from the first year into the second year. So the first few were really local 85% of our tickets were from within our postcode and like I said, but its goal was to bring everyone together and that’s what it was. That’s what we did. And it was just so happy to see adults having fun again and talking catching up over a beer and a bit of music is now not the bit of a bit of music and a theme to support that. Get dressed up and just have a dance and have a senior in Australia that times are pretty crazy at a wedding. You had to sit down and you weren’t allowed on the dance floor. It was pretty nuts. We just got through that which was great. Just maths just came off a week before. Yeah. So yeah, so that was kind of lucky with our timing because it was a bit of a gamble. But that worked. That doesn’t go into this YouTube.
Bart: Also COVID was a catalyst you know had COVID not happened you might have never done this event to begin with.
Tim: Most likely wouldn’t have known because we would have just been very busy with the property management side of things. But then here’s the here’s a really cool thing. What we learned is from the first year and knowing that this is starting to spread on social media that she’s really we can really impact the town in a positive way if we can sell this to more people out of town. And then bring them to town. Obviously, this one benefit of you know, selling them out our properties as well as supporting our clients and the local businesses here and then also, we play a big role in encouraging our guests to spend in the local area.
So supporting other local businesses around town as well. So the first year 85% were local the second year 45% of a local and 55% came in from out of town and the bulk of that has been from Sydney but we had people from Melbourne and Brisbane and Central Queensland and everywhere come down and it’s I would have been invited a few people in the country music’s not everyone’s thing but you know, it doesn’t matter. It’s log music and it and everyone’s a country fan DPMA and all the songs and that’s the thing is Nashville. We’re doing American campus so it’s everyone knows the songs. Yeah, anyway, we, it looks like this event will continue and grow well into the future and positively impact everyone around it, including those people who love and just want to attend.
Bart: Yeah. So look, folks, if you want to have a look at the festival, the link will be in the show notes. But Tim just in case someone wants to multi-screen what was that there’s domain still running with the festival. Is that right?
Tim: Yeah. So we’ve set up a website and not in Nashville.The best place to see how good it is probably on Instagram, which is the same thing and not in Nashville.
Bart: If anyone’s listening, have a look and sort of get a bit of inspiration because I’m going to change the narrative a little bit because there’s a community in which I’m a massive believer in when we run hospitality businesses or any business working with the community. It makes us feel better about what we do as well. Quite often though, when we’re running businesses like a short-term rental business, even nowadays we don’t really see our guests so much we don’t really see the low committee we don’t have like a hotel on the corner that people come in and out of and that sort of thing. You’ll be known as that guy who runs the short-term rentals or the Airbnb is but not you kind of that pillar of the community. It’s not as visible apart from within your vertical of the business you’re working with. And I hope you understand what I mean and a lot of people would empathise with that hopefully going I will but I manage properties and I can do more than that and work with my community.
One of the things that I noticed when I looked at the website was that you were kind of the leader in this event and B&B Made Easy was this key sponsor. Two questions am I correct? Is that right? And the other one is, was there anything you had to think about when putting your brand into it that it makes sense to the average Joe in terms of their level here? Oh, hold on a second. Why is there this? This short-term rental company.
Tim: Good question. So in the first year, we branded a really heavy lip presented by the book Orange and I thought that we really want that book Orange doesn’t exist anymore. But I really wanted to I just felt like we’re putting this effort in. Let’s just see how that works with our branding.
Bart: So sorry, I’m gonna jump hit sorry. So book Orange was a brand that you will run at the same time.
Tim: It was something that I tried, which was born out of COVID and again, it was the whole community let’s keep like the importance of supporting our locals and keeping the money in the region rather than service fees being sent overseas so however it’s been decided since that, that we’re just that we’ve sort of pulled it out and then put it back in it’s all under the b&b Made Easy brand new.
Bart: Okay. And then just for that concept of Bitcoin so that they’ve had that people are thinking of going down this path so that they can have that learning from you. Was it just your properties that you’re listing on there? Or was it local businesses as well?
Tim: But the idea was, and we might get back to a point where we can support it, it wasn’t a really viable business model. As in we were, we were trying to go in too many different directions at once. So it wasn’t overly supported to its strength that we needed it to. And therefore it wasn’t viable to the point that we needed it to be and we ended up just being kind of like a visitor centre, just helping people at the cost of an employee. So it wasn’t it just didn’t end up being a viable thing. But something that we tried and not everything works perfectly in business. There have been as long as you can analyse that and make decisions based off of the data that you have, but that’s okay. It’s a good positive mistake that we’ve made a workflow. That’s not a mistake in any way because it may reemerge.
Bart: Yeah, that’s right. And look, if you’re in any kind of business, you’re gonna have fail all the time, but different things are gonna try different things and they’re just expenses you build into the business and you gotta be okay with it. There’s times when you’re going to lose $1,000 $10,000 $20,000 As long as you don’t, as long as you are smart about it. You try to learn from all of those mistakes, but it’s just part of business, right?
Tim: You cannot go far in business without trying something and it not working as long as you’re switched on enough to understand that it’s not working and cut back costs when you need to. You’ll be okay, so I’ve learned so much business as well. I’ve only been at it for a few years, four years, but I’m always learning we spoke about this before but that growth mindset of what works what doesn’t work and developing yourself and always growing and has led us to pull back for clients as far as branding goes. Just stick with the BMV Matt is you’ve got the direct site at the B&B Made Esy now.
Bart: I just want to reiterate for everybody this is four years worth of work and 150 properties plus a festival now in the middle of Yeah, right. Okay, so let’s just, I want to keep going down this path so that we can give people as much value as possible. So they’re thinking of these collaborations, these community events and really putting something on and thinking outside the box again excited about maybe something they’re more passionate about or that they are passionate about. They can do this sort of thing. So now with the brandings, we’ve got B&B Made Easy so is it present presented at night in Nashville presented by Airbnb Made Easy? Is that the branding or sorry?
Tim: That’s what we’re getting through? No, it wasn’t it was just supported by our team. So the second year we wanted to get sponsors on and we had a fair few people and local businesses from the first few who sell Lucknow skin shop sell boots, like local clothing stores, they end they ended and these are the businesses relationships that you have in town that it doesn’t matter. They just want to support you anyway because they want another event in town so you’re fine. You’re fine people like that who are happy just to throw a bit of money across the table to support me and my team in making this for the town so I there was no sort of heavy leaning across towards we made a brand new as b&b Made Easy not at all, it was just more.
There are benefits that come out of hosting an event if it works and financially. It really supported us through the month it’s been typically one of the quietest months as well. So we were going to benefit from it anyway. But I really wanted this to be a community event for people to spread the news people to enjoy local artists to be supported as well as some travelling artists in the second year. So yeah, I chose not to brand it as hard b&b Made Easy however sorry and I must say that when we were selling the accommodation Yes, that’s where I chose to charm my business and with all the ticket sales, we gave them a discount code on accommodation at b&b mateys. Direct results from that. Yeah, so we were 85% booked that weekend and the rest of the town was 34% booked that weekend, so I put in a good result. It’s also a good result for our guests, but it also plays as part in client retention as well like even one of the I play on the second year. was just when I placed it on the typically the quietest weekend in Orange second weekend of February, which everyone does their school holiday spends their money and then goes back to routine. Come February. In Australia, like naturally a quiet weekend, but we managed to turn our portfolio into an 85% Booked weekend we can because of this event as well as bring more people to town and support the local businesses that would have been quieter on that weekend.
Bart: And so the other thing that I saw is that you have the city support as well.
Tim: Yes, so we reached out, they have a grant kind of system and we got a little bit of sponsorship money, which is just within their policy that as a junior event that they support a little bit so we actually hired one of their venues as well. So yeah, that’s always great to have that support and backing it is this event is privately owned. So there are a lot of grants that we can’t apply for or be approved for and I’m learning that along the way as well. However, I suppose the risk there is an element of risk there, that if the event was to not work in any way financially, it would be our business that suffered. However, it did work. We had to work hard to sell our tickets. This time, especially post-COVID. But the event was a success and from all feedback that we did send out. Most people want it to go again, they will come back definitely and tell their friends and kind of reassuring.
Bart: And one thing that I think just for those who are saying I’m just gonna just copy Tim and do the same, I’ll just do an event just so that you know an event is effectively setting up a brand new business with all of the bells and whistles that you need for that you need your website. You need your marketing, you need people you need everything. So it’s another business a whole new business that you bring up on the side. Would you agree with that?
Tim: Yeah, I’d like to make pretty some pretty strong learnings that we’ve only made so the very first thing that we put it on our I didn’t know the weight of it. It was a lot of weight and I worked really hard to get it there because I wanted it to work. But it was quite frazzled for a couple of months following just because it had impacted our property management business a little bit. Just because of the time of that, we would take profit. So was learning the second year. We set up some sort of firm procedures in place we had everything to build from last year, and that’s what you’re doing business with to make minimal minimal impact on the BND Made Easy, everyday business and then also to allow the Nashville business event to go ahead as well. So definitely had a fair bit of strategy around it not impacting our staff.
Bart: What I want to finish up on is there the community side of things, so we talk about bringing new visitors into the area, bringing economic benefits to everybody, that sense of community when you are on the dance floor with the people that are sponsored the event and that sort of thing, which is priceless. Can you tell me a bit about whether there has been an impact that’s measurable that you’ve noticed in terms of your relationship with the local community? That sort of maybe it’s not as tangible but yeah, the kind of the non-tangible benefit.
Tim: It varies as a tool. So we measure our occupancy on price I’ve got a very good tool that you can see how our portfolio versus the market which is a town sale, so we can visually see that however, what else we’ve done as well with this provides a service to or an opportunity to our clients and some of our clients came on as sponsors, which is great, but some of our clients just attended with it with a discounted rate and early bird sort of thing. So to kind of add that enhancing that relationship with our clients on top of having their properties you’re more booked in the profile of the business in the community being raised. It was a bit of a client retention sort of tool because they were part of our journey and they came and they enjoyed and got to a cup of talk to them on a much more casual basis. And got to be part of any events that is all the teams also managing their home and you know, it’s just as long as far as an opportunity to show that we do work really hard and we are providing a good service and you know, just to have that personal relationship and obviously, everyone likes a little bit of advantage as well. So we got them early bird tickets and looked after them wherever we could at that event and around that event as well.
Bart: Amazing, last one for me for this episode. Of course, some people may be inspired by this kind of event. You’re gonna have 20 nights in Nashville popping up. Have you copyrighted it? So just for anyone else that is thinking of doing community engagement type of events. Have you had any other ideas or anything else that’s come with this, obviously, you know, the idea is just one part of the actual execution is anything you would kind of guide people and say, Hey, think about this? Or you could do different kinds of events or
Tim: Yeah, we’ve tried another event as well and decided that’s not worth pursuing. But the event was incredible. It just financially it wasn’t going to work for us as a business. So that was a bit of a pre-lab market, but we couldn’t work out ladies selling their clothes in a shared space-like market but then insurance when we look deeper into insurances and things like that, and we couldn’t make that much revenue there. So we decided to go against it but I think if it’s anything if it’s a good idea, and you know your community know your town and you know it’s going to work it’s probably worth chasing and trying. If you’re not too if you’re not getting those feelings that you’re sure like a bit of advice is to try your hardest to make it not impact your everyday businesses there’s nothing worse than then not being able to do what you’re meant to be doing and not being able to do something else because you’re just too busy and scattered and flustered all the time. So if you’re going to commit and you know it’s going to be a good idea commit and do it really well. Otherwise, it might impact you in a negative way. If it’s not really sought out as a business as you said. I love it.
Bart: Tim I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your time. You coming on, twice and I love the journey that you’ve been on and I’m looking forward to sharing your journey and seeing what you come up with next. For the next one, I want my invitation please, I’m ready to come down or come up.
Tim: Yeah Bart, subscribe to our website and you will be the first one to know about it.
Bart: I take that invite is open to anyone as well, right?
Tim: Anyone that will, yes.