How this young entrepreneur is disrupting the travel industry

Jason Goodson CSS Backyard Roadies

Jason Goodson quit his corporate job at the height of the pandemic to start a tour company – with no international tourists and in the face of several lockdowns. Here’s how he created a thriving business against the odds.

At a glance

A small business loan from Prospa helped Jason Goodson and Backyard Roadies to:

  • Save the business from potentially going under during a difficult time
  • Invest in marketing activities that have put the company back into profit and get it ready for the return of international tourism
  • Increase the number of tours to different locations throughout New Zealand

In August 2020, Jason Goodson was working from home in a corporate recruitment job that he no longer enjoyed. He’d spent the previous year as a tour guide in the Philippines and Thailand and wanted to go back to doing that.

Unfortunately the pandemic had heavily impacted the travel and tourism industries and most of the major tour companies weren’t hiring. “They said it was impossible,” says Jason. “But when you tell a young guy he can’t do something, it drove me to prove them wrong and to make my own pathway.”

That pathway is Backyard Roadies, a unique tour company that offers intimate, memorable adventures and experiences in New Zealand.

“I realised that I had to target a domestic audience,” explains Jason. “When the borders shut, locals still wanted to travel. Being a Kiwi who’s travelled overseas so much I forgot how beautiful our country is and why millions of people come all the way over here to witness the beauty.”

Jason opted to offer small-group experiences for 18-35-year-olds that provided deep connection – a move that no one else had tried at the time. “I wanted to teach people that there are ways to connect with others without relying on alcohol,” he says. “It’s also about connecting with yourself and giving you the confidence to travel again. We keep our tours at 12 people so everyone gets to know each other and create lifelong friendships.”

Just two months after starting the business, Jason ran his first trial tour in October 2020.

Growing the business after a setback

Things were going well until Jason was forced to cancel some tours and give customers full refunds when New Zealand went into lockdown again.

As he’d already spent some of his profits, Jason found himself in a challenging situation where he needed to quickly access funding.

At the time, Jason was hesitant in applying for a traditional bank loan due to some serviceability concerns.

That’s when a friend introduced him to Prospa. Jason applied for a small business loan over the phone which was approved the same day. “It was fantastic,” he says. “I took a couple of days to work out my finances and as soon as I signed the letter, the money came through immediately. There was a point where I probably would have lost the business but the loan saved me.”

Prospa’s small business loan enabled Jason to make the necessary refunds to customers, while investing in marketing activities to grow the business. This included social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, SEO content creation and branding. Jason has also set up Google advertising that’s ready to deploy as soon as New Zealand’s borders open for international travellers.

“I invested some of that money into areas where I knew we were going to make more money for the business and we’ve been thriving ever since,” says Jason. “The loan got me to recognise the importance of digital marketing.”

The funds helped Backyard Roadies quickly get back into profit and Jason was able to repay the loan in just two months. “I loved the flexibility Prospa gave me,” he says. “I didn’t have to be tied into a two-year payment plan. As soon as I got the loan, I started selling tours again. It helped me get back on my feet and relieved the financial pressure and stress, as well as helping to grow the business.”

“Prospa had my back when others couldn’t.”

NZ CSS Backyard Roadies

Living the dream

Jason, 27, is proof that it’s possible to live the life of your dreams, even when all the odds are against you. “Everyone was telling me not to quit my job during the pandemic,” he says. “I had so many doubters, but I trusted my gut and believed in myself.”

His self-belief and determination have paid off. His ‘office’ is his beach house where he enjoys swimming, surfing and kickboxing at the local gym.

Along with his staff, they run tours that include a four-day escape to far north New Zealand, a 10-day adventure in the South Island and a four-day getaway to the Abel Tasman national park.

So far over 150 people have taken part in a Backyard Roadies tour and the business is busier than ever, with a tour running every week, despite the continuing challenges of the pandemic.

“I’ve seen people meet on tour and become best friends and continue to hang out every weekend,” says Jason. “We’re changing lives and it’s one of the most beautiful and rewarding things to offer.”

Want to expand your offering and tap into a new demographic? Ask Prospa about a funding solution that keeps your small business moving.

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