Taking An Idea Literally Off The Beaten Track

Ever wondered how a business like Off The Beaten Track (OTBT) comes about? Well for Michele and Roy Connell, founders of OTBT the seed of an idea was planted after watching an episode of Country Calendar which gave them a lightbulb moment.

OTBT’s creation was born out of the knowledge that most of New Zealand’s best kept secret places are privately owned. Their vision was to connect holidaymakers with a taste of authentic rural New Zealand that is delivered through locations and experiences that are privately owned.

Michele and Roy Connell, dairy farmers of Matangi.

OTBT Receives Its First Funding

It was business growth ecosystem Soda Inc that first backed the idea giving Michele and Roy the confidence they needed to pursue their concept. With a mission of supporting start-ups, SMEs and business growth, Soda was the perfect fit for OTBT and Michele and Roy participated in their business incubation programme for start-ups.

“Soda connected us with some fantastic business growth advisors. We had never worked on an online business before, so the ability to work with experts in this field was hugely important”, says Michele.

Taking on Soda’s advice and having their thinking challenged, helped Michele and Roy navigate the unfamiliar territory they found themselves in and give them the momentum they needed to create the successful business OTBT is today.

Going on to receive a Qualmark, which sees OTBT recognised by Tourism NZ was a proud moment for the team with the trademark adding enormous value to the business.

“Still providing a supportive presence for the business, Soda has been with us along the whole journey, “says Michele. 

OTBT offers a selection of gorgeous handpicked rural properties like Idyllic Lodge Retreat in the Tasman region pictured.

The Idea Takes Off

As they say, the rest is history. History that now creates memories for people to experience New Zealand off the beaten track.  OTBT now has over 200 properties all around New Zealand and you won’t find any of them on a main road! They are secluded, private and many of them offering breath-taking views and fantastic experiences.

Their commitment also remains for the rural industry. “As dairy farmers we were also well aware of the financial challenges that face the rural industry,” says Michele. The flipside of this is landowners and farmers can monetize what they already own, and the discretionary holiday spend can be spread into the regions.

Do you think you’ve got a unique slice of New Zealand? Then we’ve got the holidaymakers wanting to experience it! Whether it’s a secluded spot by the river deep in your private bush, a quirky cottage, or an unused shearer’s quarters – all of it’s potential income. And together, we will get people Off the Beaten Track to your place. Find out more about listing your property here.

OTBT now has over 200 properties all around New Zealand.

Not without its challenges

Starting a business has not been without its challenges either with Covid-19 outbreaks and lockdown significantly impacting travel in New Zealand. For Michele who also owns local Hamilton event company Classic Events, which had effectively provided the funding for OTBT, she is balancing two Covid affected businesses.

Where to next?

So, what’s the future for OTBT? To become the ‘go to’ website for all travellers looking for an authentic rural escape and a holiday with a difference. And Michele’s advice to people who have an idea? Don’t delay in jumping in and doing it. “It is sometimes tempting to research extensively and fuss over the spreadsheets, but if you have confidence in your idea, there’s no better time than now to make it happen”.

Book your OTBT experience at www.offthebeatentrack.co.nz

Author: Monique Webb