How Magic Happens When You Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Interviewed on March 12, 2021

In this episode, digitally discover…

  • How the owners of Acacia Caravan Park, Matt & Kaylene Linsley have navigated the journey of owning and running a small tourism business with practically no prior experience. 
  • How the dynamic husband and wife team manage to work together successfully while raising 4 kids.
  • How to embrace a video marketing plan like no one we have seen.
  • Helpful advice to other operators fearful of the unknown of digital or getting in front of the camera to produce video.
Digital Discovery Show - Matt & Kaylene Linsley

Despina Karatzias 0:27
And Hello, good morning, Happy Happy Friday and happy Welcome to the digital discovery show. It’s Episode 21. It’s like our 21st birthday. And I have, like always some very special guests to join us on the show today. Now this show if it’s the first time you joined us, it is brought to you by the wonderful team at Tourism Tribe and Navii Digital. And we are all about digital discovery and digital transformation not only in our marketing but in all things, efficiencies and capability and building our capacity to work smarter in our wonderful Australian small businesses. Now speaking of a wonderful, small business with big hearts, I’ve got a special guest today special guests plural husband and wife team Matt and Kayleen Linsley from Acacia Caravan Park, and units. So the topic we’re going to cover today, I have really, it really suited to our guest today of why getting out of your why the magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone. Let’s give you a little bit of a background behind Matt and Kaylee. They are a dynamic duo mum and dad team, married for 24 years and shed four children together. Five years ago, a dental nurse and stay home mama went on to the journey to buy and leasehold, Acacia Caravan Park. And rightly so we’re going to hear about their life changing journey together. So moving to era with their three kids from Melbourne starting a new business, what could possibly go wrong? And what did go right for them. So they’ve been operating the park since December 2016 and have grown quickly and successfully to grow their wonderful business. So welcome to the show, Matt and Kayleen yay Hi there. I’m going so well and so much better that I can catch up with you guys. Now I had the good fortune It was probably about two years ago when I delivered training out in the Grampians that I’ve got to stay with you in the wonderful because it was quite new the units then one day when I had joined you, so welcome to the show. Thank you for coming along. I mean, you can see there guys full disclosure, that’s not any fancy filter behind them. This is the real deal set up at the caravan park. So tell us met Matt and Kayleen there, Kayleen I know she might need to duck out you know, running wearing many hats. If that phone calls, phone rings, we don’t let it go. But well, uh well I have you both here. Tell us about your part of the world where you are. And what was the driving force behind leaving Melbourne and basing yourself say in Acacia and starting this new adventure together?

Matt Linsley 4:04
Hey, good morning. Um, yeah, I suppose for us the big driving force, we wanted to buy a caravan park and we’re here in western Victoria, you know, right. So we’re to Wales out of Melbourne as part of our strategy of looking at where the boy caravan park and you know, we did that full circle around round Melbourne and we came across this beautiful little park in our app that needed a little bit of love and we were prepared to give it the love so it was um, it was a match made in heaven for us but anyway, it’s good.

Despina Karatzias 4:36
Second match made in heaven first with each other right? I have so so before the show before you were telling me Kayleen a dental nurse by trade that’s what you did and a spark you buy it from that which I imagine will come in very handy in a caravan and tourist Park being able to do a lot of that

Matt Linsley 5:00
Sparky saw it not so much the potential side so.

Despina Karatzias 5:05
So tell me so without having that that tourism or visitor servicing background, how did you go with that journey of realizing and stepping into the tourism space for you?

Matt Linsley 5:19
We’ve talked about this and we think probably for about two or three, I’m probably for about 10 years, we used to go to caravan parks with a family and, and we’d always look at it, we go, you know what we can do this one day. And it just got to a point in our lives where we go, Well, if we don’t do it now, we’re never going to and we felt that we would be a good fit for timing.

Matt Linsley 5:39
We said it really well. And so we just jumped in, headfirst and, and had a crack. And yeah, for four and a half years later, almost where we’re here talking to you.

Kaylene Linsley 5:52
We did used to say I will do it when we’re a bit older. But it’s Yeah, I’m glad we’re not older.

Despina Karatzias 5:59
Right? That’s something like things like this that you aspire to you have a dream about, especially when you’re on holidays, I think when you’re kind of away from your day today and you’ve gone go away and holidays, you do start to dream about these things. And that’s the only thing you raise, because someone’s like, oh, when we retire in a lot of people do you know, that’s when they’re a bit more comfortable? So it’s a good segue to my next question because you have had an adventure every time I kind of catch up with you guys there is there’s more growth and more learning. That would be one of them? That you the fact that you did just go straight into it get out of your comfort zone and do it now?

Matt Linsley 6:40
Yeah, I think yeah, I think for us like it was, it was the right time in our life to do it. Kids were at the right age, right? Yeah, we left one on one with our oldest son back in Melbourne. But you know, we don’t miss him too much.

Kaylene Linsley 6:57
He’s in Korea in Melbourne. So the other three? Yeah. So that is just the age, you know, one was going into your night one was going into your 11. It was just the perfect. Yeah, you wouldn’t do it during phases, but it was a perfect end for us.

Despina Karatzias 7:15
And the learnings along the way, like having not, you know, had you owned a business before going into it. So working as employees, majority of your working career, owning your own business, you’re in a completely new industry within tourism and the caravan in world and space. And then you’ve got the whole all the other elements that come staff operations, market marketing your business, tell us some of that of those key learnings and to give everyone I mean, they’ve Matt and Kayleen have been star students I have mentioned recently and we love to highlight the real action takers that kind of come into our programs. And you know, they don’t see you, they just don’t show show up or sign up and, and do nothing. So it’s been really wonderful to see. But I’d love to learn from you what have been some of your key learnings in going through this, this journey?

Matt Linsley 8:18
Well, I think I think from day one, we started learning and we haven’t stopped since you know, it was you know, from being employed from a company for you know, I was with, with the last company for over 26 years, getting out of their comfort zone, running a business running in a you know, a dynamic business too, because we’ve got, you know, we’ve got caravan park, but we’ve got motel units and all that sort of stuff. So it’s really, you know, it was a steep learning curve, learning about all your, all your taxes, and basses and all that sort of stuff. And then we started employing people. So then dinner is a massive step when you start employing people because you’ve got to have all your, you know, boxes ticked along the way and create a good environment for people to work in. And, and yeah, and I was just, you know, from even from last year, when COVID sort of hit them we had you know, we had we did a lot of internal learning with with our staff and with ourselves. And you know, the biz caper was just another one that we just jumped on and just strive to keep going and keep doing more and more.

Kaylene Linsley 9:29
Some, yeah, every day we learn every time something happens, we learn from it and just keep moving forward.

Despina Karatzias 9:40
You’ve done such a good job, but that is a really important thing that you’re keeping yourself green and growing and keep up the learnings and I know that there’s a lot of unforeseen circumstances and I really appreciate like you’ve experienced today, particularly around people manage And relying on others, how have you found that experience as well of like finding the right team to join you on this journey?

Matt Linsley 10:11
It’s a continual one, that one. So yeah, obviously, when we first started here, we had one casual employer, you worked with 15 hours a week. And, you know, we’re now up to five employees who do you know, on average that 25 to 30 hours a week? And then you you know, so we’ve grown massively, but with that comes, you know, consequences as well and responsibilities and we’re trying to we’re always searching to try and find the right people to work for us. And it’s, it’s not that easy in a small country town either. But you, but the right people eventually do stumble upon your doorstep. And, you know, we think we’re in a good position keeping moving forward. So

Despina Karatzias 10:57
it’s, it’s really wonderful. If anyone that doesn’t know where error is or the Grampians. Could you just let us know your favourite one that would like to come to visit just exactly in terms of like distance from Melbourne? How far in which direction and the state that you?

Matt Linsley 11:13
Yeah, we’re from Melbourne, west of Melbourne. So we’re in, in sort of Central Victoria, central Western Victoria, I suppose you’d say, two hours from the West Gate Bridge. And we’re we’re about 40 minutes from the Grampians. So we get a lot of visitors through the Grampians. And, and yeah, it’s, you know, we’re only just we’re on the highway, we’re just down the road. So it’s,

Kaylene Linsley 11:36
we’re located in town, so short walking distance up to the Main Street, the shops, the parks, tourist attractions. So we’re in a good position here.

Despina Karatzias 11:48
Oh, it’s great. And like you were sharing earlier, even going through this been a lot of hardship with a lot of operators through these COVID. Period, you’ve, you’ve managed to still maintain level of growth within your business, which is really outstanding. And speaking of Grampians, in the tourism, we had surina, on the show last week, in terms of how have you, how have you felt held valuable? Have you found that type of support from your local business community?

Matt Linsley 12:24
I think it’s enormous, you know, especially with Serena and marks, Leyland and, you know, we, we piggyback off the gate of the Grampians. And we get those benefits, you know, when they, when they have these opportunities to do this paper and all that sort of stuff, we get asked to do stuff, because we always participate, we always try and we’re always trying to learn and get ourselves in a better position, you know, and it’s better, it’s super, super easy for, you know, the gradients to forget about these little towns that surround us, but we’re such an important part of them. So,

Kaylene Linsley 12:57
and we’re included in that as well. So it’s great, like you feel the love so and also our low our business association that’s here in our as well, offering COVID that we’re doing zooms every week, and it just gave you a bit more purpose

Matt Linsley 13:15
connected, keeps everyone connected. And you actually, you know, you can learn from all these other businesses and their areas as well. So if you, if you don’t participate, you’ll you sort of get left behind a bit. So it’s very, it’s very, very important.

Despina Karatzias 13:30
message and I think that is it’s a testament you can just say through your energy and your participation. It’s a, you’ve heard that analogy. It’s kind of like being members or you know, having a gym membership that you can kind of be a member of something or be part of it. But if you’re not actively showing up and doing the work and participating, you’re not going to get much out of out of that. And it’s a it’s a good testament, but what really inspired me and your coach clear. So part of this program that you did with the Digital Bizkeeper, we had, we have included in that some one-on-one coaching sessions. And when Claire shared with the team that she had a one on one session with you and I just I want to take the time to just bring it up on the screen. She really encouraged you you looked at video and now you’ve taken a really great you’re continuing your journey of learning through video and getting in front of the video which you can see your naturals was this video and I’m just about to to share it here. Was this a first time of doing something like this met

Matt Linsley 14:43
pretty much clear, clearly did push my boundaries a little bit. And she said to me, she goes I want you to set me a task to do and she goes I just want you to do this on a local attraction. And the actual basis of that was because would actually we’d had a discussion with Claire the week before About a another, another attraction down the road that she was liking, she was mesmerized by her enthusiasm for it. So this was, this was like our first attempt, and it was you know, it’s a bit rough, but it still gets across like what we wanted to do. But you know, we will go through a course at the moment that actually enhances us being able to use video and everything and, and that’s really the microphones, yes, it’ll get more professional, but it’ll be more entertaining as well. So it’s something we want to sort of pursuing down the road and keep keep, keep that.

Despina Karatzias 15:39
It’s, it’s, it’s so brilliant. And one of the brilliance about it is one getting out of your comfort zone, stepping, stepping, stepping into something new. What I love about it is just showcasing something that is in your backyard. So it’s not necessarily about you, but you’re taking so much leadership and ambassadorship for your region, and you’re giving them you’re giving visitors a reason. Another reason to come to stay in region. And of course, then being a leader of in that space, if I’m going to come visit, because you’re the one that’s educated me about this local attraction I’ve got, I’ve now got tunnel vision of where I’m going to stay because I only know you, and you’ve made it bigger than what it is because now I’m getting to know Matt and Kayleen. Now I’m getting to know the people behind the business, which is just so

Matt Linsley 16:38
as I say, people, by people, so

Despina Karatzias 16:40
yeah, no people by people, so you’re just leading by such great example there. So how is that so that has really kind of gotten you motivated and inspired to do more of these videos. Have you done more? Since that one?

Matt Linsley 16:59
Yeah, we’ve done a couple word where we’re really, I think, like, when we look back at that first one, and then we look at the others that we’ve been doing and and you know, as I said, I’ve been doing this course, and we got a couple of weeks ago, and, and learning everything for that all the time as well. But it’s, it’s just inspired us to want to, you know, showcase what we’ve got here because then people will come and see and they’ll stay obviously for us. We want people to come and stay but it’s, you know, people don’t realize the beautiful, you know, tourism events that are around here that you know, the GM scenes and the J wards and the and the airedales and ghost tours and wineries and everything else, you know, so there’s a lot to say.

Despina Karatzias 17:44
And pictures, tell 1000 words, but video just is taking on a whole nother level of bringing in that experience and bringing in your audience to that we do have thank you for joining us we’ve got Julie and she said really admire your courage and grit to get in and give new things ago particularly with your video. I certainly think so to Julie it’s going to be paying off. And you know, what I you mentioned earlier too little bit, you know, rough around the edges, but that’s also what adds so much authenticity to that, that getting to know your of the people buying people, right?

Matt Linsley 18:24
That’s a little bit rough around the edges, but we get there.

Despina Karatzias 18:29
Oh, look, it’s it’s excellent and being consistent with it. And now it sounds like you’re putting a plan and the strategy together. Have you been able I mean, you you’re wearing a lot of hats you’re doing a lot in your day to day business including showing up to a live show like this, but we need to really make the plans and and have a strategy towards it. Have you found that like in terms of doing more and you’re getting more strategic with your video marketing,

Matt Linsley 18:59
it’s more strategic and it’s more I take targeted but it’s more personalized Yeah, it’s what we get out of the area and that and that sort of comes through in what we’re trying to do. But it’s Yeah, it’s it is hard finding time because you’ve got to wear a million hats but but when you apply yourself and you know you get these strategies in place that actually makes it easier to be able to find the time to do these things.

Kaylene Linsley 19:27
And sometimes we look at things without our we should have done that it’s like a missed opportunity. But yeah, it was he’s been experimenting with the drone and with slow motion, Time Lapse and doing all those sorts of things and putting them all together. So just to watch Matthew do that as well. It’s like, oh, wow, that’s so clever.

Despina Karatzias 19:52
So I saw together here I’ve seen this video. Is that something that you’ve put together there?

Matt Linsley 20:00
He says that was very, very Association during, you know, sort of COVID last year. And you know, that’s just another thing that we’ve participated in, and then you get a lot of benefit out of it, because it’s it’s about recognition and people, you know, see these little snippets. And you know, it’s engaging them, and they just want to see more. And yeah, we did

Kaylene Linsley 20:20
one on a chessboard. It was Yeah, we did. We, we did a chessboard with giant chess pieces. And, yeah, we had it there for a while, but we just hadn’t had a chance to get back to it to paint it. So when we Oh, kainate we then Matthew had the drone. And he had, yeah, oh, this is one that he did. This is a time lapse when he did this some on Thursday. I think it was with all our caravans coming in for the weekend. Yes. So you’ll see the time lapse of it. Yes. So just playing around and, and experimenting. And yeah,

Matt Linsley 20:56
it’s pretty cool. It’s just not.

Kaylene Linsley 21:01
We did the other one on on Tuesday, we pulled the linen from the weekend. So laundry was full of the laundry, and then it disappeared. And then it got folded, and then it built up again. And it was all on a time lapse as well. And yeah, we haven’t picked that one up. But that one we do for ourselves because there was so much laundry.

Despina Karatzias 21:22
Like, but what I love you’ve got some music.

Matt Linsley 21:32
Just in case it’s building, we did a bit of promotion at the at the end of February for people to use their dog washing and we ended at half price of that. And it just helps people to come and visit local people to come and see what we have to offer in our caravan parks.

Despina Karatzias 21:52
So good. So now you’re really putting in clear call to actions and using video even for these seasonal and, and short term kind of campaigns that you have going. Excellent. really excellent.

Matt Linsley 22:09
Gene, it’s about learning what works. Yeah, unless you unless you do something you don’t know if it works a lot. And it’s I think one thing I’ve learned over the last four years, and we’ve tried a lot of different things. Unless you have a go, you don’t know. So you have to really dive in the deep end and go You know what, we’ll see if this works. And then if it does beautiful, if it doesn’t, then you go, we’ll put that on the back burner, but it’s, it’s a

Despina Karatzias 22:36
day, if you don’t give it a go, you’ll never ever know, Isn’t that the truth. But what I love more than anything of what I’m seeing here, Matt is that you’re you’ve found a bit of a talent here. And something that you enjoy, I just say you’re like you found a hidden talent within video production. I can just see both of you having a bit of fun with this, which is important to

Matt Linsley 23:01
think of you enjoy doing it too. Like it’s not a choice at all, you know, he enjoyed doing it, then it comes across because you know, we just we always say like, you know, people don’t come to our route necessarily for for no reason. They need a reason to come here. If we can provide them a reason to come to Wales out of Melbourne and driving to our caravan parked in them, we do their job properly. So it’s, it’s it’s exciting as well, you know, so it’s, you know, it’s nice when you when you do something, and then people go to comment and like it more that sort of stuff. But it’s, yeah, it’s a lot different to taking a photo of something and not having that interaction with us. It’s quite good

Despina Karatzias 23:44
100% and you send a YouTube channel to go here too, because that’s what I haven’t put here. Have you started your own YouTube channel, YouTube sensation, that’s name

Matt Linsley 23:55
we played we were talking to clear about that the other week, and it’s just trying to refine what I’m doing a little bit. And you know, one thing I’ll probably do wrong is I overthink things a little bit and I just try and wait for it to be a little bit better but the actual rawness of it is actually an attraction as well. So it’s avoiding getting yourself into gear and get that done. So it’s something that we want to do moving forward. So you know, it’s important.

Despina Karatzias 24:24
With so much in the vault now, already your YouTube channel, you know, you get that created, and you’ve already have like a solid good base of content that you can pop on there. So I would highly recommend that your next piece of homework in the journey is start with YouTube. And then from then on and everything that you’re publishing, like as you can see, like I showed earlier, that’s all sitting there wonderfully as a video channel on your Facebook page. But the benefit that you’ll get with YouTube is that it’s hard. It’s you know, it’s the world’s second largest search engine. So we don’t want to miss this opportunity of the great work. You’re doing so good.

Matt Linsley 25:02
Everything evolves to like all the Facebook, when we first came to this caravan park, the Facebook had like 80 bytes of a page. And, and it was really, you know, no one gave it any love, we’re, you know, we’ve pushed it and we’re up to the you know, I think 1200 or something like that at the moment, but in some way need something else to spark it to to to move to that next sort of level as well. And, you know if this, if this helps us to do that, and videos, you know, videos are just engaging, people just want to, they get that first little sniff of it, and they just want to watch more you know, and it’s if you can, if you can find things that people want to watch, then then it’ll help us move forward and get our brand out there as well.

Despina Karatzias 25:47
It’s, it’s so important. And in, in light of the journey that you’ve had with digital with, with business with video now, because you’ve experienced yourself now digital, it’s so much more than just Facebook or Instagram or having a website, video is another real, it’s another, it requires another level of planning and energy around that, for anyone else that’s watching and has has kind of really hesitated because of fear of being very much out of their comfort zone when it comes to video. Because I could see, you don’t need much equipment or anything expensive either. Do you meet with video? What would we?

Matt Linsley 26:36
I suppose for us, it’s just jumping into it, just do it, you know, like people like me ourselves over his time with with a lot of things. And once you jump into it and do it, then it’s like what did not do that earlier? You know? So don’t hesitate and have a have a go. Because as I said before, you don’t know unless you have a go. And if you you know if it turns out a flop then it’s like, well, it is what it is. But if it turns out a success, then Buddhism,

Despina Karatzias 27:04
how good is it would have been like with your Digital Bizkeeper. So you did a six-week program and you had two coaching sessions and you had a digital health check on your business. Can you think of like some real key takeaways apart? Obviously, video has been a real big one for you out of the program, what have been some other things that you can think of that have been some that you’ve had some key learnings around that program that you could share?

Matt Linsley 27:32
Yeah, just I think every week he’ll I just learned something different, you know, if it was just different stuff with Facebook, or Instagram or, or even with just a website, you know, everything. Little things add up to big things by the end, you know, so if you if you absorbs a lot of little things, it adds up to one big thing. And that’s what we got out of it, we looked at it and was gone. Yeah, websites a bit tired, oh, well, everything else is just needed that often leads that, you know, website, I think can be good one year, and it can be falling behind the next something that’s a growing thing all the time. And if you don’t spend the time and the effort with it, they can get left behind fairly quickly.

Despina Karatzias 28:22
Very, very true. And you have you’re excellent, you an excellent post a couple of the rewards that come to you when you give something new a try and the learnings and that is a great summary of incremental steps of absorbing information, taking actions, and then all coming together and in reaping the benefits from that.

Matt Linsley 28:50
We do things completely differently out of what we ate four years ago, because we’ve learned so much over the last four years, you know, and probably things that we do now, if I look another four years ahead, we won’t be we’ll be doing everything differently than another four years, you know, so it’s, you know, you have to keep growing and you have to adapt and you know, especially, especially with last year that taught us to adapt and really have a good look at what we do and how we do it and how we can improve.

Despina Karatzias 29:18
Wonderful Well, before we wrap up we’ve had Hannah, she’s come in and said so many creative ways to use video. Just love your willingness to experiment. So do I Hannah. filming and editing video can seem daunting, but once you start having a play it is it’s so much fun. And I can see that in YouTube that you’re you’re you’re really enjoying this. And so you should because there’s nothing better than finding a little hobby within your passion. Passion project with Acacia. Matt, thank you so much for taking the time out. Thank Kaylene I know she’s had to duck out to do what he does both and serve another carrier It looks like a gorgeous day out there. So get out there and enjoy it. Happy Friday. And we’d love to continue to see your journey and see even in the next few months where this video goes, and I’ll look out for that YouTube channel, too. Let’s see. Well, thank you so much to you. I hope everybody’s just as inspired, as I have been watching the journey of the mat and Kayleen over the last little while, and certainly through working with Claire, and what they’ve been able to achieve through video from being a novice and not really looking at 2021 as the year that they’re going to give video ago, but through just having some mental ships and championing and some support there. With a coach, were able to produce their first video, then the second and the third, now doing more of a specific video training around the topic. So I just it’s the stuff that gets me out a bit, that’s for sure. So really appreciate Matt and Kaylene. The website if you want to know more about Acacia, it’s If you’re ever done that way, look them up and go and meet and visit them in person. Now, if you’re watching this and saying I want what Matt and Caitlin are having, we do have a Digital Bizkeeper making this available to many. So we’ve got we’ve opened the doors, and next month on the 20th of April, we are opening this very same program out to any small business around Australia. And you can see here, this is what the program looks like Bizkeeper one oh wait for 101 It’s a live program, we start on the 20th. And you just need to go and visit Tourism And I’ll put the link in the comments there to show you some more information of the beast keep alive. And if you want to know some more information, we’ve also got some information sessions that are coming up as well to a screen device near you. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, and you would like to, to know more about that just you can go on and visit our website at Tourism Tribe and it’s Bizkeeper, 101 live that’s starting on the 20th of April. But until next time, my friends, I thank you for joining us happy Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. And you’ll see us back here Same time, same time, same place with another interesting guest interesting topic and more to learn and share for all of us to keep championing each other through our digital discovery journeys. Thank you guys and thank you as well to everybody there for commenting as well. Thank you Julie and Hannah for joining us to Thanks, guys. Here’s your digital transformation and discovery. Bye for now.


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