This Iconic Tasmanian Business Uses Qantas Points to Unlock Opportunities

Bridestow Lavender Farm

When Robert Ravens retired from his role as an executive in the chemical industry in 2006, the amateur gardener began looking for a plot of land to tend in his spare time. But then he saw the largest privately owned lavender farm in the world for sale – a 105-hectare estate in northeast Tasmania – and decided to embark on an entirely new career.

Robert Ravens of Bridestowe Lavender Estate

The soft haze that hangs above contoured rows containing 650,000 fragrant purple bushes makes Bridestowe Lavender Estate so picturesque that Ravens describes it as “one giant postcard”. And he hastens to add that he views himself as a custodian rather than owner: “We like to say this place is owned by the public.”

The property is now regarded as an icon of Tasmanian tourism but it wasn’t always that way. “For the first three years it was a negative cash-flow business that we were trying to turn around,” says Ravens, recalling the moment in 2010 when they “ran out of money” and he went to the bank to extend his overdraft. “We got a terrible shock because they wanted to do the opposite, so we had to manage with the resources we had.”

Realising he needed to turn things around quickly, Ravens decided to focus on the tourism side of the business and invested heavily in online marketing to attract more visitors from Australia and beyond.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

And because those tourists increasingly carried camera phones he encouraged them to use the farm as a picturesque backdrop for their social media posts. When the 200 kilometres of lavender rows began blooming, the posts began to multiply rapidly and soon Bridestowe had turned into a genuine social media sensation. 

Ravens says his American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card also helped him get through the business’s darkest hour. “The Card was a lifesaver and it’s become a fundamental resource in our business ever since.”

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Businesses can access a dynamic line of unsecured funding¹ with the Card. This freedom to make transactions as needed with no pre-set spending limit¹ allowed Ravens to invest in the future of the property, bringing high-profile chefs from Hong Kong and Japan to film in the onsite kitchen and build Bridestowe’s brand in those key international markets.

At the same time, he was travelling to North America, Japan, France and England in search of further inspiration, and booking those trips on the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card meant he could take advantage of the complimentary travel insurance² while earning triple Qantas Points³ for every dollar spent on eligible Qantas flights. “Our first aim is to maximise the points that we earn, then we want to use them as efficiently as possible, and travel is one of the great ways we’ve been able to do that.”

Learn More

Maximise your cash flow

The next step was seeing where else it could come in handy. “We set out to optimise Qantas Points earning⁴ and the intention is to pay for everything on the Card where we can. That is our mantra.” 

It’s why Ravens pays for Qantas Health Insurance, equipment for the farm and even produce for the farm kitchen using the Card. He earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 on everyday business purchases⁴ – points he can redeem to travel⁵ around the world for work, purchase office equipment at the Qantas Rewards Store⁶, as well as vouchers for staff incentives and travel.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

As his Qantas Points balance has grown, so has visitation, and Bridestowe has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. And 2022 marks a special milestone because it will be 100 years since the first seedlings were planted in the area – their offspring now filling the vast fields. 

Ravens is celebrating with a special gift for every visitor and is already looking to the next chapter of this iconic business with plans for boutique on-site accommodation. 

“And you can bet we’ll be maximising the purchases on the Card when we’re building that,” he says. “Wherever we can get a commercial benefit, we use our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. It just makes sense for our business.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Unlock the possibilities

Robert Ravens shares his top tips for small businesses.

• The key to… efficiency

“Because we operate a seasonal business, the number of visitors we get varies from 20 to 1,500 a day. That means using quiet times effectively is really important, and in the past year we’ve upgraded the car parks and access roads, as well as redeveloped the kitchen, so we can offer a destination that is at its very best when international tourism returns to previous levels. Major spends like that can mean we’re putting $60,000 on the Card at one time, so the fact we’ve got up to 51 cash flow days to pay for purchases⁷ is really useful because we’re accruing funds during that time.”

• The key to… building your brand

“Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. You’ve got to work very hard at creating brand awareness and if you're not talking about your product, the world won’t automatically come to you.”

• The key to… growing your business

“We’re very strict on cash-flow management, and the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card is fundamental to that. Because there’s no pre-set spending limit¹ we put everything on the Card where possible, which adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It’s a source of funding for the day-to-day operations of the business and having access to that has been really useful in supporting our expansion.”

Learn more

Amex Qantas Business Rewards

• The key to… being adaptable

“This is an incredibly complex business involving agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and distilling so no one works here unless they are multi-skilled. For example, our head of distillation is also head of agriculture and can also serve in the shop when things get busy. Having a group of experienced and multi-skilled employees means we can cope with anything.”

• The key to… maximising your opportunities for growth

“Use every resource that's available to you. This business would not exist in its present form today without the abundant support that's come from government services including Austrade and DFAT. Another key resource has been the Card – it provided a line of unsecured funding¹ when we needed it most and we use the Qantas Points to help fuel our continued growth.”

• The key to… being agile

“We've become regarded as a highly innovative small business because we draw inspiration from influences from around the world. We’re greedy for ideas, and travel gives us the ability to spot new ones very fast. Being able to use Qantas Points earned on the Card to book flights and hotel rooms5 means the business can reduce costs for that travel.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Click here for terms and conditions.

SEE ALSO: How a Young Founder Created a Multi-Million-Dollar Skincare Business

*170,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. 170,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 September 2023 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

You may also like