Amazon’s Alexa – the all important woman in my life – has just told me via her afternoon update which I increasingly rely on to keep me up to speed – that it is 30 degrees C right now. At the same time I have received a regular email from The Lake District (an excellent service by the way) giving me loads of reasons why I should be hot footing it to Cumbria.
With photographs like that I require little encouragement.
#motorhome #lakedistrict #omgitishot
Thank you to Rodney Lambert (Chairman of the CAMC Events Committee), his army of volunteers, Club staff, Dougal, a Shire horse and numerous other attractions for a fabulous Caravan and Motorhome Club National held this weekend in the grounds of the exquisite Sandringham Estate.
by Tom Leaning of Caravan Times
CaravanTimes recently caught up with Harvey Alexander, Director of Marketing at the Caravan and Motorhome Club, who has just returned from participating in the JustGo motorhome re-location programme with his family.
Mr Alexander also discussed what he attributes the Club’s record year (2016) to, in terms of member retention and acquisition, what he believes clubs and organisations can do to continue this growth and how the Club is attracting younger members.
Here’s the interview transcript below:
“We picked up a motorhome from a company called JustGo, and drove it back through Italy, Switzerland and France, stopping at 4-5 of our sites along the way, and brought it to the UK where it will spend another year touring the UK.”
On how long the holiday took and what the highlights were:
“So, you can take anywhere from up to 14 days. We took 5 days. Some of the highlights were just the driving through Italy and Switzerland, which was inspiring. It wasn’t a chore at all. When you think of driving around the M25 on a bank holiday, it sends a shiver down your spine. But when you’re out there in a motorhome, you’re high up and you’re touring and you’re really stopping wherever you feel you want to. It was just amazing. We stayed at some really stunning sites: one on the edge of Lake Como, where you’re literally by the water, lovely surroundings, there’s mountains in the background, the kids were playing football outside the motorhome, as they do. And then, from there we went on through Switzerland and ended up in the Morvan forest in France – again, one of the most stunning landscapes you’ll see. And we stayed at this tiny little site, with probably 20 or more pitches; just a really lovely setting in the forest, a fishing lake at the bottom of the site. [It just us] the ability to escape the pace of everyday life, to simplify things and get back to nature – it was just incredible, a real treat.
On the JustGo motorhome re-location programme:
“JustGo offer this to anyone who wants to try and drive a motorhome across Europe. They do it every year to bring their new fleet back to the UK, and we did it as a bit of a trial for our members to really see how we can make that the best experience it can be, in terms of getting the right routes for people, and giving them the opportunity to build their memories.”
On what he attributes the CAMC’s record year (2016) to, in terms of member retention and the acquisition of new members:
“It’s really interesting. We’ve seen record amounts of new members joining. Also, we’ve seen 90 per cent of existing members staying with The Club. And I suppose what’s most important to us is the fact that we’ve had a record amount of members touring our sites network across the UK. So I think it really comes down to our members loving what they’re doing, and enjoying it so much that they’re extending their season. Our last quarter of 2016 – October, November, December – was one of our best last quarters ever. So, it’s just incredible. We’ve got 40 per cent of members coming in who own a motorhome now, which is really interesting because they’re changing the dynamic and we’re seeing that motorhomers tour later into the season, which is great. So, we need to make sure that our sites are ready for the caravanners and the motorhomers, trailer-tents, whoever wants to come, but making sure we’re always staying relevant for that touring member.”
On what clubs and organisations can do to make sure these positive results continue:
“Well, I suppose the key thing, in this digital age, is we’ve got to keep inspiring people to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors. It’s about recharging. We attribute quite a lot of the increase down to shorter breaks. We have members who love their summer holidays with the Club or their Easter breaks, but it’s also down to the members who decide on a Friday night who say “d’you know what? Let’s just go away for a few days this weekend. Let’s recharge. Let’s get back to nature, and enjoy ourselves” rather than getting caught in that daily grind. We all feel that it all goes too quick and you’ve never got enough time to do anything, but I find myself if you just put that bit of effort in to just stop, go away – it doesn’t even have to be that far – I live in Rochester and we’ve got some wonderful sites around Kent. I go to Daleacres in Hythe or Bearsted – they’re literally 45 minutes away. But what it means is we can go and we can be in the middle of a lovely countryside park, within for 40 mins to an hour, where we’re just enjoying time as a family.”
On attracting younger members:
“I think that if you go around any of the shows and you look at these caravans and motorhomes, they’re anything but basic. They are homes from home. Some of them offer more luxury than their own homes. And I think that the fact is with all the latest mod-cons where you’ve got the proper heating in there, you’ve got cooking facilities, you’ve got digital [equipment] in there. It just helps people enjoy the great outdoors without feeling compromise. We’ve just come off the back of sponsoring the UK surfing championships down in Cornwall. The age group there is obviously not a typical age group for the Club, but they all love Club sites, they all love being part of the Club because we’ve got 40-odd locations that are near the greatest surfing resorts across the UK. So, I think it’s about being relevant for members and those people thinking of joining and creating that relevancy for them because there has been a stigma attached in the past that [the Club] was just for retired people, but I’m 40+ with a young family, and I guarantee you the best holidays we have are when we get the motorhome out or the caravan and we go down to the coast and we just have a great weekend.”
On falling back in love with the UK:
“We have recognised that people are starting to enjoy the UK more. They’re falling back in love with the UK. And that’s really the spirit of the Club in terms of touring. So, I think it’s important to recognise that, that they’re so much on our doorstep to explore.”
For more information about the JustGo motorhome relocation programme, visit:
The amazing Bailey of Bristol Arctic Adventure involved a key moment when the two caravans and the one motorhome stopped for a memorable photo opportunity at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on their way to Finland.
Equally memorable for Emily, Faye and Anna (l to r) we are in Berlin this weekend but, sadly, Ryanair will not be taking us onwards and upwards to the Arctic…….
The statistics show that registrations of new motorhomes in March 2017 reached 2,877, a 22.3% increase over last year, taking them to their highest ever level for the first quarter at 3,670. March, with its number plate change, is a popular month for consumers to buy, ahead of the spring and summer season.
Source: National Caravan Council NCC
The Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Hawes is within a ten minute walk of the town centre which is a delight and has a wide range of shops and no less than four pubs. I randomly selected The White Hart and only just managed to get back to the motorhome by midnight which I think speaks volumes for the establishment.
The site itself is undergoing a huge upgrade and only half the site is open at the moment but it is easy to see how good it will be on completion. Because it is where it is, the Club is upgrading the site totally in keeping with the beautiful area in which it sits and on completion I can imagine it will be in even greater demand than before.
As my photo shows, I also stopped by the amazing Ribblehead Viaduct. The site wardens gave me the tip that the B6255 Hawes to Ingleton road was a beautiful run and how right they were – simply stunning.
When I was at school we had – of all things – an observatory tacked on to the end of the school buildings kitted out with a big telescope with a mechanical timing mechanism which enabled you to track the moon and stars without losing them because of the earth’s movement while you were sat at the telescope watching things. This instilled in me a love of astronomy and later the NASA space programme.
I was staying with a school friend in Chelsea when Sputnik cut across the night sky – a thrilling but slightly frightening experience because it was Russian – The Cold War was running full tilt then. Years later when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon I was living in Toronto and enjoying at the time a very good party in Mississauga. Everything stopped and we watched in amazement on the TV screens as the events unfolded. Never to be forgotten despite the many subsequent conspiracy theories that actually it all took place on a sound stage in Seattle and there was a really anxious moment when the studio cat nearly strolled into the picture……
So this interest has been with me since early childhood but somehow along the way I had never been to Jodrell Bank which even now is still the third largest radio telescope of it type in the world having slipped from its original premier position. A great day out for me amongst the earnest parents teaching their reluctant children the difference between stars and planets and goodness knows what else; how lovely it was for me just to enjoy it!