I admit to being a bit hesitant about hitting the road again back to France. The paperwork trail all looked a bit daunting and I was anxious not to be abroad and catching Covid. Anyway, it all has suddenly got easier and so last week we took off via EuroTunnel and had a trouble free and delightful brief stay in France – our first for twenty seven months.
We stayed at the CAMC recommended Château du Gandspette in Eperleques just forty five minutes from Calais. It’s a lovely family owned site and has received some serious upgrade attention over the last couple of years. It sports a café open each evening, grass and hard standing pitches and an extremely friendly welcome.
So, with my doubts now set to one side, European travel is now back on the agenda. And as for the paperwork we carefully prepared – no one was the least bit interested in any of it. But our passports received a stamp like in the old days!
This is one of my favourites mainly because of its London location of course. John and Maria Street have worked the site for some time and are intrepid public transport users on their days off.
Here are just some of their invaluable tips:
Maria and I worked on the site last year and we used just about every bus, train and boats going, it really depends on where in London you want it go and what you want to do. If you want the centre of the Thames which is around Waterloo station or London Bridge where the Shard is, you want the bus outside the shell garage which is the No 363 to the Elephant & Castle. You can either walk from here to the Thames or take the Bakerloo line to London Bridge, we often stay on this train to Paddington station and walk to the canal at Little Venice.
Another option is the No 3 bus on the same side as the garage but the next bus stop walking towards Crystal Palace, this bus will either take you to Lambeth Palace depending on the demonstrators or further to Whitehall Horseguards Parade where you can see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and more.
We often use the Uber boats between Westminster and Greenwich with many stops along the way and just using the tap on debit card service likewise with the buses and trains.
Another option is a walk through the park to Crystal Palace station from the site and there are trains for all directions, we often go to Victoria station and then the tube to Kew Gardens (mostly overground) We also take the Highbury & Islington train to Canada Water for tubes to Canary Wharf or the Stratford Centre or stay on the train and visit many other places like to Camden Town. From Camden we often walk the canal to Paddington station, Regents Park and on to Oxford Street.
There are other buses for different directions from the site and I’m sure we can help you, have fun, we do every time we visit.
Sometimes motorhomers find Cornwall a long way away but in an era of staycations it is back to being hugely popular.
Clearly my loyalties lie with the CAMC but even in these early summer days the sheer number of motorhomes is very apparent and and I can foresee “invasion” headlines appearing in local papers. Congratulations to the Tintagel beauty hot spot for accommodating day time and night time motorhome stays.
For my part I will stay on regulated sites and try to be a responsible tourist. Simply because that is easily the nicest way to have a cracking good holiday – which we certainly had this week at the drop dead gorgeous Trewethett Farm.
Our dedicated leased line is supercharging the staycation experience across the UK
For more than a century, the Caravan and Motorhome Club has helped Britons tour far and wide. With more than 200 camp sites directly operated by the Club, and affiliations with over 2,000 more, wherever you want to spend your holiday, the Club has the perfect place for you to stay.
And it works hard to make sure that when its members pitch, they have everything they need. Campsites are located in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. They’re close to a variety of leisure activities and they’re equipped with all utilities. The only thing missing? Reliable wi-fi connectivity, which is essential in today’s always-on digital world.
The rural location of the Club’s sites makes this difficult. And the sites that already offered wi-fi, didn’t live up to members’ expectations. Especially on their larger campsites, where lots of guests might be trying to get online at the same time.
This isn’t just a challenge the Caravan and Motorhome Club face. Poor wi-fi can be a roadblock for every rural business, as building an innovative forward-thinking business requires reliable connectivity.
We’ve seen first hand the business transformation that companies can achieve by embracing technologies like the cloud, VoIP , and artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, according to research carried out by the pollster YouGov, 79%of businesses have already adopted at least one cutting edge technology.
But only with a reliable connection can businesses truly start to see the possibilities that next-generation tech brings. Connectivity unlocks innovation and accelerates digital transformation. It keeps organisations competitive and helps them stay ahead, no matter their size, or sector.
The Club realised that without advanced connectivity, they simply wouldn’t be meeting their members’ needs in a digital age. That’s why they turned to us to superchange the hotspots at more than a hundred of their sites. Digitally transforming their entire organisation and future proofing their services.
Making wi-fi work
Club members’ biggest complaint about the wi-fi was the download speed. Luckily, we had the perfect solution: a BTnet leased line.
With a regular home internet connection, a whole street might share bandwidth. This means that if everyone decides to watch Netflix or play video games at the same time, the connection can overload. But with a leased line, the connection is 100% dedicated to one household. So they always get fast internet, no matter what their neighbours are doing.
We’re installing BTnet on each of the Club’s campsites. As well as not having to share the line with the wider world, it will have enough capacity for 100 caravanners. And with 100Mpbs downloads, they will enjoy exceptional speeds – with ultra-low latency – that never, ever slow down.
“Reliable wi-fi is about bringing the conveniences of home to the holiday park,” explains Harvey Alexander, director of marketing and membership services, Caravan and Motorhome Club. “ Our members can look up information about local attractions. Or stream a movie at the end of the day. And it means they can easily share their holiday snaps on social media with friends and family back at home.”
Unlocking digital transformation
The Caravan and Motorhome Club wants to offer its members much more than reliable wi-fi. They also want to revolutionise the way every campsite works, to make operations more efficient. So they can respond and react to events faster and smarter.
Digital transformation isn’t just about new technology for the sake of new technology. It’s an opportunity to rethink all our business processes. And use these digital tools to better serve our members
At the most basic level, this makes processing digital payments more quickly, minimising the check-in process for guests so they can kick back and relax.
In fact, the hope is that one day soon, Club members won’t even need to visit the campsite reception on arrival. They’ll be able to simply drive up to their pre-booked pitch, pull out their phone and use the on-site wi-fi to check-in and pay. The Club knows that everyone has come to expect this level of convenience in their day-to-day lives. So this transformation is an opportunity to level up and bring those modern conveniences to holidays too – offering much greater flexibility to staff and members.
Looking to the future
Their digital transformation doesn’t stop there. As part of the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s roadmap for success, it’s open to the idea of embracing new technologies that can work over their leased lines.
The Club is exploring whether it wants to use computer vision technology to automatically read number plates. This way simply driving into a Club site could trigger the check-in process, so member’s don’t even need to pick-up their phone when they pitch up. Saving time and resources.
Using IoT, connected sensors could also help monitor each site, from the local weather to the temperature of the swimming pool. This information could help site managers make sure that facilities are running at their best at all times.
Sensors could determine when certain maintenance needs to be carried out, like when the chlorine in the pool needs topping up. This means that maintenance staff can be deployed on-demand, which is much more efficient than relying on an inspection round to discover problems.
AI could even be used to analyse the sensor data and spot patterns that will allow site managers to predict what requires maintenance. This means potential problems can be identified and prevented before they even happen and stop small problems turning into larger ones.
In recent years the Club has expanded its range of pop-up sites that offer temporary camping facilities at stately homes and music festivals.
Advanced connectivity, in the form of Rapid Site, powered by EE’s no.1 5G network, could help transform this experience even further. The fully managed service promises to have new sites up and running with full 5G connectivity in just three working days. With super-fast internet, the Club can enable more efficient site management, saving them time and money, while giving guests the same high-quality experience they’ve come to expect from the Club’s permanent sites.
Organisations and businesses in every industry are now realising the potential of next-generation connectivity and IoT. Because it’s essential for surviving in today’s digital world.
Without a reliable network and advanced 5G connectivity, organisations simply can’t meet customers’ increasing demands. If you want to deliver better customer experiences and keep up with the ever-changing business landscape, digital transformation is essential. It gives your business the confidence to adapt, evolve and thrive – so you’re ready for whatever the future brings.
“We’re excited about what’s now possible with new technology, but we’re equally interested in making digital transformation a core part of our ongoing business,” says Harvey Alexander. “We want to create a culture in our organisation that will always be open to taking advantage of digital innovations to improve our campsites, bookings and overall holiday experience our members and guests expect.”
“Thanks to our partnership with BT, we’re now building strong foundations that will allow our business to grow and evolve in the years to come.”
A passion for camping led one entrepreneurial couple from Leicestershire to invest in a new motorhome for hire business, Hey Campers – after the COVID-pandemic accelerated their modest plans.
Trudi and Adam Lilley have enjoyed outdoor adventuring together for the past 11 years and for five of them, have been motor-homing. After investing in their own home on wheels and choosing to let that out when it wasn’t being used by them, they saw an opportunity to take their stock of one vehicle to six – and are now looking to order more for the booming summer season.
Now, the duo, who have run an accountancy consultancy together for the past seven years, have taken on new premises for Hey Campers, in Coalville. With the aim of opening their depot as a show home when COVID-restrictions ease, it’s currently home to Tillie, Beni, Lexie, Lillie, Minnie and, Tessie – its six motorhomes who, as the names suggest, are already very much part of the family.
Hey Campers co-founder Trudi, said: “There’s so much uncertainty around holidaying and travel restrictions at the moment, but understandably, people are desperate for something to look forward to.
“We’ve already seen booking for half of our summer availability this year and feedback from campsites is that they’ve seen a rise in enquiries too. If holidaymakers can’t go abroad, then the chance to take to the open road and discover something new in the UK is a popular alternative, especially as motorhomes provide self-contained living with onboard bathrooms and kitchens.”
While the doors to the show home remain firmly closed for now, anyone interested in booking can take a virtual tour of their chosen motorhome and is well looked after by Hey Campers’ general manager and concierge, Samantha McCaffrey. Joining Hey Campers in early 2021, Samantha worked at Avis in Leicester before her role was made redundant due to forced closure of the depot because of COVID-19.
With extensive experience in vehicle hire and procedural management, Samantha’s passion for the role and her personal interest in the great outdoors, makes her the ideal fit for the brand. Joining as a marketing intern is also local graphic designer, Molly Jarvis. The Sheffield University student from Market Bosworth is responsible for managing Hey Campers’ social media and design.
Trudi concluded: “With Hey Campers we’ve added lots of personal touches and special extras, to make sure trips in one of our motorhomes, will be truly memorable. These include luxury bed linen, made to order food hampers, 5G enabled WIFI fitted as standard and premium sports and movie channels.
“Our ambition is to also explore ‘money can’t buy’ experience stays and to get the message across to all our customers that with a Hey Campers hire they can have holidays they’ll remember for a lifetime. Just last year, Adam and I were sitting in our motorhome Tillie in Jersey overlooking the beautiful St Ouen’s bay. As I watched the waves crashing over the rocks, Adam made us a Sunday lunch with roast lamb and all the trimmings. We sat down in this perfect location to enjoy our meal and I remember thinking, what more could you want? That’s what I want for all our holidaymakers.”