Camping and Caravanning Club sees no let-up in growth trend
With member recruitment up by a quarter, last year was a record year for the Camping and Caravanning Club, the world's oldest and largest club for all forms of camping. And the Club looks set to sustain its success into 2010, recently announcing a 15% rise in advance bookings compared to this time last year.
We caught up with Matthew Eastlake, the Club's Marketing and Communications Director, for his perspectives on the camping and caravanning trend and his own experience of camping holidays in the great outdoors.
1. The ‘staycation’ has been much debated in the media – would you say it's myth or reality? Was it something that the Club anticipated?
Both the number of new joiners and the number of pitch nights sold have significantly surpassed expectations this year. People have certainly taken their holidays in the UK this year or at the very least taken one of their holidays in the UK.
2. Do you think this trend will continue in coming years?
We see no reason as to why continued growth will not occur. The Club has grown year on year both in terms of new members and pitch nights sold for many years. We don’t know whether the rate of growth will continue and it is quite possible that 2009 could be a significant ‘blip’ in this growth curve.
3. How do campers / caravanners find out about good sites?
There are numerous channels available these days. I suspect that word of mouth is still way out in front. Generally speaking, websites are much the easiest way to search, compare and book these days for our members I believe.
4. What is it that will keep newcomers to camping coming back?
Clearly this will be a reflection of how much they enjoyed their first camping trip. There are many factors involved but certainly the weather will always play a key role.
5. Why caravan/camp in the UK rather than in continental Europe?
This year there has certainly been nervousness about the exchange rate. There have been numerous horror stories of the cost of eating out and general living in near Europe. In fact, countries such as France are certainly no more expensive than the UK even with a strong euro. But nevertheless people have felt that it’s perhaps better to keep all one’s costs in pounds and indeed if camping in the UK, it is easier to get home if anything should change such as weather.
6. What do you predict will be the strongest trend in camping/caravanning in 2010?
I think one trend that we will see increasingly is extended families camping together.
7. How are site owners having to innovate to respond to consumer technology / demands of the modern world and how important is this to campers?
This industry still relies heavily on people turning up at a site, a.k.a. "off roaders", and therefore it is important for site owners to be presented on websites and in directories for site search purposes but it is not critical to have a booking facility as yet. One of the attractions of camping and caravanning is the “go as you please” aspect, in fact the ability to roam freely. Hence turning up at a site "on spec" is all part of the charm.
8. What’s the most bizarre request you’ve heard from a holidaymaker?
Strangely enough campers are very practical people and often quite experienced. I have yet to hear a bizarre request!
9. Where is your favourite campsite and why?
West Runton, Norfolk. I first camped here with my family in 1968 and for some years thereafter. The winding road to the site is magical and I remember playing with other children in the gorse bushes. What fun!
10. What’s your top camping/caravanning tip?
Test your kit in your garden before going camping.